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Evidence-based Practice

Primary vs. Secondary Sources

primary source can be an original document or object often
created during the time period being reviewed.

Key Features:

  • Offers first-hand thoughts related to a particular event
  • Created by eyewitnesses or recorders who experienced the events or conditions being documented
  • Includes direct evidence or materials
  • Can be subjective, especially when dealing with first-hand accounts

Why Use Them?

  • Serves as an original source of information about the topic
  • Provides access to a window into a specific event or time period
  • Could provide background information about how an intervention or treatment affects a specific group 

Some Examples of Primary Sources Include:

secondary source is an analysis or interpretation of primary sources
that often do not include firsthand experience.

Key Features:

  • Describes or explains primary sources
  • Are one or more steps removed from the events or conditions being discussed
  • May include pictures, quotes, or graphics of primary sources 
  • Are more likely to be objective; try to avoid distortions based on personal feelings

Why Use Them?

  • Offers credibility to your clinical, PICOT, or research need by providing an interpretation of materials by established experts studying in a particular field
  • Can broaden your perspective 
  • Can provide historical context based on other events that have taken place since the original event or work

Some Examples of Secondary Sources:

Next: Review Types of EBP Sources

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