Primary vs. Secondary Sources

 
In general, primary sources are materials produced by someone who has participated in or directly witnessed an action or event. Primary source materials include original research, eyewitness accounts, diaries, artifacts, interviews, etc. In terms of nursing literature, a primary source might be an article written by someone describing a study they conducted or a clinical trial they completed, surveys of hospital staff, interviews of patients, or case studies. On the other hand, secondary source materials are descriptions, analyses or recountings of something that is primary. An original research study is primary but a review or summary of someone's research would be secondary; an interview would be primary but an article describing someone's interview would be secondary.

Here is a chart with examples of primary and secondary sources in nursing research:

Primary Secondary
clinical or research studies critique of a study, clinical trial or procedure
ethnographical research a synthesis of various research findings/evidenced-based reports
grounded theory historical analysis of research on a topic
surveys or interviews interpretation or review of previous research
heuristics textbook
technical reports