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What are secondary sources?

Secondary sources offer analysis of primary sources. In the field of literature, some examples might be a book or article that examines or interprets the work or works of an author, explores the history of a literary movement, or a book review. Something to consider when choosing which secondary sources to use is that some may come from popular sources and some from scholarly.

Popular and scholarly secondary sources

Popular sources may be books and articles newspapers and magazines that are intended for a general audience and that may or may not be written by experts on the topic covered. You'll find many book reviews come from popular sources and, at times, these may be all the analysis you can find for newer and less well-known authors. However, in college-level papers and research projects, secondary analysis from scholarly sources is usually preferred. Scholarly books and journal articles are written by scholars (experts in their field) for other scholars, and the publishers that produce these books and journals use a process called peer review to determine which manuscripts they will publish.  See The Scholarly Conversation section of this guide for more information about how to determine if an article or book is from a peer-reviewed publisher.

Literature-focused databases

Multidisciplinary databases

Finding the full text

After you locate an article in a database, use the red MHLinks button  to locate the full text.  Ask a librarian if you need help!

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