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Jessie Ball duPont Library

Varieties of Research Experience

What Are Primary Sources?

Primary vs. Secondary Sources

What are Secondary Sources?

Secondary sources are sources which examine, critique, and analyze primary resources. Secondary sources are second-hand accounts of what happened in any given event or context. For instance, most textbooks, research monographs (books), peer-reviewed articles, dissertations, theses, and critical essays are secondary sources. 


Article Databases

For a listing of possible journal article resources, see the Electronic Databases by Subject. You can also use the Journal Finder to help you locate the full-text of articles you have identified. Just type in the title of the journal to see where it is available. 

Peer Reviewed Sources

Peer reviewed sources are those that have been vetted by scholars in a given field. For example, before a peer reviewed, or refereed, journal will publish an article, it is first sent to a handful of scholars in that field to conduct a blind review. They will often return the article with suggestions for improvement before recommending that the journal publish the article. This is considerably different than popular magazines and other sources that do not employ such rigorous publishing standards. The result is a higher level of scholarship than might otherwise be published.

Many of our journal databases offer the ability to limit to peer reviewed sources. You may wish to take advantage of this feature to pull out some of the best scholarship that matches your search.

For more information about evaluating sources
 to find out if they are peer-reviewed, please see Is It Peer-Reviewed?which is maintained by Karen Lamson of MCPHS University.