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Primary & Secondary Sources: Secondary Sources

This guide explains the differences between primary and secondary sources, including how to identify them, the different formats, and finding them.


Secondary sources are works that provide information about another work or a past event. They can be overviews, analyses, interpretations, reviews, generalizations, and critical studies.


Biographies Book reviews Textbooks
Film, music, theatre reviews Critical analyses Reference books

Academic journal articles about

history, medicine, literature, etc.

News commentaries Encyclopedia entries

Finding Secondary Sources

Secondary sources often have the name of a primary source in a longer title. They might also have words in the title or description such as "critique", "analysis", "review", "assessment", "encyclopedia", etc.

Secondary resources are significantly easier to find— after all, many famous primary works have numerous secondary works done on them. Go to the Databases page on the library's website, and choose your subject in the box near the top left corner of the page. The dropdown menu has all sorts of subjects listed, and there are several useful databases for each subject.

You can also do a search in the main library database for your primary source (the name of a work of art, a novel title, a famous case study, etc.) and browse secondary sources that name the primary source in the title or description. HINT: A secondary source might have the same title as the primary source, but will have a different author.

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