Answered By: Jennifer Stidham
Last Updated: Apr 06, 2020     Views: 3992

Secondary sources describe, discuss, interpret, comment upon, analyze, evaluate, summarize, and process primary sources.

Common examples of a secondary sources include:

  • Biographies
  • Journal Articles
  • Literary Criticism
  • Monographs (books) written about the topic
  • Reviews of books, movies, musical recordings,. works of art, etc.

The original short story or book that you are researching is a primary source in this case, and the secondary sources that you are searching for will interpret or criticize various aspects of the work, like character development, plot, themes, etc.

The HCC libraries have a great selection of databases where you can find these secondary sources on English/literary topics. You can find the databases by clicking on the "Databases" link on the library homepage and then choosing "English" from the "Subject" drop-down menu at the top.

Depending upon the book or short story's author and publication date, you might try Contemporary Literary Criticism or Literary Reference Center, linked below. Some of our Multi-subject databases might also contain information, such as JSTOR or General Reference Center. Just choose "Multi-subject" from the "Subject" drop-down menu at the top. 

Your searches could begin with the title of the book or short story and that may be sufficient, or your search could begin with the author's name or by terms that describe your research focus or thesis could work as well.

For example, a search for "Romeo and Juliet" or "William Shakespeare" or "gender AND 'Romeo and Juliet'" will all "work" to some extent as searches, but you will need to decide how focused you want your results list to be.

Also, look for options or limit your search to "full-text" articles or by a certain time-span or type of publication - "literary criticism" and "work overviews" might be useful options.

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