In the humanities and social sciences, primary sources are the direct evidence or first-hand accounts of events without secondary analysis or interpretation. A primary source is a work that was created or written contemporary with the period or subject being studied. Secondary sources analyze or interpret historical events or creative works. A tertiary source presents summaries or condensed versions of materials, usually with references back to the primary and/or secondary sources.
Primary sources include:
Secondary sources are works that interpret the primary data, such as a book about eating disorders, a journal article about the role of tobacco in the colonial economy, or a critical review of a play.
Tertiary sources are works that compile, analyze, and digest secondary sources. General and specialized encyclopedias are familiar examples of tertiary sources.
Once you've located some articles, you will need to begin reviewing the articles in your results list. Most empirical articles contain the information listed below, even though it may be found under different headings. Review each section to see what questions the article attempts to answer. Does the evidence presented support the claims that are made? How do these claims relate to the piece of conventional wisdom you're exploring?
- Abstract --- brief description of the research question, the general methods, and the major findings and implications of the work.
- Introduction ---research question and background information are presented
- Methods (or Materials and Methods) (Experimental Procedures) ---a description of the research methods used
- Results ---data collected are presented in written form and by using tables, graphs, and figures
- Discussion ---researchers interpretation of the data
- Acknowledgements, and Literature Cited (or References) ---works cited by the researcher
Comparison across the disciplines