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Fullerton College Library

Research 101: Primary vs. Secondary Sources

Getting Started With Research at Fullerton College Library

Primary vs. Secondary Sources





Secondary Sources




Firsthand accounts of a time period or event, original documents, and creative works.

Works created at the time of an event.


Publications that analyze, interpret, review, or evaluate primary sources.

Works created well after an event.

Art Painting, drawing, or sculpture Article critiquing artwork
Film Movie Movie review
History Diary, letter, speech, interview, photo, or advertisement

History book, biography or historical figure

Literature Novel, short story, or poem Literary criticism
Science or Social Science Original research  Literature review, systemic review, meta-analysis
Theater Performance taping Review of performance
Other Examples

Magazine or newspaper article from a specific time period

Autobiography or memoir

Opinion poll or survey

Encyclopedia, dictionary, or atlas


Interpretation of survey results