Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Primary, secondary & tertiary sources (Yale.edu)
Find & Discover: Primary, secondary & tertiary sources (Yale.edu)
Primary (first hand - personal experiences) are original materials - ideas or data - on which other research is based.
Secondary (second hand - did not happen to you) are interpretations and evaluations of primary information sources.
Tertiary (3rd hand) a distillation and collection of primary and secondary information sources.
Primary sources: First hand information
Secondary sources: Second hand information
Tertiary sources: Organize information
Do not rest your conclusions on a faulty foundation.
Ideally, your data comes from multiple labs, replicating the same research hypothesis.
Consider these possible scenarios:
- It is easier to get funding for new research, than to replicate and confirm someone else's research.
- A group of people in the same lab will be more apt to support published research of a co-worker, than look for holes and problems in their methodology.
- The more publications that have been published based on a theory - the harder it is to get alternative theories published.
- People with large reputations are less apt to be questioned, or to tolerate dissent.
Do you think such scenarios might distort or bias what data is collected, how it is collected, how it is reported, and whether it is published?