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Primary and Secondary Sources

This guide explains the difference between primary and secondary sources. Students will learn how to locate primary and secondary sources by viewing the examples, watching the video tutorial, and using the recommended databases.

Examples of Primary and Secondary Sources

Primary and Secondary Sources:

Examples by Subject


Primary Source

Secondary Source

Art A painting    An article about a painting

Frida Khalo's painting Memory, 1937   

Grimbert, Salomon. (1990). Frida Kahlo's Memory: The piercing of the heart by the arrow of divine love. Women's Art Journal, 11 (2), 3-7.


Biology research study

A biology textbook

Piruat, J., and Millan-Ucles, A. (2014). Genetically modeled mice with mutations in mitochondrial metabolic enzymes for the study of cancer. Frontiers of Oncology, 4, 1-9. doi:10339/fonc.2014.0020

Reece, J. (2011). Campbell biology. Boston: Benjamin Cummings.

Research on entrepreneurship education   

A blog post
Volery, T., et al. (2013). The impact of entrepreneurship education on human capital at upper-secondary level. Journal of Small Business Management, 51(3), 429-446. doi:10.1111/jsbm.12020 Stefanova, K. (November 10, 2014). Creative ways to raise money for your startup. [Blog post].
Elementary Education

A quantitative study about school hours

News article about longer school days 

Bellei, C. (2009). Does lengthening the school day increase students' academic achievement? Economics of Education Review, 28, 629-640. Taboado, M. (May 8, 2011). Austin school district implements sweeping changes to boost performance at struggling schools. Austin American Statesman.
English A literary work Critical examination of a literary work
Lee, H. (1960). To kill a mockingbird. Gibbons, L. (2009). To kill a mockingbird in the classroom. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English.
History Letters A biography
Pinckney, E. (1972). The letterbook of Eliza Lucas Pinckney, 1739-1762. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. Williams, F. (1967). Plantation patriot: A biography of Eliza Lucas Pinckney (1st ed.). New York: Harcourt, Brace & World.
Library and Information Science A case study Analysis of the case study
O'Sullivan, M., and Dallas, K. (2010). A collaborative approach to implementing 21st century skills in a high school senior research class. Education Libraries, 33(1), 3-9. E. Gruenbaum. (2012). Common literacy struggles with collge students: Using the reciprocal teaching technique. Journal of College Reading and Learning, Journal of College Reading and Learning, 42 (2), 110-116.
Mathematics A research study A newspaper article
Freeman, B. (2012). Using digital technologies to redress inequities for English language learners in the English speaking mathemaics classroom. Computers & Education, 59(1), 50-62. Zarnow, T. (January 23, 2013). A penguin can teach math. Orange County Register.
Nursing A study about nurses    A Wall Street Journal article about the study
Trinkoff, A. et al. (2011). Nurses' work schedule characteristics, nurse staffing, and patient mortality. Nursing Research, 60, 1-8. Landro, L. (January 3, 2012). When nurses catch compassion fatigue, patients suffer. Wall Street Journal.
Science Education A study about teaching biology A book chapter that discusses the study
Nannie, E., and Plakitisi, K. (2013) Investigating new paths in the teaching of plant processes in elementary schools. World Journal of Education, 3(4), 52-70. doi:10.5430/wje.v3n4p52 Eijk, Michiel. (2013). Reflexivity and diversity in science education research in Europe. In Mansour, N. (Ed.), Science education for diversity. New York: Springer.




Susan Whitmer's picture
Susan Whitmer
TWU Libraries
P.O. Box 425528
Denton, TX 76204