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Communications & Writing Research Guide

This guide is intended to help students in all levels of writing and communications classes - whether you are new to doing research at Bentley or need a refresher!

Primary Sources

What are primary sources?

Primary sources are first-hand accounts of an event, topic, or historical time period and are original documents created or experienced contemporaneously with the event being researched.


  • Newspaper accounts
  • Letters, diaries, journals
  • Personal accounts, autobiographies, memoirs
  • Interviews
  • Speeches
  • Creative works
  • Data
  • Government documents

NOTE: Many of these types of primary sources can be found in books and other print resources.

Secondary Sources

What are secondary sources?

Secondary sources are one step removed from a primary source and are analyses, interpretations, or critiques of primary sources.


  • Books
  • Articles
  • Essays
  • Criticisms or commentaries

Tertiary Sources

What are tertiary sources?

Tertiary sources provide a general overview or summary of a topic and may contain both primary and secondary sources. 


  • Encyclopedias
  • Almanacs
  • Textbooks
  • Other reference sources