Primary and secondary information

Primary and secondary information

Primary

Primary information comes straight from the original source, in other words it is made up of original documents and raw data. It can be in any format, including written, visual, electronic or oral. It remains unchanged, for example autobiographies and diaries.

Secondary

Secondary information has been interpreted by somebody other than the originator, for example biographies. In order to present a balanced, objective hypothesis it may sometimes be necessary to use a range of sources.

Sources for law students. The sources used when finding information in law can be different. Please contact your librarian for more information.

Which of these lists (A or B) do you think contains the correctly defined sources?

List A

Primary information:

  • patent
  • photograph
  • artefacts
  • parliamentary debates

Secondary information:

  • editorial
  • literature review
  • textbook
  • biography

OR List B

Primary information:

  • artefacts
  • journal articles
  • law reports
  • literature reviews

Secondary information:

  • statistics
  • photograph
  • biography
  • parliamentary paper

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SMILE by Imperial College, Loughborough University and the University of Worcester, modified by Marion Kelt Glasgow Caledonian University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.