Primary vs. Secondary Sources

Primary sources reflect the viewpoint of a participant or observer of an event or phenomenon. They are records of events as they are initially described without interpretation or commentary. They can be disorganized and offer an opportunity to draw conclusions independently.

Primary sources can also be sets of data which have been tabulated but not interpreted.

Some examples of primary sources are: diaries; journals; speeches; interviews; letters; memos; manuscripts; memoirs; autobiographies; artifacts; records of organizations; research data; government records; contemporaneous materials; and any medium documenting an event.

Secondary sources provide analysis and interpretation of an historical event or phenomenon. These sources are removed from the original event and often make information more accessible by repackaging it in a more accessible or understandable form. Secondary sources are the subsequent interpretations or studies that are based on primary sources.

Some examples of secondary sources are: dictionaries; encyclopedias; textbooks; reference materials; and any item that interprets or reviews research (a primary) work.

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 David Gardner, was awarded the Distinguished College or University Teacher of Mathematics Award at the 2012 annual meeting of the Mathematical Association of America. “David’s influence on students and other teachers of mathematics has been and continues to be immeasurable,” Carolyn Eoff, chair of mathematics and computer science, said in a nomination letter.

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David Gardnermcs,
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