Skip to main content

PZ IIS 067 Theory and Practice of Resistance to Monoculture: Primary/Secondary







Original documents created or experienced contemporaneously with the event being researched. They are first-hand observations, contemporary accounts of events, viewpoints of the time. They present original thinking, report a discovery, or share new information.

Works that analyze, assess, or interpret an historical event, era or phenomenon, generally utilizing primary sources to do so. They provide interpretation of information, usually written well after the event. They offer reviews or critiques.



Sources that identify and locate primary and secondary sources. Tertiary sources consist of information which is a distillation and collection of primary and secondary sources. They are reference works, collections or lists of primary and secondary sources, or finding tools for sources.


·         Diaries

·         Journal articles detailing original research in peer-reviewed publications

·         Letters

·         Newspaper articles written at the time

·         Oral and video recordings

·         Original Documents (e.g., birth certificate, trial transcript)

·         Photographs

·         Records of organizations, government agencies (e.g., annual report, treaty, constitution)

·         Speeches

·         Survey Research (e.g., market surveys, public opinion polls)

·         Works of art, architecture, literature, and music

·         Biographical works

·         Books (except fiction and autobiographies)

·         Commentaries, criticisms

·         Histories

·         Journal articles (depending on the discipline can be primary)

·         Literature reviews

·         Magazine and newspaper articles (this distinction varies by discipline)

·         Almanacs

·         Bibliographies*

·         Chronologies

·         Dictionaries and Encyclopedias*

·         Indexes, bibliographies used to locate primary and secondary sources

·         Manuals

·         Textbooks*


* may also be considered secondary in some disciplines

Note: The definition of primary, secondary, and tertiary sources can vary depending on the discipline or context.


Adapted from the University of Maryland libraries:

Primary/Secondary/Tertiary by Discipline






Art and Architecture

Painting by Monet

Article critiquing art piece

ArtStor database

Life Sciences (e.g., Biology, Medicine)

Original research article about salamander behavior written by the scientist(s) who did the research

Review of all articles about salamander behavior.  May look like an article or book chapter.

Dictionary of Biology

Physical Sciences (e.g., Chemistry, Physics)

Original research article about carbon solubility written by the scientist(s) who did the research

Review of all articles about carbon solubility.  May look like an article or book chapter.

Chemistry Textbook

Humanities (e.g., History, Religion)

Letters home from Civil War Soldiers

Web site on a soldier’s life at the front lines during the Civil War

Encyclopedia on the Civil War

Social Sciences (e.g., Psychology, Political Science)

Notes taken by clinical psychologist

Magazine article about the psychological condition

Textbook on clinical psychology

Performing Arts (e.g., Dance, Film)

Movie filmed in 1939

Biography of the main actor

Guide to the movie

Adapted from the University of Maryland libraries: