Information is EVERYWHERE! But what information do you need to compile a good research paper? What kind of information do you need to make informed decisions? Understanding the different types of information sources and their purpose is the first step in this process. This graphic from Portland Community College illustrates the different types of sources and information that we come across in our daily and academic lives:
Primary Sources: defined as something created at the time of the event. Primary sources are usually first-hand accounts of something that has happened. Think about it this way... if someone from the time period could actually lay their hands on it (newspaper, diary, photograph, etc) then it is probably a primary source.
Examples of primary source material:
Secondary Sources: defined as sources that describe, report, analyze, and/or quote from original primary sources. Secondary sources are not created at the time of the event, but rather interpret the event through the use of primary sources.
Examples of secondary source material:
Where it can get weird...
Sometimes secondary sources can be primary sources and this is where you need to think critically.
Need more help? Here is a link to a video by Imagine Easy Solutions that gives an overview of the differences in type and use for each: