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types of information

Primary (Think of this as Firsthand)
Primary information is comprised of original materials that were created first hand. This type of information is from the time period involved and has not been filtered through interpretation.  Examples are:
  • Diaries
  • Interviews (legal proceedings, personal, telephone, email)
  • Letters
  • Original Documents (i.e. birth certificate or a trial transcript)
  • Patents
  • Photographs
  • Proceedings of Meetings, Conferences and Symposia.
  • Survey Research (such as market surveys and public opinion polls)
  • Works of Literature
Secondary (Think of this as Second Hand)
Secondary information is made up of accounts written after the fact with the benefit of hindsight. It is comprised of interpretations and evaluations of primary information. Secondary information is not evidence, but rather commentary on and discussion of evidence.  Examples are:
  • Biographies
  • Books
  • Commentaries
  • Dissertations
  • Indexes, Abstracts, Bibliographies (used to locate primary & secondary sources)
  • Journal Articles
Tertiary (Think of this as Third Hand)
Tertiary information is a distillation and collection of primary and secondary information. Examples are:
  • Almanacs
  • Encyclopedias
  • Fact books

Various types of information

The UL provides access to a wide range of information sources including books, magazines, journal articles and financial data. This information is available from various sources. For example: catalogues, databases, academic search engines and the internet. Read the overview of the types of information below:
Types of information
Useful for...
Books /reports
Obtaining a general overview of a subject area
Tip 1: Use the bibliography in the book. Which sources did the author use to write the book?
Tip 2: Find the list of contents of the book on Google Books to get an impression of the contents of the book. And to help you decide whether to borrow the book or not.
- Catalogue
- PiCarta
Dissertations and theses
Establishing whether research has been conducted into a certain topic.
Tip: Find out what sources the researcher used.
- Catalogue
- RePub
Keeping up to date with the developments in a certain discipline.
Tip: Find out who the leading researchers are in a particular field.
- E-journals
- Catalogue
Journal articles
Looking for specific information about a particular topic. Journal articles are often very focused and aimed at publishing research results.
- Databases
- sEURch
Financial data
Creating data sets (collecting data) to support the conclusions of your research.
- Databases
- via EDSC
Creating data sets (collecting data) to support the conclusions of your research.
- Databases
- via EDSC
Offering support when solving legal cases.
- Databases
Case law
Judgments provide an insight into how rules and regulations are applied in practice.
- Databases

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