What are the primary and secondary sources?

oral, informal, formal, physical or multimedia data useful for the investigation. What are the primary and secondary sources.

What are the primary and secondary sources?
What are the primary and secondary sources?

The primary and secondary sources are those information resources that consist of written, oral, informal, formal, physical or multimedia data useful for the investigation. What are the primary and secondary sources.

Sources of information are classified according to the amount of data that the reader can extract from them.

When the information gathered is new, the sources are said to be primary. When information is filtered, summarized and restructured in a new format, it is considered secondary.

Although sources of information are usually divided into two types, some believe that there is a third group of sources known as "tertiary sources". This group is defined as a digital or physical guide that allows you to access secondary sources.

It is important to note that all human intellectual products consist of primary and secondary sources of information.

Therefore, they should be consulted in order to objectively conduct any research or analysis of a particular phenomenon or situation.

On the other hand, all sources have the same force regardless of the category to which they belong.

This means that the primary source will not necessarily be more important or valid than the secondary, and vice versa.

Primary sources

Primary sources are also called first-hand sources. Are these documentary resources published for the first time, without filtering, summarizing, evaluating or interpreting by any person.

These types of sources come from the creative or investigative activities of people. They can be found in a variety of formats, both print and digital.

In many cases, they stem from a person's reaction or documentary nature. It is for this reason that there is news or interviews in this category.


Magazines are the primary sources that are published periodically. They can come in digital or physical format, as well as discuss different topics in each edition. They provide information about phenomena that are not usually reflected in the book.

One of its most important characteristics as a source of information is its stability over time.

This is due to the fact that magazines will always be responsible for a brief overview of new topics in each of their publications.

Newspaper articles

Newspaper articles are considered primary sources when they talk about news events or what has happened recently.

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These types of articles are similar to journal articles in that they are published continuously to deliver newspaper content.


The dissertation is an essay of academic origin, responsible for exposing a specific topic, taking a position before it.

This is a unique and original production, the purpose of which is to publish a group of relevant conclusions on the subject of research.

It uses the collection of information from numerous sources of information (primary, secondary and tertiary) to write its content.


Other primary sources include monographs, songs, autobiographies, photographs, poems, notes, stories, plays, and letters.

Secondary sources

Secondary sources have the principle of collecting, summarizing and reorganizing the information contained in primary sources. They were created to facilitate the consultation process, speeding up access to more sources in a short time.

In general, they consist of collections of topics or primary links. Like primary sources, its format can be digital or printed.

For this reason, both virtual encyclopedias and physical collections on specific topics, such as a dictionary of medical topics, can be covered by this category.

They are usually used when resources are limited, and several reliable sources should be consulted in a single investigation.

For this reason, they are studied when it is necessary to confirm certain conclusions or to expand the information provided by the primary source. They are important in the planning of research and academic studies.

Here are some additional sources:


A biography can be defined as a written summary of a person's life. This result consists of an analysis that a person makes about available information related to life of a certain nature.


An anthology is a collection of the author's best works. They can be literary or musical.

For this reason, books of stories and poems, or CDs with selected songs are within this source of information.


An encyclopedia can be understood as a reference text or query, within which you can find information on numerous topics.

The universal encyclopedia contains information from various fields of knowledge, and the specialized encyclopedia is responsible for collecting information on a specific topic.


Other secondary sources include specialized dictionaries, literary critics, history textbooks, works of art, library catalogs, and any article that interprets the work of another author.

Tertiary sources

Tertiary sources are collections of links or information related to secondary sources.

They can be physical or virtual and facilitate control and access to all types of information. In other words, it is a library of titles or a reference list of reference works.

The most common examples of higher research sources are library catalogs, reading lists, bibliographies, indexes or people's catalogs.