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FYEN 10101.10 What is Myth? - Byrne

How to Tell What is a Primary Source

Primary Source: An authoritative document relating to a subject, which is used in the preparation of a later work, such as an original record or a contemporary document.  In the humanities, a primary source is the document being analyzed; in the sciences it is a journal article reporting the results of original research.  Primary sources are also called original sources or source material.

Secondary Source: A publication that digests, analyzes, evaluates, and/or interprets the information in primary sources.

Tertiary Source:  A source that compiles, analyzes, and/or digests secondary sources.

More information: Primary vs. Secondary vs. Tertiary

Examples of types of sources.

Published Sources

Many primary sources are published and cataloged just like books.  So just use the library’s catalog or the OhioLINK catalog.  Some ways to help find those are:

  1. Identify key players and search for them as authors. This will find papers, correspondence, memoirs, etc. Remember that government agencies and corporations may also be authors.
  2. Do a keyword search using your topic and the words sources, diaries, letters, or correspondence (e.g. Great Britain and history and sources)