Primary vs. Secondary Research: Difference & Importance

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Types of Supporting Materials for a Speech

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:01 Primary Versus…
  • 0:38 Types Of Resources
  • 1:53 Primary Resources
  • 5:00 Secondary Resources
  • 5:59 Primary or Secondary?
  • 7:21 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Login or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Cathryn Jackson

Cat has taught a variety of subjects, including communications, mathematics, and technology. Cat has a master's degree in education and is currently working on her Ph.D.

Research is a vital part of any good speech. This lesson will help you distinguish between primary and secondary resources when citing your research. At the end, test your knowledge of primary and secondary resources with practice problems.

Primary Versus Secondary Research

Ashley is researching a speech for her biology class. She wants to persuade her class to only purchase wild caught fish rather than purchasing fish that are harvested from aqua farms. Ashley knows some of the pros and cons of fish farming, but she wants to make sure her speech is supported by quality research. She interviews local fishmongers, conducts research on her library database, and passes out a survey to her classmates.

In this lesson, you will learn about the different types of resources and how to distinguish between primary and secondary resources.

Types of Resources

You should be starting out your speech just like Ashley: by gathering information and conducting research. Research is investigating a subject to learn the facts about that subject. You will encounter two types of resources when conducting your research for a topic: primary and secondary resources. A primary resource is a personal account of an event or an experiment that you arrange or documents written by people who were part of the original event. A secondary resource is a resource that is a compilation of primary data or analysis that was presented somewhere else first.

Types of resources:

  • Observation and personal experiences
  • Interviews
  • Surveys
  • Objects
  • Original documents
  • Books
  • Newspapers
  • Periodicals
  • Academic journals
  • Encyclopedias
  • Statistical sources (almanacs or abstracts)
  • Biographies
  • Government publications
  • Internet resources

Ashley has an interview, a survey, and research from her library's database. But which of these are primary resources and which are secondary resources? Let's talk about primary resources first.

Primary Resources

A good way to remember the definition of primary source is to think about the source of the information: is it you or someone else? If you are the primary, or the first, person with this information, then it is likely a primary source.

For example, if you use a personal experience in your speech to clarify or illustrate one of your main points, then this would be an example of a primary resource. Or, let's say you make an observation, such as the sound a tornado makes when it was near, then your observation would be a primary resource because you are the one that experienced the situation.

Let's say you are conducting an interview. The interview transcript would be a primary source because you are the first person that experienced the interview. However, if you were reading about an interview or watching an interview online, then that would be a secondary source because you did not conduct the interview on your own. The interview that Ashley conducted for her speech would be considered a primary resource because she has had a first-hand account of this information. She is the person that conducted the interview; therefore, she is the primary source for this information.

Original documents are also a type of primary source because you are citing the information from the original, or primary, source. Let's say you were doing a speech about the Great Depression and you found a letter that one of your relatives wrote that lived during that time. The letter would be a primary source because it's the original piece of information. However, if you were reading a book about the Great Depression that was written based on a collection of letters from that time period, then the book would be a secondary source because someone else created that book based on the original documents.

An object can also be considered a primary source. Let's say you were to give a demonstration or speech about how to play a guitar. You bring in your Stratocaster guitar and show the audience the different pieces and parts of that guitar. You may have learned this information in the past from someone else, but pointing out the different pieces and parts of this object would be considered original research and would therefore be a primary resource. However, if you were doing research for a speech on ancient Egypt and began describing a piece of pottery or artwork that you read about online, then the online source would be a secondary resource.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create An Account
Support