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EUREKA!: Mellon College of Science First-Year Experience: Primary and Secondary Resources

The EUREKA! course guide for 2020

Primary and secondary resources

Primary resources contain first-hand information, meaning that you are reading the author’s own account on a specific topic or event that s/he participated in. 



•Original documents (diaries, speeches, manuscripts, letters, interviews, records, and autobiographies etc.)
•Scholarly works such as research articles, clinical reports, case studies, dissertations
•Creative works such as poetry, music, video, photography

Secondary resources

Secondary sources describe, summarize, or discuss information originally presented in another source; meaning the author, in most cases, did not participate in the event.


Textbooks, magazine articles, book reviews, commentaries, encyclopedias, review articles, almanacs

Credibility checklist

How do I determine if a resource is credible?

CREDIBILITY – How do you know the information and the author are authentic and reliable?

• Who is the general/target audience?

• Who is the publisher?

• What are the author’s credentials?

• Is the author/writer an authority/expertise on the subject?

• Is the author/writer’s contact information provided with affiliation?


ACCURACY - How do you know the information is up-to-date, factual, detailed, and comprehensive?

• What is the date of publication or copyright?

• Is the material peer-reviewed?

• Is the purpose of research and conclusion clearly stated?

• What kind of resources are cited, can you find the cited sources easily?

• Is the information relevant to your research needs?


RELEVANCE – How do you know the information is fair, objective, and consistent?

• Is the purpose, intent of research and conclusion clearly stated?

• Is the information provided balanced and the arguments supported by the facts?


SUPPORT – How reliable, accurate, reasonable and well-supported are the sources for your resource?

• How many sources support the resource? Can you find them easily?

• Pick one source and evaluate it with the CARS list. How credible, accurate, reasonable, and well-supported does it seem?