In many disciplines you need to locate primary sources for your research.  The following definitions will help you understand what primary sources are.

What are primary sources?

Primary sources allow researchers to get as close as possible to what actually happened because they are first-hand observations of a time, person, or event.  They include documents, images, or artifacts that contain original and non-analyzed information from the time period being researched.  They may be found in their original format or may have been reproduced at a later date.  Primary sources are the raw materials that help form the basis for critical analysis of a topic.

What are secondary sources?
Secondary sources are written after the time the event occurred.  They analyze, examine or interpret the topic under investigation.  They often use primary sources to support their arguments.

What are tertiary sources (reference sources)?

Tertiary sources help you find primary and secondary sources.  Guides, handbooks, bibliographies, indexes, encyclopedias, etc. include citations to primary and secondary sources.  They also help identify names, dates, geographic places, events, etc. that are relevant to your topic that you can use for your searches. 

previous   |  next

Last modified: 8/22/2012 11:50 AM by M. Potter

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012
UCR Career Opportunities
Library Job Opportunities

UCR Library Information

Directions / Mailing Addresses
Tomás Rivera Library: (951) 827-3220
Orbach Science Library: (951) 827-3701
Music Library: (951) 827- 3137
Multimedia Library: (951) 827-5606

Related Links


UCR Libraries Facebook UCR Libraries Twitter UCR Libraries YouTube UCR Libraries News UCR Libraries Mobile Website