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FSEMs: Fall 2022 & Spring 2023

This guide is for students enrolled in Fall 2022 and Spring 2023 First Year Seminar courses.

Primary and Secondary Sources - What's the difference?

Before you can find primary sources, you have to know what they are. This 4 minute video explains the difference.


To recap ... 

  • A primary source proves direct, first-hand evidence of an event, an object, or a person. Primary sources provide facts about an event or time period. 
  • A secondary source is an analysis, evaluation, or interpretation of an event or time period. They interpret or analyze the primary source material.  
  • Here are some examples of primary and secondary sources are:

Primary and Secondary Sources - Examples for History

Primary Secondary
Autobiography, letters, memoir, diary written by an individual A biography about an individual
Transcript of a presidential speech Newspaper commentary about a presidential speech
Text of a court decision Book that analyzes the court decision
A description of a protest march by a participant or someone who witnessed it Journal article that analyzes events that led up to the march and the impact of the event 
An official government record and publication A blog post that gives an analysis or commentary about a government publication

Sources Types (video)

Source types: Learn about Popular, Scholarly, and Trade sources. Univ. of Tennessee Chattanooga.

Popular: Publications intended for a general audience of readers, they are written typically to entertain, inform, or persuade. Popular sources help you answer who, what, when, and where questions and are essential for finding information about current events or issues.

Scholarly: Publications intended for use in support of conducting in-depth research, often containing specialized vocabulary and references to sources. The content has been reviewed by academic peers to ensure the reliability of methods used and the validity of findings.

Trade: Sources intended to share general news, trends, and opinions among practitioners in a certain industry or profession. Although generally written by experts, they are not considered scholarly because they are not peer-reviewed and do not focus on advancing new knowledge discovery or reporting research results. Trade journals, however, are an essential source of information in the field of business.

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