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Introduction to Library Research

Primary and Secondary Sources

 What's the difference between a primary and secondary source?

Hacker & Fister (2015) defines them as follows:

Primary source:

An original source, such as a speech, a diary, a novel, a legislative bill, a laboratory study, a field research report, or an eyewitness account. While not necessarily more reliable than a secondary source, a primary source has the advantage of being closely related to the information it conveys and as such is often considered essential for research, particularly in history. In the sciences, reports of new research written by the scientists who conducted it are considered primary sources. (p.272)

Secondary source:

A source that comments on, analyzes, or otherwise relies on primary sources. An article in a newspaper that reports on a scientific discovery or a book that analyzes a writer's work is a secondary source. (p.273)

Hacker, D. & Fister, B. (2018). Research and documentation in the digital age (7th ed.). Boston, MA: Bedford.

In addition to searching library databases for primary sources, the Special and Area Studies Collections includes unique materials and digital collections.

An example of unique primary sources that can be found within the UF Libraries are materials from the project All Black Lives Matter: Documenting Community Response to Racial Injustice. In June 2020 during the Black Lives Matter Protests, University Archives collected posters, flower arrangements and candleholders that were left at the 13th and University Avenue memorial site. Additionally, digital photographs of the memorial site and the 34th Street Wall were added to the collection. The Archive collection is available for viewing, and the digital collections will be uploaded to the UF Digital Collections (UFDC)

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