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HHP 210: Intro to Health & Human Performance: Finding Primary and Secondary Sources

Created for students in HHP210, this guide will help students find and evaluate primary and secondary sources

Primary vs. Secondary

What is a Primary Source?

What is a Secondary Source?

Primary sources are materials created at the time of the topic you are researching, or by an eyewitness to the topic.  Primary sources enable the researcher to get as close as possible to what actually happened during a historical event or time period.  They are not a commentary about your topic but are first hand accounts of people who have experienced the topic you are commenting about. 

Primary sources may include:

  • Diaries, letters
  • Interviews, oral histories
  • Audio recordings
  • Photographs and images
  • Newspaper articles
  • Poems, novels, plays, and music
  • Memoirs and autobiographies
  • Speeches
  • Research data and statistics, census records
  • Maps

"Primary sources" can sometimes be confused with "primary research" which refers to studies that do original research and report the data and findings for the first time.

Finding Primary Resources

Recommended Databases for Primary Sources

Using WorldCat to Find Primary Sources

Searching the Library Catalog for Primary Sources

When you're searching the library catalog, combine keywords about your topic (specific people, specific events, or keywords about your topic) with the name of the type of the primary source you're hoping to find (ex. diary, diaries, letters, correspondence, memoir, autobiography, etc.) 

What is a Secondary Source?

What is a Secondary Source?

Secondary sources discuss, interpret, analyze or in some way comment upon primary sources. In these sources, the author has taken information and presented it in a certain way or used it to make an argument. 

Secondary sources can include:

  • Books
  • Articles (scholarly, trade publications, or magazines)
  • Reports
  • Theses or dissertations
  • Documentaries

Finding Secondary Resources

Commonly Used Databases

The databases below are a good place to start your research for Health and Human Performance. Most of the databases have a medical or nursing focus and contain mainly scholarly articles.

News & Magazines

Depending on your assignment requirements, news and magazine sources may be an appropriate type of source. Use the databases below to locate news articles and magazines.

Other Suggestions

Depending on your topic, some nursing or psychology databases may also be helpful