Secondary Sources

What is a primary source?

A primary source is a first-hand, original work. Examples include novels, poetry, drama, music and art.

What is a secondary source?

Secondary sources interpret primary sources. They may be a critical analysis of a novel, poem or play. Analyzing primary sources helps students develop critical thinking skills by examining meaning, context, bias, purpose, point of view, etc. Secondary sources are used in essays/independent studies to support the thesis statement. Examples include journal articles, biographies or books that use information from many different sources.

Where can I find secondary sources?


Search the Library catalogue for seconday sources about a specific Title, Author (last name, first name), Keyword or Subject.

Other print based secondary sources can be found in collections or series devoted to literary criticism:


Find secondary sources using our virtual collection. Searching these databases provides you with access to books and journals. The results are read in an online format but they should not be confused with an Internet source.

The main literature databases are:

  • Literary Reference Center Plus
  • Literature Criticism Online
  • Literature Resource Center

Other databases to try include:

  • Academic OneFile
  • Biography in Context
  • Gale Virtual Reference Library
  • NoveList

*Note - If you're outside the Library you'll be prompted for a USERNAME and PASSWORD.  Your USERNAME is your Library Card Number and your PASSWORD is your PIN.


How do I cite secondary sources?

These books can help with listing the sources used during your research:

These websites can also help with listing the sources used during your research: