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Primary and Secondary Sources

This guide will explain what primary and secondary sources are and how to find them.


Example for Art:

Primary Source: A Painting

Vincent van Gogh’s painting Bedroom at Arles

Secondary Source: Article about a Painting

Heelan, Patrick A. “Toward a New Analysis of the Pictorial Space of Vincent Van Gogh.” The Art Bulletin 54, no. 4 (1972): 478-492.


Example for English:

Primary Source: A literary work.

Twilight, by Stephanie Meyers

Secondary Source: Scholarly literary criticism of the Twilight novels, focusing on the romantic relationship between Bella Swan and Edward Cullen. 

Taylor, Anthea. ""The Urge Towards Love is an Urge Towards (un)Death": Romance, Masochistic Desire and Postfeminism in the Twilight Novels." International Journal of Cultural Studies 15, no. 1 (2012): 31-46. 


Example for Music: 

Primary Source: Scholarly research linking certain types of music to juvenile delinquency.

Ter Bogt, T. F. (2013). “Early adolescent music preferences and minor delinquency.” Pediatrics. (Pre-press, available online.) doi: 10.1542/peds.2012-0708

Secondary Source: Blog post about a study linking heavy metal music and juvenile delinquency.

New study insists listening to metal & hip-hop encourages teenage delinquency (2013, January 23). Retrieved January 27, 2013, from


Example for Theater: 

Primary Source: A research study describing a study that looked at drama education and children’s conflict resolution skills.

Catterall, James S. “Enhancing peer conflict resolution skills through drama: an experimental study.” Research in Drama Education 12, no. 2 (2007): 163-178.

Secondary Source: A list of the benefits of drama education.

"Benefits of Theatre Ed". American Alliance for Theatre & Education.