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Physical Therapy

What is a primary source?

A primary source is an original eyewitness account written by the researchers or clinicians who made the actual observations or measurements. 

What is a secondary source?

A secondary source is an account written at least one step removed from the person who made the original observation. 

Primary Sources

Secondary Sources

Original Research Articles: They are published in peer reviewed journals. These research articles report on the findings of a scientists work. They should include a description of how the research was done and what the results mean.  Review Articles: While published in peer reviewed articles, they are not considered primary sources. They synthesize and summarize a work of a particular subfield. If articles do not have a materials and methods sections, it is a good indicator it is a secondary source. 
Conference Papers: This is considered a primary source. Researchers present their research to conference attendees. It may or may not be peer reviewed.  Editorials/Opinion/Commentary/Perspectives:  These are  where authors express their own personal belief on an issue. While these articles may be well researched, they are not considered peer reviewed
Technical Reports: These are typically published from government and health agencies. They are not considered to be peer reviewed.  Trade Publication Articles: These articles lie in between the standard scholarly journals and the popular publication journals. They are aimed towards medical professions. They tend to summarize original research or reporting on industry news.   
Dissertations/Thesis: These are often the product of research done by a PhD or Master's degree student. They often go into great detail about the methods used for research.  News: Science news articles can be found in popular newspapers, magazines, trade publications, and scholarly publications. While they are not considered a primary source, they often will cite original research.  
  Blog Posts:  While many scientists use blogging as a way to share their daily research and more, it is not considered scholarly writing. It is however a great way to communicate with others. 
Books: Books are not considered primary sources because they typically describe and interpret primary research found in journal articles. 

Information adapted from:
Swoger, B (n.d.) 'Types of scientific information', The undergraduate science librarian, viewed March 15, 2017 at