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Information Literacy - UMass Lowell

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Information Literacy
Primary Sources vs. Secondary Sources
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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Steps in this tutorial
1) State goals of this tutorial2) Why primary and secondary sources are important3) Primary source and example4) Secondary source and example5)The difference between them in your work6) Citing primary and secondary sources
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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Goal
The goal of this tutorial is to help you understand why primary and secondary sources are important resources in psychology writingYou should know what primary and secondary sources areYou should know when to use one or another, and how to properly cite them
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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Objectives
By the end of this tutorial you should be able toKnow what primary and secondary sources areUnderstand how to use them in your own workBe able to properly cite sources as primary or secondary in yourown work
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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Why are primary and secondary sources important?
Psychology is an empirical scienceIt is based on evidence-scientifically collected data and observationsWhen you write a research proposal or paper, you must support your arguments with references to the empirical literatureLiterature based on data and observations
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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Why are primary and secondary sources important?
Empirical literatureincludesboth primary and secondary sourcesYou are likely to use both in a research paper orproposalYour instructors are likely to use these terms frequentlyIt is important to knowwhat they mean, and how to identify a primary or secondary source
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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What is a Primary Source?
A primary source isa studyactually authored by that person or group of peopleThe data collected in the study, the interpretations and conclusions about that data, all are primary source materialThe authors actually conducted the study themselves, interpreted the data, and produced the report
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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Primary Source-Example
Below is an excerpt from the discussion section of a published empirical study (Sladkova, 2007)People inCopa´nRuinasare aware of the difficult living conditions of undocumented migrants in the US as well as the possibility to make money there to provide for their families and return home in a relatively short period of time. They weigh these and other costs and benefits and their decisions are nested in difficult socio-economic conditions of the community and the country, as well as the global context of mass migration.
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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Primary Source-Example
If you cited this interpretation in a paper, you would be citing a primary source. It could look something like this:Sladkova(2007) in her qualitative study of the issues faced byHonduran immigrants, concluded that both proximal and distal factors, and short and long term agendas influence decisions to migrate.
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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What is a Secondary Source
A secondary source, simply, is a kind of “copy,” but the difference between a primary and secondary source can be confusingSecondary sources can be embedded within primary sources since primary sources cite other literature in introductions and discussionsSecondary sources are very commonly found in review articles and review chapters—primary sources that mostly compile a lot of other studies and summarize and interpret them
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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When is it primary and when is it secondary?
It hard to decide if you are citing a primary or secondary sourceIf you citethe specific finding of another articlecited in a primary source, you are citing a secondary sourceBut, if you cite the primary sourceinterpretationof another article or summary of several articles, you are citing a primary source
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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When is it Primary-Example 1
Suppose in a study (Kunzendorfet al., 2011) you see the following statement:Our rationale for examining the possibility that psychologicalresiliencemightcorrelate negatively with depression, but not with normal sadness,stems fromBonanno’sevidence that resilience prevents depression, by restrictingsad affectto appropriate contexts (Bonanno,Goorin, &Coifman, 2008;Bonanno,Wortman, &Nesse, 2004;Coifman&Bonanno, 2010).
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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When is it Primary-Example 1, Continued
In the previous statement, there are two types of information that might be of interest if you are using this article as a reference in your own workYou might be interested inKunzendorf’sworkYou might be interested inBonnano’swork.
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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When is it Primary-Example 1, Continued
If you were interested inKunzendorf’swork, your own paper might say something like:Researchers (Kunzendorfet al., 2011) have sought to distinguish the relations between resilience and depression and resilience with normal sadness.In this case you are citing a primary source.
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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When it is Secondary-Example 1, continued
If you were interested inBonnano’swork—whichKunzendorfmentioned, your own paper might say something like:Kunzendorfet al., (2011) reviewed work (Bonanno,Goorin, &Coifman, 2008;Bonanno,Wortman, &Nesse, 2004;Coifman&Bonanno, 2010) indicating that resilience functions by limiting sad affect.In this case you are citing a secondary source, and you must cite both the primary and secondary sources.
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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Primary or Secondary?
What if, after readingKunzendorfet al. (2011) you go and readBonnano’swork cited there, and draw your own ideas from it?Then you citeBonnano’sworks as a primary source, because you have read the actual articlesYou are not just using whatKunzendorfet al. said aboutBonnano’swork.
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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Primary or Secondary
What if, after readingKunzendorf’swork, you decide it is not relevant to your studyYou find theBonnannoarticles, read them, and decide they are relevantWhich do you cite?You cite only theBonnanoarticles. They are a primary sourceIt is fine to read an article and then decide it is not relevant to your work, and not cite itYou don’t have to cite every article you read or every article you find other interestingreferences in
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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What about review articles?
Review articles are articles that often group together, summarize and interpret many many other articlesThey are certainly empirical works, and a very useful source of informationIf you are citing information about a specific study, and data from that study,described ina review article then you are using the review article as a secondary sourceIf you are citing how the review article itself interpreted the big picture or reflected on the topic in general, then you are using the review article as a primary source
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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A Silly Example
Here is an example to help you think about primary and secondary sourcesSuppose your friend Z tells you what she did last night. She is a primary source of her own activitiesSuppose another friend Y tells you what your friend Z did last night. Y is a secondary source describing Z’s activities.
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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Summary
In psychology writing you are likelyto use bothprimary and secondary sourcesHow you define the source will influence how you cite it in your own workIf you use information about an article describedinanother article, that is likely to be a secondary source citationIf you read an article and cite the conclusions or data that the authors of that article actually created, then it is likely a primary source citation
Created by Alice Frye, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
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Information Literacy - UMass Lowell