Marymount California University Library

ID 230: Assignment #3 - Distinguishing & Selecting Between Primary, Secondary, & Tertiary Sources

Assignment Checklist

Your Assignment #3 will include:

  • 1 primary source with an image of the source
    • label as Primary Source and provide the author, title of work, publisher/creator, published date. 
    • write at least 75-100 word analysis statement 
  • 1 secondary source with an image of the source   
    • label as Secondary Source and provide the author, title of work, publisher/creator, published date. 
    • write at least 75-100 word analysis statement 
  • 1 tertiary source with an image of the source
    • label as Tertiary Source and provide the author, title of work, publisher/creator, published date. 
    • write at least 75-100 word analysis statement  

The Marymount California University Library

The Information Timeline

Getting Started with Assignment #3

The term Information Timeline refers to the way that information is produced and distributed, and how it changes over time. Usually it's used to describe the progression of media coverage relating to a particular newsworthy event or topic. Understanding how the information timeline works will help you to know what kinds of information may be available on your topic as you locate and evaluate research sources.  

The development of the information timeline is connected to the amount of time after an event: 

  • As the event is unfolding - Radio, television, internet, Mobil communication, and social media  
  • 24 hours - Newspapers
  • 1 week - Magazines
  • 1 month - Popular Magazines
  • 6 months - Academic/Scholarly Journal
  • 1 year - Books & Government publications
  • 1 + year - Reference Books


Assignment Instructions

     For this assignment, you will be searching for one primary source, one secondary source, and one tertiary source  that you are considering using to assist you in answering your research question. Continue researching on the same topic you selected and create a statement at the top of the paper stating your research topic. You will submit a citation, an image of each source, and a statement analysis of at least 75-100 words for each source. 

     Keep in mind that primary, secondary, and tertiary sources can come in many forms. Check out the different forms in this library guide to assist you in selecting a form for each source. For example, a primary source can be an artifact, photograph, interview, or a speech to name a few forms.  

     The purpose of this assignment is to work on analyzing primary, secondary, and tertiary source. Your goal is to analyze your source excerpt as deeply and as thoroughly as possible. Do not simply provide a general summary or overview of your source. Think concretely and critically about its content, its historical context, the cultural values that shape it, and its relevance to your research. What are the author’s tone, style, and argument?  What are the source's strengths and weaknesses?  Read between the lines to discover its biases and assumptions. Depending on the nature of the primary source you select, the source may be as short as a paragraph or two or as long as dozens of pages.     

     In structuring your primary, secondary, and tertiary 75-100 word statement analysis for each source, you must address the following questions below. You do not need to address the questions in order, but be sure that you address all questions that are relevant to your sources. Your 75-100 word analysis statement for each source must be a polished piece of writing. I will grade it for both content and style. 


  1. What type of source is it and why is it considered that source (primary, secondary, or tertiary)? 
  2. When was it created?
  3. Who created it?

Author's Intent  

  1. Who is the intended audience for this source?
  2. Why do you think the author created this source?

Historical Context

  1. What larger historical events, processes, or structures might have influenced this text?

Content of Source

  1. What historical facts do you learn from this source?
  2. What biases or other cultural factors might have shaped the message of this source?

Relevance of the Source

  1. What research question are you using this source to answer?
  2. How might this source confirm or contradict issues raised in other sources?
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