Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary are three different classifications used to categorize source types. By understanding the difference in types we can understand if the author is providing information first hand (providing a primary source) or if the information is coming after the fact (secondary and tertiary sources). The classifications are dependent on the originality of the material and the proximity of source to the origin.
Primary Sources are defined as first-hand accounts or individual representations and creative works. They are records of events or evidence as they are first described without any interpretation or commentary.
Secondary Sources are analysis or restatement of primary sources. They are looking back at an event, experiment, or time period and attempt to summarize, interpret, reorganize, or provide an added value to a primary source.
*It is important to note that some sources are considered secondary sources in one field while other fields consider them tertiary.*
Tertiary Sources are designed to organize, summarize, and compile other sources into on place. They are usually not credited to a particular author.
*It is important to note that some sources are considered tertiary sources in one field while other fields consider them secondary.*
Primary Law Sources are defined as a statement of the law itself from a government entity, such as a court, legislature, executive agency, President or Governor.
Secondary Law Sources are materials that discuss, explain, interpret, and analyze what the law is or what it should be.
|Primary Sources in Law||Secondary Sources in Law|
|Code of Federal Regulations||Articles about law|
|Contracts, wills, other legal documents||Books about law|
|Court decisions||Law reference books|
|Federal Registrar||Law reviews|
|US Code||Legal news|
|Text of legislative bills|