Here are some examples of source types listed by search area:
|Art and Architecture||Painting by artist||Article critiquing the painting||Encyclopedia article on artist|
|Sciences||Einstein's diary||Monograph on Einstein's life||Dictionary on Theory of Relativity|
|Engineering||Patent||NTIS database||Manual on using invention|
|Health/Nursing||Peer reviewed journal article reporting clinical test results of a new drug therapy for Type 2 diabetes.||Article in a news or health magazine/journal that reports on the original article/study results.||General book about the treatment of diabetes.|
|Humanities||Letters by Martin Luther King||Articles about Dr. King's writings from full text database.||Encyclopedia on Civil Rights Movement|
|Notes taken by clinical psychologist||Journal article about the psychological condition||Textbook on clinical psychology|
|Performing Arts||Movie filmed in 1942||Biography of the director||Guide to the movie|
Primary sources allow researchers to get as close as possible to original ideas, events and empirical studies as possible. Such sources may include first hand or contemporary accounts of events, publication of the results of empirical observations or studies, creative works such as a novel or painting, and other items that may form the basis of further research. Primary sources were created in the time period under study.
Note: Context often determines whether a source is primary, secondary or tertiary. Sources that are normally considered to fit into one category may sometimes be used as another. For example, news magazines are normally seen as secondary sources, but a study of how a certain news story was covered by the media would probably consider them as primary sources. Each discipline has its own set of standards for what counts as a primary source; when in doubt, ask your instructor or a librarian.
Secondary sources are the ones that analyze, review or restate information found in primary resources or other secondary resources. Even sources presenting facts or descriptions about events are secondary unless they are based on direct participation or observation. Secondary sources often rely on other secondary sources and methods to reach results. Since primary sources are often direct reporting, secondary sources are the principle sources of analysis about the primary sources. Indeed, secondary sources written by experts may be far more informative and useful to you than a primary source when trying to interpret research data or understanding a complex topic.
*Today most research utilizing peer reviewed/scholarly journals, and popular magazine/newspaper articles is carried out in online databases such as those available to you with your library card number via the Clark State Library and Ohiolink. In most cases the journal still publishes a paper version as well, but the articles that appear in a database such as the Academic Search Complete are considered to be the same as those in the print publication. Some scholarly journals no longer have a print edition at all--a trend that will increase. You should be aware that journal/magazine articles located via a database search are not "Internet resources" in the same way that a web page, wikipedia article, or anything else you find via Google or Bing etc. are and they can be cited even if you are told not to use Internet resources.
Tertiary resources provide overviews of topics by offering a more concise version of information gathered from other (usually secondary) resources. The primary and secondary sources referenced by a tertiary source are not always fully credited. Tertiary resources often provide data in more convenient form and can provide context helpful in interpreting information in primary and secondary sources.
(Modified from UPenn.edu)
A note about process, the word tertiary makes those resources sound less significant, however, tertiary resources can be the right place to begin your research project.