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Library Skills

This section covers:

  • Different types of information - primary, secondary, tertiary
  • Information sources e.g books, journals etc.
  • How to access them through the Library

Information can come from anywhere, the media, blogs, books, journal articles, personal experience and the web, to name only a few.  The type of information you will need can change depending on the question you are trying to answer.

So before you start your research on a topic, you need to think about what type of resources that you may need and once you decide that, where will you find them?

Types of Information

Information Sources can be broadly divided into: PrimarySecondary and Tertiary

This video outlines the key differences between primary, secondary and tertiary sources in academic research.

                            Primary Information Sources

These are original materials which provide direct or first hand information about an event or where new research or theories are revealed. They have not been interpreted, condensed or evaluated by a second party but provide the material on which further research is based.

Primary information sources can include:

  • Artwork
  • Literary works
  • Court records
  • Speeches
  • Diaries
  • Photographs
  • Conference proceedings

Our Special Collections contain a wealth of primary source material

Secondary Information Sources

These provide an interpretation, analyses or commentary about other sources.  They are good for providing a more digested overview of a topic.

Secondary information sources can include:

  • Books
  • Journal articles that do not include new research
  • Dissertations
  • Commentaries
  • Analytic newspaper articles

Tertiary Information Sources

These provide lists, indexes and collections of primary and secondary source materials.  They are sources that are used to record facts and brief descriptions of key information and can be useful when encountering a topic that is new to you.

Tertiary information sources include:

  • Statistics
  • Dictionaries
  • Encyclopaedias
  • Directories
  • Manuals