Finding Information

La Trobe University Library La Trobe Library

Finding Information

Achieve@Uni
La Trobe University Library La Trobe Library

Finding Information

Achieve@Uni
La Trobe University Library La Trobe Library

Finding Information

Achieve@Uni

What to look for

You may be asked to find information for your assessments including original documents or interpretations of documents.  To be able to successfully construct and confirm your research and findings, it is important to distinguish between information which is described as primary, secondary or tertiary. 

Primary, secondary and tertiary resources

A primary source is material that was produced at the time of a particular event or period. It is a contemporary account by someone who witnessed first hand or experienced the event in question.

Primary sources can include the following:

  • original Documents (correspondence, diaries, autobiographies, journals, interviews, government documents, oral histories, speeches, manuscripts and other types of unpublished work)
  • creative Works (artwork, audiovisual recordings, photographs, poetry or drama)
  • artefacts (pottery, buildings, furniture etc).

Secondary sources interpret and analyse primary sources. They are created after the event took place and frequently attempt to analyse the primary source material by putting it into historical context. Secondary sources frequently discuss or evaluate a particular event or issue and the work is usually published in books, journal articles or encyclopedias etc.

A tertiary source is a compilation of primary and secondary sources.  Dictionaries and atlases are an example of a tertiary source.

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