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Types of Information

Peer Review

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Primary Sources

Historical photo

Hans Weingartz Leonce49

"Primary sources provide first-hand testimony or direct evidence concerning a topic under investigation. They are created by witnesses or recorders who experienced the events or conditions being documented. Often these sources are created at the time when the events or conditions are occurring, but primary sources can also include autobiographies, memoirs, and oral histories recorded later."

 - Yale University, Primary Sources at Yale 2008

Primary sources can include:

  • Newspaper articles
  • Photographs
  • Diary entries
  • Letters
  • Speeches
  • Pamphlets
  • Court files
  • Eye witness accounts

A quick guide to using Primary sources from the DoHistory website.

Secondary Sources

Secondary sources comment on, describe, discuss, analyse, and interpret primary sources of information. For this reason, they are usually created after the event or time period recorded by the primary sources they use. Examples include;

  • textbooks
  • journal articles
  • commentaries
  • biographies
  • literature reviews
  • Indexes


Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Tertiary Sources

Tertiary sources are similar to secondary sources in that they both interpret primary sources of information. Tertiary sources, however, are usually condensed summaries and are useful as general reference material, offering definitions and overviews when you are starting on your research. Examples include;

  • Encyclopaedias
  • Dictionaries
  • Handbooks


Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Know Your Sources

Reserve & eReserve

Materials are placed in Reserve for specific units at the request of academic staff.

There is no print Reserve Collection in Session 2 2020. Print editions of course texts are located in the general collection and available for standard borrowing periods.  Course texts on loan may be recalled using the Item Request process in MultiSearch

eReserve provides electronic copies of unit-related materials such as book chapters, journal articles, unit outlines, lecture notes and past exam papers.

Evaluating Information

The quality of the information you use in your assignment, as well as your understanding and interpretation of this information, is essential to your essay. Take a look at this video by ANU Library to help you:

Using MultiSearch

You can find books and journals, both print and electronic, using MultiSearch, the Library's discovery tool. Use these guides to get the most out of MultiSearch;