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Engineering 100 Section 450

What type of source is it?

Primary sources: A first description of original research conducted by authors, including methodology and results.  

Examples include:

  • Journal articles 
  • Datasets

Below is an example of a primary source: a scholarly journal article from the journal Acta Biomaterialia that examines the effects of humidity on gecko setae. 

Secondary sources: Literature that synthesizes information produced in primary literature. They are secondary because they are at least one step removed from the primary sources they discuss.

Examples include: 

  • Review articles
  • Periodicals (such as newspapers)
  • Books written by researchers

Below is an example of a secondary source: a scholarly review article from the journal Micromachines that summarizes self-cleaning surfaces, some of which are inspired by gecko setae.

Tertiary sources: Information further distilled from primary and secondary formats. When conducting research, it can be very helpful to consult tertiary sources to orient yourself to a topic. Tertiary sources can provide basic background information and can clue you in to helpful keywords.

Examples include:

  • Encyclopedias 
  • Manuals and handbooks

Below is an example of a section on gecko setae from a tertiary source: Encyclopedia of Adaptations in the Natural World