Primary and Secondary Sources in Literature
Your instructor may ask you to use
primary and secondary sources in your literature research assignment.
This video is to help you learn what they are,and how to identify them. First, let’s talk about primary sources.
A primary source is the original work of literature.
When you’re writing a research paper, your primary source is
the work of literature you’re researching. For example, if I am writing a paper
on Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, the novel Jane Eyre itself is a primary source. For literature, primary sources are novels, poetry or plays. This is true whether they are in print or electronic format.
A primary source does not interpret or evaluate another source.
They are the materials on which other research is based.
Jane Eyre is an original creation, and doesn’t interpret other works of literature,
and that’s what makes it a primary source. Now, let’s discuss
secondary sources. A secondary source is written
about a primary source, and it does provide analysis and interpretation.
It is usually a publication — a book or a journal article—
and may cite or quote primary sources. In the example here,
we’re looking at page from a book called “A Day with Charlotte Bronte,”
and you can see that the top half of the page is the author writing about
the novel Jane Eyre, and the bottom half of the page
is a quote from Jane Eyre itself. Secondary sources
usually quote or cite primary sources, and they may be written
during or after the time period of the primary source.
Jane Eyre was published in 1847, and this book is from 1911.
Secondary sources in literature are usually literary criticism,
which focus on analyzing and interpreting
works of literature. So when you’re looking
for literary criticism, where should you look? You can look up books and ebooks of literary criticism in GIL-Find, the library catalog. Using the title of the book
or the author’s name, and the word “criticism”
will help you find secondary sources. If you’re looking for
articles from journals, GALILEO has a group of databases
about literature and literary criticism. You can find them
under the “browse by subject” option below the search box
at the top of the page. And that’s the difference
between primary and secondary sources in literature.
If you’ve got questions about this or other research topics,
you can get in touch with a GPC Librarian through chat, text, email, phone
or at any GPC library. When we’re closed
our Frequently Asked Questions can help you.
All of our contact information is available at this URL.
Thanks for watching this video.