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EH 605: Introduction to Graduate Studies in English: Types of Resources

Sources and Resources

There are many types of sources and resources* one can use for research. What you use will depend on what you need.  

In general, there are three types of sources: primary, secondary, and tertiary.  They can be broken down even more into books, articles, or web pages.  

Your needs will determine the best resources for your assignment.

*  A source is something that provides information
*  A resource is something available to use
   You use a resource to find a source

Types of Resources

Primary sources are original materials on which other research is based.

These can be first-hand accounts or creative works, such as:

  • Poems, novels
  • Diaries
  • Newspaper articles
  • Interviews
  • Speeches
  • Correspondence

Secondary sources describe, evaluate, summarize, analyze, or interpret primary sources.

They forward a novel and/or debatable thesis about a primary text.

Some examples are:

  • Reference books
  • Textbooks
  • Review articles
  • Dissertations or theses
  • Analyses (books or articles)
  • Criticism (books or articles)


Tertiary sources are collections or organizations of primary and secondary sources.

They are factual and repackage or summarize what is already an idea.

They can be:

  • Indexes
  • Almanacs
  • Fact books
  • Bibliographies
  • Directories
  • Manuals
  • Handbooks
  • Abstracts


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