Nontraditional Sources: Secondary Sources
Last updated 5/6/2020
Visual: Screen opens to a background image with a person typing on a laptop and a notebook and pencil, along with the Walden University Writing Center logo. The title Walden University Writing Center and tagline “Your writing, grammar, and APA experts” appears on the screen. The screen changes to show the series title “Nontraditional Sources” and the video title “Secondary Sources.”
Audio: Guitar music
Visual: A slide appears that says: “Secondary Sourcse” at the top with the following:
- You read about what Ryan and Zimmerelli (2006) said in the following book:
Hewett, B. L. (2010). The online writing conference: A guide for teachers and tutors. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Audio: Secondary sources refer to situations where you haven’t read a source yourself, but you’ve read about a source in another source. This can be best explained through a sample scenario: Let’s say that you are reading the book The Online Writing Conference by Hewett, and in Hewett you read about what Ryan and Zimmerelli said in their 2006 publication. You haven’t actually read Ryan and Zimmerelli, but you like what Hewett reported that they said, and you want to include it in your own writing.
The first thing to note about this situation is that, as you can probably guess, secondary sources are discouraged in academic writing. This is because in this scenario, you’re trusting that Hewett has accurately reported what Ryan and Zimmerelli said in their source; you haven’t actually read Ryan and Zimmerelli, so you’re taking a chance that you have what you need form what Hewett said about them. Instead, in academic writing, we encourage you to find the original source, in this case Ryan and Zimmerelli, to read what they said for yourself. That way, you can cite them firsthand.
However, there may be cases where you aren’t able to find the original source or you’re on a short deadline. In those cases, we still recommend asking your faculty to see if they think using the secondary source is appropriate. If they do, or if you chose to use a secondary source, then here is how you would cite it.
First, you’ll include the source you read in your reference list, so in this case, that would be Hewett.
Visual: The following citations are added to the slide:
- (Ryan & Zimmerelli, 2006, as cited in Hewett, 2010).
- According to Ryan and Zimmerelli (2006, as cited in Hewett, 2010)…
Audio: Then, for your citations, you’ll list the secondary source, Ryan and Zimmerrelli, the secondary source’s year, 2006, and then the phrasing “as cited in,” and the author and year for the primary source you read, Hewett, 2010. You can do so as either a parenthetical or narrative citation, but in both cases you’ll add “as cited in” and the citation for the source you read.
This is the format you’ll use in those rare cases where you need to cite a secondary source.
Visual: The screen changes to an ending slide a background image with a person typing on a laptop and a notebook and pencil, along with the Walden University Writing Center logo. The email address [email protected] appears on the screen.