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The State University of New York at FredoniaReed Library

Research Guide Proposed Layout: Primary and Secondary Sources

Primary Sources

Primary sources are information or literature about original research. These materials are provided or written by the original researchers or scientists who conducted the experiment.  

Examples of Primary Sources include: 

  • Conference Papers
  • Correspondence
  • Dissertations
  • Diaries
  • Interviews
  • Lab Notebooks
  • Notes
  • Patents
  • Proceedings
  • Studies or Surveys
  • Technical Reports
  • Theses

Secondary Sources

Secondary sources analyze, evaluate, interpret and summarize information from primary resources. Typically the purpose of a secondary source is to give an overview of a topic.  

Examples of Secondary Sources include: 

  • Criticism and Interpretation
  • Dictionaries
  • Directories
  • Encyclopedias
  • Government Policy
  • Guide to Literature
  • Handbooks
  • Law and Legislation
  • Monographs
  • Moral and Ethical Aspects
  • Political Aspects
  • Public Opinion
  • Reviews
  • Social Policy
  • Tables

Click image to enlarge

  • Primary Sources
    • Research & Development: A researcher makes a discovery, develops a product or a new methodology, etc. Notes are taken in a lab notebook
    • Conference Proceedings and Research Reports: The researcher presents findings at a conference or writes a research report
    • Journal Article (Original Research): The researcher submits an article for review and the article is published in a peer-reviewed journal
  • Secondary Sources
    • Journal Article (Article Review): Journal articles become secondary resources when they are reviewed, and appear in a review article
    • Books/Textbooks: The findings of the article are later summarized and published in books

Accessibility Statement

Reed Library is dedicated to making information accessible for everyone. If you notice an accessibility issue within this guide, please contact Katelynn Telford at

Daniel A. Reed LibraryThe State University of New York at Fredonia • 280 Central Ave., Fredonia, NY 14063 • 716-673-3184 • Fax: 716-673-3185 •