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Exercise Science: Primary, Secondary & Tertiary Resources

A guide to reliable resources on Exercise Science at Transylvania University Library.

Primary, Secondary & Tertiary Resources in Health Sciences

Sources are considered primary, secondary, or tertiary depending on the originality of the information presented and their proximity or how close they are to the source of information. This distinction can differ between subjects and disciplines.

In the sciences, research findings may be communicated informally between researchers through email, presented at conferences (primary source), and then, possibly, published as a journal article or technical report (primary source). Once published, the information may be commented on by other researchers (secondary sources), and/or professionally indexed in a database (secondary sources). Later the information may be summarized into an encyclopedic or reference book format (tertiary sources).

Source

Examples

Review the abstracts for both articles. How are the articles different? What is being reported in each article? Which is scholarly and which might be a better source to cite for your work? Why?

Primary Sources in Health Sciences

Primary Sources

A primary source in science is a document or record that reports on a study, experiment, trial or research project. Primary sources are usually written by the person(s) who did the research, conducted the study, or ran the experiment, and include hypothesis, methodology, and results.

Primary Sources include:

  • Pilot/prospective studies
  • Cohort studies
  • Survey research
  • Case studies
  • Lab notebooks
  • Clinical trials and randomized clinical trials/RCTs
  • Dissertations
    Source

Secondary Sources in Health Sciences

Secondary Sources

Secondary sources list, summarize, compare, and evaluate primary information and studies so as to draw conclusions on or present current state of knowledge in a discipline or subject. Sources may include a bibliography which may direct you back to the primary research reported in the article.

Secondary Sources include:

  • reviews, systematic reviews, meta-analysis
  • newsletters and professional news sources
  • practice guidelines & standards
  • clinical care notes
  • patient education Information
  • government & legal Information
  • monographs
  • entries in nursing or medical encyclopedias
    Source

Tertiary Sources in Health Sciences

Tertiary Sources

Tertiary sources consist of primary and secondary source information which has been collected and distilled. They present summaries of or an introduction to the current state of research on a topic, summarize or condense information from primary and secondary sources, or provide a list of primary and secondary sources. These include:

  • Encyclopedias
  • Almanacs
  • Fact books