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COM173 Public Speaking: How to... Guides

This guide is designed for COM173 Public Speaking.

How to...






  Primary Source

  • Original, first-hand account of an event or time period
  • Usually written or made during or close to the event or time period
  • Original, creative writing or works of art
  • Factual, not interpretive
  • Report of scientific discoveries
  • Results of experiments
  • Results of clinical trials
  • Social and political science research results
  • Factual, not interpretive

Secondary  Source

  • Analyzes and interprets primary sources
  • Second-hand account of an historical event
  • Interprets creative work
  • Analyzes and interprets research results
  • Analyzes and interprets scientific discoveries




  • Diaries, journals, and letters
  • Newspaper and magazine articles (factual accounts)
  • Government records (census, marriage, military)
  • Photographs, maps, postcards, posters
  • Recorded or transcribed speeches
  • Interviews with participants or witnesses (e.g., The Civil Right Movement)
  • Interviews with people who lived during a particular time (e.g., genocide in Rwanda)
  • Songs, Plays, novels, stories
  • Paintings, drawings, and sculptures
  • Published results of research studies
  • Published results of scientific experiments
  • Published results of clinical trials
  • Proceedings of conferences and meetings


  • Biographies
  • Histories
  • Literary Criticism
  • Book, Art, and Theater Reviews
  • Newspaper articles that interpret
  • Publications about the significance of research or experiments
  • Analysis of a clinical trial
  • Review of the results of several experiments or trials


 Specific Examples             


Primary Source

Secondary Source

Literature "Song of Myself" (Poem) Journal article about the poem's historical importance
Psychology Results of clinical trial to treat ADD by modifying diet Book about ways to treat childhood ADD without drugs
Politics and Government U.S. Census Statistics Book about suburban population changes in U.S.
History Recorded interview with Choctaw American Indian Journal article about Native Americans who served in WWII
Social Science Diary of Anne Frank Book about diaries kept during the Holocaust
Art Photographs by Diane Arbus Magazine article about 20th century female photographers


     Source:  "Research Help: Primary vs. Secondary Sources". Borough of Manhattan Community College. A. Philip
                   Randolph Memorial Library (

Criteria Magazines Journals
Level: Popular, "easy reading" Scholarly, technical, research based
References: None Yes, good bibliographies and/or footnotes
Advertisements: Lots, general products, foods, household goods, etc. None or only special products aimed at professional users
Audience: Lay people, "just folks" Scholars, students of the field 
Publishers: For-profit corporations Learned societies, professional associations, governmental organizations, education institutions, or others interested in furthering knowledge 
Inclusion: Single editor or board judging piece on interest, style, readability, and conformity to the magazine's purpose 

Editorial board of fellow scholars reviewing the work for validity, reliability, contribution


People, places, general illustrations, few graphs, tables, etc. 

Generally fewer visuals; when included, tend to be tables, graphs, charts


Glossy, "snazzy", colorful, good looking 

Good paper, high quality production


Start with page 1 each issue

Continuous through volume 

 * The word "journal" or lack thereof does not necessarily indicate whether or not an item is a journal. Source: Montana State University Libraries (

What is peer reviewed articles?

  • Peer reviewed articles are the articles  that have been reviewed and approved by scholars in the author's field or area of expertise. Peer reviewed journals are called peer-reviewed journals or refereed journals.

Search the library databases, many of which allow you to limit the search results to peer-reviewed or scholarly articles:

  • Read the database description first, to determine whether the database includes peer-reviewed articles
  • Check  the box which allows you to limit your results to peer-reviewed articles. For example, Academic Search Premier, on the search screen, check the box "Limit to Peer Reviewed" under "Search Options - Limit Your Results"
  • Look at the screen of "Search Results", check the box to limit peer-reviewed under the tab of "Refine Results", if you didn't set up the search for peer-reviewed articles at the beginning.
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