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Primary, Secondary and Tertiary Sources: Tertiary

This guide intends to clarify and differentiate three types of research sources, helping users discern and select academic-quality sources of information.

Is a Source TERTIARY?

Sources that compile and summarize information on many different, conceptually-related topics, sources such as encyclopedias, almanacs, subject dictionaries, etc., are TERTIARY sources.

Tertiary Sources: A Closer Look

TERTIARY sources usually compile information on related topics in a single work, providing information at a glance, but usually not in any great depth. Tertiary sources typically draw from secondary, and sometimes from primary, sources.


  • The eminent Charles Darwin is discussed in many dictionaries and encyclopedias of famous scientists. These are tertiary sources.
  • One such tertiary source available as an e-book from the NYIT Library is A Dictionary of Scientists (Oxford University Press).


A tertiary source summarizes information about a lot of different persons or subjects, like this dictionary of scientists.

Google Scholar

Use Google Scholar to find academic-quality information (articles, papers, reports) on the Web.

Google Scholar Search


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Eduardo Rivera
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