What is a secondary source?
Secondary sources address or analyze events, people, works, or topics after the fact, unlike primary sources which provide firsthand accounts. To learn more about primary sources, see our Primary Sources page.
Examples of secondary sources include:
- Newspaper articles
- Journal and magazine articles
Why use secondary sources?
Secondary sources allow you to broaden your research by providing background information, analyses, and unique perspectives one or more steps removed from an original event or work.
How can I tell if something is a secondary source?
The following questions can help you determine if you have a secondary source:
- Author: What is the author’s relationship to the material or event described? Does his or her knowledge stem from personal experience or not?
- Purpose: What is the purpose of the content? Is the author interpreting previous events?
- Publication Date: Is the date of the publication further away from the event described?
Where can I find secondary sources?
Find books, magazines, journals, and more in the Library Catalog. Use “Format” in the “Advanced Search” interface to customize your search results.
Online Reference Collection (Encyclopedias)
We recommend the following as starting points for finding encyclopedia entries on a variety of topics:
The Undergraduate Library’s Find Articles Guide provides recommended databases for finding magazine, journal, and newspaper articles in a variety of disciplines. We recommend Academic Search Ultimate as a starting point for finding articles on a variety of topics.