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Research Process: Primary and Secondary Resources

an introduction to the research process at a very basic level

Primary Sources

Primary resource contains first-hand information, meaning that you are accessing the author’s own account on a specific topic.

Primary sources such as research articles often do not explain terminology and theoretical principles in detail. Thus, readers of primary scholarly research should have introductory knowledge of the subject area.

Examples of a primary source are:

  • Original documents such as diaries, speeches, manuscripts, letters, interviews, records, autobiographies.
  • Empirical scholarly works such as dissertations, research articles, clinical reports, case studies.
  • Creative works such as poetry, music, video, photography

How to locate primary research in USEK Library:

  1. Go to USEK library page and begin your search using one search tool or select a subject-specific database from the Electronic Resources list.
  2. Once you have a set of results, look for articles where the author has conducted original research. Note that a primary research article includes methodology, literature review, population, measurement, findings and usually future research directions.

Secondary Sources

Secondary source discusses data originally presented in another source. This type of sources is written for a broad audience and include definitions of specific terms, history relating to the topic, principles etc.

Use secondary sources to obtain an overview of a topic.

Examples of a secondary source are:

  • Publications such as textbooks, encyclopedias, almanacs, magazine articles, book reviews, commentaries.

Locate secondary resources within USEK databases such as:

  • Annual Reviews (scholarly article reviews)
  • Credo Reference (encyclopedias, dictionaries, handbooks & more)