|Primary Source||Secondary Source|
|Definitions||Original materials or original research that has not been filtered through interpretation or evaluation by a second party.||Sources that contain commentary on or a discussion about a primary source.|
|Timing of Publication Cycle||Primary sources tend to come first in the publication cycle.||Secondary sources tend to come second in the publication cycle.|
|Formats - depends on the kind of analysis being conducted.||Conference papers, dissertations, interviews, lab notebooks, patents, a study reported in a journal article, a survey reported in a journal article, and technical reports.||Review articles, magazine articles, and books.|
Example: Scientists studying Genetically Modified Foods.
|Article in a scholarly journal reporting research and methodology.||Articles analyzing and commenting on the results of original research; books and websites doing the same.|
Identifying Original Research
Some databases, such as ScienceDirect, will indicate the article is original research:
Original research articles often have very identifiable components. These will include some or all of the following components:
Review articles are often as lengthy or even longer than original research articles. What the authors of review articles are doing is analyzing and evaluating current research and investigations related to a specific topic, field, or problem. They are not primary sources since they review previously published material. They can be of great value for identifying potentially good primary sources, but they aren't primary themselves.
The Difference Between Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary Sources
Sources are considered primary, secondary, or tertiary depending on the originality of the information presented and their proximity or how close they are to the source of information. This distinction can differ between subjects and disciplines. In the sciences, research findings may be communicated informally between researchers through email, presented at conferences (primary source), and then, possibly, published as a journal article or technical report (primary source). Once published, the information may be commented on by other researchers (secondary sources), and/or professionally indexed in a database (secondary sources). Later the information may be summarized into an encyclopedic or reference book format (tertiary sources).
Primary sources are original materials/information on which other research is based. It includes journal articles of original research, conference papers, dissertations, technical reports, and patents. Primary sources are also sets of data, such as health statistics, which have been tabulated, but not interpreted.
Secondary sources analyses, evaluates, interprets, re-packages, summarizes or reorganizes information reported by researchers in the primary literature. These include:
Tertiary sources consist of primary and secondary source information which has been collected and distilled. They present summaries of or an introduction to the current state of research on a topic, summarize or condense information from primary and secondary sources, or provide a list of primary and secondary sources of more extensive information. Examples are:
Information provided by: https://hsl.lib.umn.edu/biomed/help/primary-secondary-and-tertiary-sources-health-sciences
Information provided by: https://www.nacc.edu/Content/Uploads/nacc.edu/files/Library/PeerReviewed.pdf