Skip to Main Content
The University of Tampa Macdonald-Kelce Library

Introduction to Library Research

Begin here to start your research papers




  • Birth Certificates
  • Court proceedings
  • Diaries
  • Instructional records
  • Interviews
  • Manuscripts
  • Newspaper articles
  • Novels
  • Original scientific research
  • Statistical data (raw data)
  • Speeches


  • Academic journal articles
  • Biographies
  • Editorials
  • Literary criticism
  • Magazine articles
  • Non-fiction books
  • peer-reviewed articles
  • Scholarlty articles
  • Textbooks


  • Abstracts
  • Atlases
  • Bibliographies
  • Dictionaries
  • Encyclopedias
  • Handbooks
  • Indexes
  • Literature reviews
  • Manuals
  • Quotations
  • Thesauri
  • Timelines
  • Yearbooks

Primary, Secondary, & Tertiary Sources

It's valuable to know the distinction between three types of sources: primary, secondary, and tertiary.


Primary sources are original first hand materials which have not been interpreted. These include materials like diaries, court proceedings, institutional records, statistical data (raw data), or speeches. Original scientific research is also a primary source. See the Primary Sources research guide for information on locating primary sources.




Secondary sources are materials that evaluate, interpret, and discuss primary sources. Many scholarly journal articles, histories, and monographs are secondary interpretations of primary source material.




Tertiary sources are materials like encyclopedias (Oxford Reference/Wikipedia), dictionaries, and other reference works. These works compile and summarize primary and secondary sources. Consult these sources during the initial stages, but use primary and secondary sources for your research.

Macdonald-Kelce Library - The University of Tampa - 401 W. Kennedy Blvd. - Tampa, FL 33606 - 813 257-3056 - - Accessibility