Difference Between Primary and Secondary Sources

There used to be a time when academic information used to be very limited and people had limited access to it, but with the technological advancements happening every year and the increasing number of research scholars, this information has converted into a giant cloud of data.

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Generally, this data is classified into two categories, namely- Primary Sources and Secondary Sources. 

When a person intends to gather such information related to him in any manner, he must understand the difference that lies between these two types of data or information.

Primary Sources vs Secondary Sources 

The difference between Primary Sources and Secondary Sources is that the former happens to be any data or source of information that was either created at the time of the particular event or was made in the same manner after some time. While on the contrary, the latter denotes those sources of information that happens to be the evaluation or criticism, or analysis of the original sources. Other differences between these sources lie in the intention of creating them and the purpose they serve. 

Primary Sources vs Secondary Sources 1

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Primary Sources, in simple words, can be explained as those means which provide first-hand information about a particular event or thing or system. These are considered very crucial and significant in terms of authenticity when it comes to academic research.

Some examples can be the books written, reports prepared, or researches conducted with respect to an event of history with the intention of recording them in their true nature. 

On the other hand, Secondary Sources are those sources that give an opinion about any research or event. These sources are the analysis of many thinkers with respect to a particular thing and provide an idea as to the mindset with which any primary source was created.

Secondary sources are more of a medium used to seek evaluation of certain primary sources. 

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonPrimary Sources Secondary Sources 
Meaning  Those means provide first-hand information about a particular event or thing, or system. Those sources give an opinion about any research or event. These sources are the analysis of many thinkers with respect to a particular thing. 
Based upon  These sources happen to be based upon the details of an event or occurrence.  These sources happen to be based upon the criticism, evaluation, or analysis of a particular event or occurrence. 
Created by These sources are created by those individuals who experienced the event for themselves. These sources are created by those individuals who have analyzed the primary sources of an event. 
Purpose  The purpose of these sources is to document first-hand information regarding a particular concern. The purpose of these sources happens to be the analysis or simplification of already existing sources. 
Includes  It includes the recording of pieces of evidence, occurrences, and information. It includes classification, categorization, and evaluation of primary sources. 
Depends upon It depends upon the original information. It depends upon the primary sources. 

What are Primary Sources? 

Primary sources, as the name implies, refer to a specific piece of information in any form that was developed by a person who had firsthand experience with it. For example, historical monuments and other structures on which people have written history.

These are referred to as primary sources since they are the most credible and firsthand information sources. 

These provide firsthand knowledge of a certain event, thing, or system. These sources are based on the details of an event or occurrence and are created by persons who witnessed the event firsthand.

The goal of these sources is to record firsthand information about a specific situation. 

It includes a recording of evidence, occurrences, and information. It depends upon the original information.

One example of these sources is- the historical books written by historical writers in which they record the system of governance of that time. 

primary sources

What are Secondary Sources? 

Secondary sources, as the name implies, analyze initial sources on any topic. They express their viewpoint on any study or event.

These sources are based on the critique, appraisal, or analysis of a certain event or occurrence, and they are based on the analysis of numerous minds with respect to a specific subject. 

These sources are developed by persons like research academics and others who have analyzed the primary sources of an event. The examination or simplification of existing information is the objective of these sources.

Primary sources are classified, categorized, and evaluated. 

These can better be explained by way of one example- many scholars have criticized and analyzed historical books. These scholars classify them and simplify them in many chapters, and present data to make it easy for people to interpret the original sources.

These can be in the form of peer-reviewed journals, magazines, etc.  

secondary sources

Main Differences Between Primary and Secondary Sources 

  1. Primary sources are the means which provide first-hand information about a particular event or thing, or system. While on the other hand, Secondary sources give an opinion about any research or event.  
  2. These sources happen to be based upon the details of an event or occurrence. But on the contrary, Secondary sources happen to be based upon the criticism, evaluation or analysis 
  3. Primary sources are created by those individuals who experienced the event for themselves. While Secondary sources are created by the people who analyze the primary sources. 
  4. The purpose of Primary sources is to document first-hand information regarding a particular concern. While secondary sources happen to be the analysis or simplification of already existing sources. 
  5. Primary sources include recording of pieces of evidence, occurrences and information. Secondary sources include classification, categorization and evaluation of primary sources. 
Difference Between Primary and Secondary Sources
References
  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0099133306000528
  2. https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acs.est.7b01169
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