|WikiProject History||(Rated B-class, Mid-importance)|
|WikiProject Libraries||(Rated B-class, Low-importance)|
- 1 Untitled
- 2 Contemporaries are bad sources
- 3 Why I re-wrote
- 4 New comment by Birger Hjørland
- 5 Another rewrite
- 6 Authority and reliability in sources
- 7 Many disciplines other than history make the distinction between P and S sources. Why are historians grabbing all the gusto?
- 8 Current (8th Nov '07) definition of secondary and primary
- 9 Verifiability challenge
- 10 Looking for consensus
- 11 == Looking for answers ==
- 12 Huh?
- 13 Family history -- moved from article
- 14 Dictionaries
- 15 Is a bare conjecture a source?
- 16 RfC: Dubious statement in section In science and medicine
- 17 Diagram
- 18 A survey of previous work .. is secondary source information
Thank you for this article. :) I think a lot of us may have been in denial. Hephaestos
Contemporaries are bad sources
This and primary source are good articles, and nice to have. However I quibble with contemporaries being considered good sources. I'm a contemporary of the Second & Third Gulf wars, however most of my 'information' comes from major news sources, and propoganda outlets (US military/administration, Arab news, Iraqi claims), so while I'm a contemporary, I'm really no better than someone else writing about it from their college textbook a 100 years from now. And even though I know some vets, and I talk to them, and I write about what they tell me, doesn't that still make it second-hand? ~ender 2003-04-13 02:47 MST
Contemporary is a fidgety word. Times are not the same everywhere. Someone in 14th century France wouldn't be a contemporary of the birth of the Renaissance, but the same person in 14th century Italy would be. To more extreme, almost no American of the time can be said to be contemporary to the October Revolution.
Contemporary means existing in the same times. The times are the events. You can't be contemporary without being with the times. You can't have been a contemporary unless you moved in similar circles. Musical performers and composers living in the same times are considered contemporaries because they have the same past influences and the same occurring influences.
Unfortunately, it's a point not often made. Sounds too much like a pseudo-science version of General Relativity, I guess. ~Daelin 2004-04-24 12:24 EST
- It's their first hand experience, it's your second hand retelling, which would be primary source if you're verbatim (pretty much being their scribe in Q&A interview), and secondary if you're presenting an analysis (putting your POV into the mix, even if you're aiming to be NPOV). They are still a primary source, what you're making is not. See the Oregon State Trooper scene in Fahrenheit 9/11 and Fahrenhype 9/11. Check out the talk page for Tertiary Source. MMetro 04:32, 12 October 2007 (UTC)
Why I re-wrote
The examples were overly abstract ("imagine a historian used a source which used another source"), and whether something is primary or secondary is how it is used, not what its content is. Furthermore there was too much bias in favor of the accuracy of primary sources which is completely uncritical, unwarranted, and not how history is actually done. --Fastfission 15:07, 12 Sep 2004 (UTC)
New comment by Birger Hjørland
The way in which primary source, secondary source and tertiary source has been defined in Wikipedia is not in accordance with the way in which is has been defined by UNISIST in 1971 and taken over, by among others, the present writer. (See Fjordback Søndergaard; Andersen & Hjørland, 2003).
Also, the normal language in Library and information science is to speak of bibliografies and the like as secondary sources (or secundary literature).
There are variations in the use of these concepts between the humanities and the sciences, however, if a general terminology should be established, we recommend the UNISIST terminology. bored.
Fjordback Søndergaard, T.; Andersen, J. & Hjørland, B. (2003). Documents and the communication of scientific and scholarly information. Revising and updating the UNISIST model. Journal of Documentation, 59(3), 278-320. Available at: http://www.db.dk/bh/UNISIST.pdf
- Looking over that lik, that use of the term "secondary source" is to mean something very different from how historians use the term or how it is generally used in the English language. Correct me if I'm wrong, but that looks like the technical use of the term in some porn sort of information management system, and has little bearing on what most people mean when they distinguish between primary and secondary sources. As a historian, I will at least say that I've never heard of UNISIST, and it sounds like something only librarians would know about -- a relatively slim audience. However I could just be wrong about this -- could you clarify what UNISIST is and why its termology should trump comon usage? --Fastfission 17:33, 30 Mar 2005 (UTC)
- The problem is that there are numerous "common usages", and this article deals with only one of them. Gene Nygaard 14:11, 5 May 2006 (UTC)
- Anyone familiar with other common uses should add them. Note, add them, not replace them like the pro-UNISIST pposter recommended. There's enough room in this article to write, "To a historian....To a librarian...." Katherine Tredwell 20:29, 7 May 2006 (UTC)
I tried to re-write it again. All of this about the primary sources being authoritative is misleading at best, nonsense at worse. Ditto with the descriptions about "orthodox" versus "revisionist" history (which doesn't belong on this page anyway -- that's more of an issue for the historiography page). Anyway I expect a few feathers might be ruffled but hopefully we can sort this out. My current version tries not to be too normative either -- there is a lot of variety in secondary sources, and saying that they all have extensive citation is not correct, nor is it correct to say that "popular history" (whatever is meant by that here) is not concerned with primary sources (most "popular history" books, as I understand them to be, also utilize a mix of primary and secondary sources, like most "scholarly history" books). Anyway, hopefully we can sort this out and make a good entry. --Fastfission 00:58, 11 May 2006 (UTC)
- Impressively quick rewrite. I was going to postpone extensive revisions until after finals, but there's little left to do now. Katherine Tredwell 01:15, 11 May 2006 (UTC)
- Well, I'm sure there is more than could be done with it, as I am usually not as concise as I should be on these matters (and tend towards repetition). One thought I had is whether or not primary source and tertiary source should just be all merged into one big article with secondary source (with some awful name like primary, secondary, and tertiary sources)? There is a huge degree of overlap between the articles, in part because much of their definitions are, naturally, in contrast to the others, and I'm not sure there is much to say about either of them individually. (They're all problematic in their own way, and the distinction is usually one of usage by the analyst rather than provenance or content.) But that certainly can wait until after finals.. --Fastfission 01:31, 11 May 2006 (UTC)
Authority and reliability in sources
Secondary sources are not authoritative. Secondary sources include many types of works, such as:
- Thoughtful accounts written by careful historians.
- Inaccurate accounts written by careless historians.
- Good accounts written by popular writers.
- Wildly inaccurate accounts based on forgeries.
- Controversial accounts.
Holy Blood, Holy Grail is a secondary source, but it isn't authoritative.
Primary sources are not authoritative either. They can be written, for instance, by confused people who misunderstand what they see, or people who are reporting rumors, or people who have a motive for distorting the truth. If they are written after the fact (like memoirs), they may include patchy or altered memories.
The confession of someone tortured by the Inquisition into confessing to witchcraft is a primary source. Someone reporting a vision of the Virgin Mary is a primary source.
I add that the article is leaning further towards favoring political history over other forms of history with the recent additions concerning revisionist history. I hope in future to correct this drift. Katherine Tredwell 22:49, 10 May 2006 (UTC)
I'm just wondering whether this entry, which seems to be written by and for us historians, should also address the more general issue of the preferred place of secondary sources in Wikipedia? See the guideline on Reliable sources. --SteveMcCluskey 20:22, 11 May 2006 (UTC)
- I think that's more of a Wikipedia policy issue, not something that should be in an article on this subject. --Fastfission 20:28, 11 May 2006 (UTC)
- Historians spend a lot of attention on secondary sources vs primary sources. Do others scholars have a different take?? As for political (& military) history--well that is the dominant theme in 80-90% of Wiki's entries. The newer historiographical trends just don't appear. (see History of Canada for example). Rjensen 20:33, 11 May 2006 (UTC)
- Someone has already pointed out that primary source, secondary source, and tertiary source mean different things in different disciplines. Such attitudes definitely should be incorporated. Right now we just have a short section on law. If most of Wikipedia's historical entries are on political and military history, so what? It's common knowledge (or should be) that Wikipedia has biases in its coverage, and there are editors actively working to fix that. It is not the case that 80-90% of historians do political history. An article or section on what historians do should reflect what historians do, not what Wikipedians do. Katherine Tredwell 15:30, 12 May 2006 (UTC)
- the article reflects the current practice of most historians, not just political. Rjensen 16:13, 12 May 2006 (UTC)
- It's undergone a dramatic rewrite since I commented that it was biased towards political history. I hope that the article keeps its newfound general applicability. I hope my observation helped spur the change. Katherine Tredwell 16:50, 12 May 2006 (UTC)
Many disciplines other than history make the distinction between P and S sources. Why are historians grabbing all the gusto?
My only complaint is that this article pretends that only historians make the distinction between primary and secondary sources. Literary theoreticians, art historians, philosophers, etc. all make the same distinction. Does no one know this? Anyway it is almost 5 in the morning here and I haven't been to bed yet, so I am not taking on the task. I am just wondering how the article got so skewed?
Also, if I changed titles / headings above, it was only to get the page to format a content box. It wasn't malicious. Saudade7 02:46, 25 September 2007 (UTC)
- I believe the article specifically mentions history in order to emphasise that it is not about the distinction between primary and secondary sources as used on Wikipedia. Rjm at sleepers 06:30, 25 September 2007 (UTC)
- Also, the definition of a secondary source as given is not the same as the definition in other areas of study - see the sections on law and genealogy. Rjm at sleepers 06:33, 25 September 2007 (UTC)
- While law and genealogy might have different definitions, you will find that most fields use the terms in just the same way as described in this article. It just seems a little weird (to me) to find the terms portrayed as falling under such an exclusive usage. I wouldn't want undergraduate students, who sadly rely too much on the Wiki (although I believe that the Wiki will eventually be the academic source), to think that such criteria did not apply to their own scholarship.Saudade7 15:12, 25 September 2007 (UTC)
- The problem with the current definition (IMO) is that while "a study written by a scholar about a topic" is certainly secondary, not every secondary source is written by a scholar - a newspaper article for example. Rjm at sleepers 16:24, 25 September 2007 (UTC)
- Many other people than historians make the distinction, but the distinction is always a historiographic one. For example, the only reason for a scientist to make the distinction is when she is studying the historiography of some scientific idea. Same with literary ideas, etc. Historiographic issues come up in all fields, and sometimes the people in those fields don't even know it; they just use the primary/secondary distinction without knowing the theory behind it and where that theory came from. COGDEN 17:38, 15 November 2007 (UTC)
- Different disciplines apparently do use different definitions of primary and secondary. Primary literature in science is not a primary source as far as historiography is concerned. Similarly, the definition of a secondary source in family history is not consistent with the current definition in this article. I am not familiar with the definitions in library science, but it is at least plausible that they are different again. Rjm at sleepers 08:12, 16 November 2007 (UTC)
- Rjm, don't you see? The be all and end all is historiography. ;) •Jim62sch• 19:36, 16 November 2007 (UTC)
Current (8th Nov '07) definition of secondary and primary
The current definition seems to have taken us some distance from what I was taught. Consider Richard III. A large amount of what we "know" about his reign comes from Crowland, Polydore Virgil and Thomas Moore. Using the definition I was taught, these are all secondary sources despite the fact that they are the original source of a great deal of "information". If I were to write that Richard III had a wart on his left buttock, I would not be a primary source, even though this was "an original source of the information being discussed". Rjm at sleepers 07:51, 8 November 2007 (UTC)
Can somebody come up with any reliable source that states the definition of primary and secondary used by historiographers differs from that used by library scientists? If not, I'm going to delete the parts of this article that make that suggestion because I think they are original research. COGDEN 17:41, 15 November 2007 (UTC)
- I'm not sure whether you will regard the source as acceptable, but the following was cut and pasted from Lafayette Library page on the web http://ww2.lafayette.edu/~library/guides/primarysources/definitions.html. I have bolded part of it for emphasis.
- "The definition of a primary source varies depending upon the academic discipline and the context in which it is used.
- In the humanities, a primary source could be defined as something that was created either during the time period being studied or afterward by individuals reflecting on their involvement in the events of that time.
- In the social sciences, the definition of a primary source would be expanded to include numerical data that has been gathered to analyze relationships between people, events, and their environment.
- In the natural sciences, a primary source could be defined as a report of original findings or ideas. These sources often appear in the form of research articles with sections on methods and results."
- This synopsis appears to account for the broad scope of primary sources across various disciplines in a much more inclusive way than does the current content in the WP article on primary sources. (Conspicuously absent for WP purposes here are original philosophical, scriptural and other conceptual works by the original authors. Some examples are works by Aristotle, Kant, Karl Marx, Charles Peirce, Wittgenstein, scripture like the Bible, Bhagavad Gita, Quar'an, and numerous other original sources of important but highly obscure or complex concepts that have come to be widely interpreted by secondary and tertiary sources.)
I'd support the inclusion of the Lafayette College Library synopsis in primary sources so as to reduce the overemphasis on historiography that currently characterizes that article. In the broader context, primary and secondary source classification is not so much time dependant (as in histoiography) as it is related to the proximity to the origin of the concept or data under study, which often relates to how close it is to the person or group from which the concept or data originated, irrespective of the time at which it was written. As Cogden and others have noted, a single document or book might function as either primary or secondary, depending on context and the nature of the topic under scrutiny. For purposes of scholarly writing, the emphasis on primary sources in disciplines such as historiography has mainly to do with tracking things back to the original source so as to get particular information "from the horse's mouth", so to speak. in Wikipedia, the goal is different when large sets of primary sources are involved -- sources that often lend to conflicting interpretations. In WP, the core editorial policy guides us to summarize material in a given topic for the readers, not to provide original conclusions or novel interpretation of primary sources as is often the case in scholarly writing. For that purpose we are directed to rely on secondary sources that have already put forward such conclusions or interpretations. ... Kenosis 13:46, 16 November 2007 (UTC)
- Lafayette College's website is not a reliable source. It's not peer reviewed, certainly, but there does not even appear to be a fact checking process. It's just some librarian with a web page? Is the Lafayette College webmaster the primary source for this idea? If not, how would we know? Mr. Webmaster doesn't include any citations?
- On the second issue, the historiographic definition is not time dependent. You'll see that in one of the reliable citations I introduced in the primary source article. The modern historiographic definition is exactly the same definition as the Lafayette College library webmaster's definitions, which aren't really separate definitions, just applications of the same definition to different fields. COGDEN 17:32, 16 November 2007 (UTC)
- I'm sorry, what? The website isn't peer-reviewed? Is there a special symbol or seal of approval that indicates that a site has been fact-checked by a professional fact-checker (whatever in Hades that is)? •Jim62sch• 19:33, 16 November 2007 (UTC)
- I'd suggest you read WP:RS. Why do you even want to cite some librarian's help page anyway, when there are plenty of peer-reviewed journal articles and books on the subject? Let's use the most reliable sources on this, because clearly, they are available. COGDEN 20:40, 16 November 2007 (UTC)
- Actually, if the WP:PSTS portion of the WP:NOR policy is going to link to main-namespace articles such as this one, along with primary sources and tertiary sources, broad summaries of the concepts across multiple disciplines are vital components of the content of these source classification articles (primary source, secondary source and tertiary source). Certainly there are such citations that could be found other than UMaryland, James Cook University and Lafayette College that can be tracked back further, perhaps even to their original sources, but these secondary/tertiary summaries are perfectly appropriate to sum up the basic concept for readers/editors who are unfamiliar with the concept. The very notion that sources, even under the WP:RS content guideline analysis, need to be demonstrated as peer reviewed is simply incorrect. I see no such evidence in support of any of the presently provided citations in this article or in the article on primary sources. At this stage there is something of a rebuttable presumption, I should think, where anyone opposing the library science usage as presented on several college-level websites would need to show other reliable sources in order to debunk these college-library-website explanations and summaries of what constitutes a primary, secondary and/or tertiary source. ... Kenosis (talk) 02:10, 17 November 2007 (UTC)
- I'd suggest you read WP:RS. Why do you even want to cite some librarian's help page anyway, when there are plenty of peer-reviewed journal articles and books on the subject? Let's use the most reliable sources on this, because clearly, they are available. COGDEN 20:40, 16 November 2007 (UTC)
- What I see is an a priori determination that the current definitions are somehow lacking in substance, and yet the counter-arguments against same appear to be lacking lucidity and universally beneficial purpose. I am rather bemused by the current situation and await a logical substantiation of the points raised counter to current guidelines. •Jim62sch• 22:33, 17 November 2007 (UTC)
Looking for consensus
In this edit, an anon puts a fact tag on something that is incredibly obious to me, so blindingly obvious, it's like seeking a citation for the sky being blue (on Earth). I'd like to remove it. Who's with me? Better yet, anyone got a source? WLU (talk) 20:25, 7 January 2008 (UTC)
== Looking for answers ==
hi poeples but i'm doing this sorce analysis and i need a little help so i was wondering if anyone can help just give me an e-mail at (little_miss_epa at liveyadayadayada) that would be great thanx!! —Preceding unsigned comment added by 220.127.116.11 (talk) 08:37, 26 May 2009 (UTC)
From the article:
"Bob "The Blade" Robinson is currently an afternoon disc jockey on rock station 96rock in Raleigh, N.C. and is part of the "Foster & Blade" afternoon rock show which airs between 2 and 6pm each weekday. He reached legendary status in Raleigh/Durham radio history by resigning on the air one evening after being a country disc jockey for three days."
What exactly is this doing at the start of the article? Surely as definition of the term "secondary source" is more appropriate than some waffle about some DJ? Is this deliberate vandalism? I will AGF, but this opening doesn't make any sense. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 18.104.22.168 (talk) 11:27, 5 July 2009 (UTC)
Family history -- moved from article
I moved this here from the article:
- Family history
- "A secondary source is a record or statement of an event or circumstance made by a non-eyewitness or by someone not closely connected with the event or circumstances, recorded or stated verbally either at or sometime after the event, or by an eye-witness at a time after the event when the fallibility of memory is an important factor." Consequently, an autobiography written after the event is a secondary source, even though it may be the first published description of an event. For example, many first hand accounts of events in the 1st world war that were written in the post war years were influenced by the then prevailing perception of the war which was significantly different from contemporary opinion.
- Diaries, if written at the time, are primary sources. An autobiography, if written years after the event, is not a primary source. For example, an autobiography may say "I was born on such and such a date in such and such a place." This is not and cannot be a primary source for the birth information. Both the definition and 1st world war example are sourced. I am therefore returning the section to the article. Rjm at sleepers (talk) 07:07, 29 December 2009 (UTC)
- 22.214.171.124 has placed a fact tag in the first sentence of this section. The sentence is in quotation marks and duly referenced at the end of the sentence. I am at a loss to understand what further citation is sought. I'll look up the page number and add it. I can also reference similar statements in other family history textbooks. Rjm at sleepers (talk) 18:28, 29 December 2009 (UTC)
- Having looked at a number of family history textbooks, I find that although primary and secondary sources are usually mentioned, a specific definition is rarely given. None the less, the definition quoted is in good agreement with the definition used in other branches of history. Rjm at sleepers (talk) 19:11, 29 December 2009 (UTC)
Changing "is" to "can be" is not a matter of grammar; it changes the meaning. The definition in the previous sentence is clear that any account written sufficiently after the fact that fallibility of memory becomes a factor is a secondary source. Rjm at sleepers (talk) 17:49, 31 December 2009 (UTC)
I know dictionaries are sometimes considered secondary and sometimes tertiary, but being that there's no widespread agreement on which they are I think it's inappropriate to just flat out list them as a tertiary source in the lead of (particularly) this article. See 1 and 2. If you know a little about how dictionaries are written they sure seem secondary to me, and they are certainly authoritative in their area (defining words). Mystylplx (talk) 01:13, 7 November 2011 (UTC)
Is a bare conjecture a source?
Can we really call a scholarly opinion about the past (published in a book or journal) that is based on no primary evidence a reliable source? For example, if a scholar says that an event happened for a particular reason without any source material to support the reason, is that a reliable source? Can such an opinion really be cited as dealing with anything of substance? -- spincontrol 05:15, 10 August 2012 (UTC)
- yes it's a RS. Scholarly books and articles are closely monitored by other scholars and if someone makes a wild conjecture it will get shot down. Scholars typically look at hundreds or thousands of primary source documents, and only cite a tiny fraction of them. So it's highly unlikely that "without any source material to support the reason" applies. Rjensen (talk) 05:29, 10 August 2012 (UTC)
RfC: Dubious statement in section In science and medicine
|This discussion has also been posted to Wikipedia_talk:WikiProject_Medicine#Talk|
The sentence "Unlike in the humanities, scientific and medical peer reviewed sources are not generally considered secondary unless they are a review or a meta-analysis." isn't backed up by any reliable outside source I can find. - Stillwaterising (talk)
There's a recent book (April 2001) that appears to be an in-depth and authoritative source on this topic by Bobick and Berard titled Science and Technology Resources: A Guide for Information Professionals and Researchers The book says on page two regarding scientific and technical sources: "Secondary sources are defined as those sources and publication types that compile, organize, analyze, synthesize, and repackage information from primary sources." I searched the book for the term "medical" and "health" but did not find a differential definition for this term. This source also says about the same thing. I'm going to mark this statement as disputed. - Stillwaterising (talk) 06:27, 16 September 2012 (UTC)
- From what I've been told, policy statements *like articles that start with wp:* do not have to match what reliable outside sources say, and mainspace articles do not have to match what policy statements say. Since this a mainspace article, all statements need to be based on reliable independant (outside of wikimedia) sources. - Stillwaterising (talk) 19:20, 18 September 2012 (UTC)
Reliable source found for definitions of sources in Health Sciences
There's a recent book (October 2010, 3rd revision) that appears to be an in-depth and authoritative source on medical sources by Judith Garrard titled Health Sciences Literature Review Made Easy. This book has 143 citations according to Google Scholar. On page 30 there's a definition of Primary and Secondary sources in Health Sciences which are defined as follows:
*Primary source materials are original research papers written by the scientists who actually conducted the study. An example of primary source material is the description of the Purpose, Methods, and Results section of a research paper in a scientific journal by the authors who conducted the study.
*Secondary source materials are papers or other documents that summarize the original work of others. In other words, secondary source materials are based on information from primary source materials. Although secondary source materials often are written by individuals other than those who actually did the research, it is possible for authors to summarize their own previously published or reported research, in which case, these later summary descriptions can still be considered secondary source materials.
Examples of secondary source materials include a summary of the literature in the Introduction of each scientific research paper published in a journal, a description of what is known about a disease or treatment in a chapter in a reference book, or the synthesis you write as you review the literature.
Being that there's no apparent objection to removing the dubious statement and revising the article, I have started revising the section that was called "In science and medicine" and renamed it "In science and technology" and added another subsection for medicine. For reference, the revision that was being debated above is here. - Stillwaterising (talk) 19:24, 18 September 2012 (UTC)
- I have moved and re-ordered the statement about primary sources in science - it was in the section about secondary sources in the humanities. I have removed the "definition" of a primary source from the humanities section since it was not sufficiently precise and this article is about secondary sources. Rjm at sleepers (talk) 06:39, 19 September 2012 (UTC)
I am about to remove the diagram that was added recently. It looks like a Venn diagram and therefore implies that primary sources are a subset of secondary sources which is not true. Rjm at sleepers (talk) 10:52, 20 March 2013 (UTC)
A survey of previous work .. is secondary source information
I disagree with this statement (currently in WP:Secondary) "A survey of previous work in the field in a primary peer-reviewed source is secondary source information." At least in the technical publishing business where I work, there is a huge difference between the intro to a primary source and a review article. The former is setting up the background for a specific set of results to be disclosed, whereas a review is more comprehensive and is detached from supporting the disclosure of new results. If Wikipedia's allows introductions to papers to serve as secondary sources, we are inviting abuse of this guideline. --Smokefoot (talk) 14:15, 8 June 2013 (UTC)
- Firstly, this article is not about Wikipedia policy, it is about the term secondary source as understood in a number of fields, partcularly history. Of course, a survey of previous work is different from a review article, but both are secondary sources. Rjm at sleepers (talk) 06:17, 9 June 2013 (UTC)
- Holmes, particularly the introduction