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Primary vs Secondary Sources






  • Original documents
  • Creative works
  • Relics or artifacts
  • ...or any other source that was written or created at the time of study.
  • Textbooks
  • Monographs
  • Magazine & journal articles
  • criticism
  • commentaries
  • encyclopedias
  • ...or any other source that analyzes and/or interprets a primary source document.




  • Diary of Anne Frank - Experiences of a Jewish family during WWII 
  • The Constitution of Canada - Canadian History 
  • A journal article reporting NEW research or findings 
  • Weavings and pottery - Native American history 
  • Plato's Republic - Women in Ancient Greece  
  • A journal/magazine article which interprets or reviews previous findings 
  • A history textbook 
  • A book about the effects of WWI 

Information on this page is based on information on Princeton University's website, located at:

Scholarly vs Popular Articles


Scholarly Journals, Academic Journals, Peer-Reviewed

Use the following criteria to determine whether an article is scholarly.


Newspapers, Magazines, Trade Magazines

Use the following criteria to determine whether an article is popular.

Scholars, researchers, professors, students.
General readers.
AUTHOR Professionals, experts in the field. Credentials are listed in the article. Varies, but typically journalists, staff writers, 'guest' experts. May not be signed.
CONTENT Original research Non-technical, entertainment, news. May report on original research (such as breaking medical research)
LENGTH Usually lengthy, often over 10 pages long. Usually short, 1-5 pages.
CITATIONS Many detailed citations. No, incomplete, or very few citations.
REFEREED Articles go through a peer-review process where they are critiqued by other experts in the field before they are published. No


The ability to critically evaluate information is an important component of research and information gathering. This video discusses using the CRAAP Test to evaluate the quality of information and sources.