I am trying to figure out if the following article is a primary or secondary source.


I'm leaning towards secondary but here are my cases for both.

Primary: Published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Secondary: It seems to be mostly a summary of other works so it might not be original research. Can anyone confirm this for me? Thank you!

  • This question could be improved by specifying its disciplinary specificity as these terms are highly discipline specific. Jan 27, 2014 at 9:51

2 Answers 2


Primary source material is "direct evidence." This can include published reports of original research, but also journals, diaries, direct interviews, government records, and other types of "produced" work. (It need not be a research or scholarly work to be a direct source; thus the claim that it's primary because it's published in a peer-reviewed journal carries no weight in this argument.)

On the other hand, a secondary source is a source which reports on the work of others, whether it is published or not. Citing a secondary work does not make it a primary work; it's the relationship of the cited work to the original subject that determines if it's primary or secondary.

In this case, a "Perspective" column that summarizes ongoing work in the field is a secondary source, as it is analyzing the original work of others.


In case of review articles, the original sources which were used to create the text are the primary literature. But, if the author draws own conclusions, creates statistics, etc., this would be considered a primary source.

I'm not deep enough in the field to judge that for the article in question.

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