Answered By: Liz Svoboda
Last Updated: Oct 26, 2023     Views: 63

Secondary sources offer an analysis or a restatement of an event or discovery described in primary sources. They interpret, explain, critique, or otherwise analyze primary sources. Some secondary sources are used to persuade the reader and may be considered less objective.  

Examples of secondary sources include:

  • criticism of a work of art, music, or fiction
  • publications that discuss or analyze a topic
  • articles and editorials that interpret or review research works or other primary sources*
  • some nonfiction books written for general public for entertainment purposes rather than scholarship
  • some textbooks

*Many academic articles include short literature reviews to establish a starting place or a jumping off point for their own, original research; these are still considered primary sources. However, articles that only review previously published articles and contain no new research are secondary sources; these articles are called systematic literature reviews and can be good sources of information about the state of research on a certain topic.

For more on the difference between primary, secondary, and tertiary sources, see our guide to Identifying Information Sources.

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