Secondary sources refer to research sources like books and journal articles. They represent scholarship that has been gathered by a researcher, synthesized, then presented to the academic community. Scholars preparing books and journal articles often use primary source materials in their research. These are the “raw” materials of history—letters, diaries, blogs, photographs, personal and business or organizational records, etc. They are created very close to the time of an event and are a contemporaneous record of the event (example: newspaper articles; contemporary popular weekly magazines and journals/trade magazines; films; professional, government, organization, and hobbyist websites and blogs and other social media; photographs; letters and diaries). Secondary sources are created from both primary and secondary sources; they have been interpreted by scholars who were not present at an event. Most of the secondary sources you will use include books, journal articles, encyclopedias, etc.
For this research, you may be using all of these, depending on your topic. Academic journals will come from a wide range of subjects, based on your topic. Articles are written by scholars or professionals working in a field (example: immigration policy, climate change, diplomatic relations); ideally they should be peer-reviewed and can be found in the library databases and by searching WorldCat. Trade journals are those centered around an industry, government, not-for-profits, etc. and are created for professionals, but are not scholarly. Popular magazines are created for the general public and often cover news that happened within the past week or month. The library’s journal database includes many trade journals; Time and Life (popular) have separate databases. The less academic the publication, the faster it publishes, so popular magazines, especially those published weekly or monthly, can become primary sources. Some trade journals can also be primary sources if they publish close to an event; the reporting can be a bit more scholarly but is aimed at a specific industry/government/not-for-profit, etc. sector. Academic journals have a very long lag between an event and publication due to the time it takes to research, review, and publish, so these will be secondary sources.
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