Identify primary and secondary sources

Video link: Identifying Primary and Secondary Sources

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Visual: Presentation Title
Narration: Most of the items in the Walden Library can be categorized as either primary or secondary

Visual: Primary Sources
Narration: The most common type of resource you will need to find in the Walden Library is the primary
research article. A primary research article is one where the author or authors of the article are also the
people who conducted the study you are now reading about. The article describes the study, and
typically includes specific sections for the literature review, methodology, results, discussion, and

Visual: Abstract of a primary research article
Narration: Most of the time you can identify a primary article by looking at the abstract. The abstract of
a primary article will describe the research study that was done, or it will indicate that the author is
relating his own experiences or ideas. If you can’t tell what an article is by looking at the abstract, you
may need to look at the full article.

Visual: Literature Review section of an article
Narration: Even though the sections included in a research article are the same, you may see different
section headings. This is especially true of the literature review portion, which may be called
background, introduction, or have no heading at all. The initial review of the literature is actually
secondary, but it is included in primary articles because it creates the context for the research study.

Visual: Methodology section of an article
Narration: The methodology section will describe the study design and participants.

Visual: Results section of an article
Narration: The results contain the data obtained through the study, while the discussion analyzes and
puts the data in context.

Visual: Conclusion section of an article
Narration: The conclusion provides a final analysis and may explore other avenues for future research.

Visual: Secondary Sources
Narration: In a secondary source the authors describe or analyze someone else’s ideas or research. This
can take the form of either a book or an article. If a peer-reviewed article is a secondary source, you’ll
typically see the word “review” somewhere in the article title or abstract.

Visual: Secondary article abstract
Narration: The abstract of a Secondary article will describe the ideas of others, or indicate in some way
that it’s surveying current events or literature.

Visual: Headings in a literature review article
Narration: The article itself will generally be organized by themes, as this literature review article is.
Review articles and other secondary sources can help scholars build an understanding of a topic quickly.
Secondary articles may also discuss practical applications of research findings.

Visual: Presentation Title
Narration: Both primary and secondary sources are important in scholarly research. Being able to
identify them is a central skill for researchers in any field.


Created July 2013 by Walden University Library