Answered By: Research support team
Last Updated: Oct 23, 2017     Views: 20

Secondary sources build upon primary resources by analyzing, interpreting, synthesizing or discussing them.  

Examples would be:

  • books
  • journal articles (that do not provide original research)

A good way to determine whether or not a source you are evaluating is primary or secondary in nature is to ask yourself:

"Is this 'first-hand' information or 'second-hand' information?"

If you said 'first-hand' then it is likely a primary source.  If you said 'second-hand', then it's likely a secondary source. 

However, there is not always such a clear delineation.  A secondary source may also be a primary source, depending on the context its used in.

Some examples:

Primary Source Secondary Source
Newspaper Interview of Gilles Duceppe Newpaper article written post-interview, evaluating Duceppe's comments
Census data collected by Statistics Canada An article using Census data to discuss population trends
Diaries or letters from soldiers during World War II A book about the effects of World War II on soldiers