Learner discussion on Gallup: upgrade the quality of information consumed in learning
1. primary – original sources
2. secondary – books about original sources
3. tertiary – bibliographic lists. Textbook and reference books
— less edited and curated, footnoted
4. quaternary sources: internet articles
5. quinary – internet self published articles
– unedited and no footnotes
6. senary – internet opinion articles
7. septenary – internet opinions
8. octonary – reactivity opinions, gossip
9. nonary – fake news: intended to manipulate, deceive
10. Denary: Absolutely crap
11. Poisonous crap
There’s an interesting alternate system for counting first, second, third, etc. up to tenth. It’s primary, secondary, tertiary, quaternary, quinary, senary, septenary, octonary, nonary, and denary. There’s also a word for twelfth, duodenary, though that — along with all the words after tertiary — is rarely used.
There’s no word relating to the number eleven but there is one that relates to the number twelve: duodenary.
What does primary vs. secondary vs. tertiary mean?
The distinction between primary, secondary and tertiary sources hinges on how far from the original event or phenomenon the information source is created. Is it first-hand knowledge? A second-hand interpretation? A third-hand synthesis and summary of what is known?
Primary sources are created as close to the original event or phenomenon as it is possible to be. For example, a photograph or video of an event is a primary source. Data from an experiment is a primary source.
Secondary sources are one step removed from that. Secondary sources are based on or about the primary sources. For example, articles and books in which authors interpret data from another research team’s experiment or archival footage of an event are usually considered secondary sources.
Tertiary sources are one further step removed from that. Tertiary sources summarize or synthesize the research in secondary sources. For example, textbooks and reference books are tertiary sources.
Why is this important? Because different kinds of research call for using primary, secondary, and tertiary sources in different ways. For example, a research paper usually requires a combination of primary and secondary sources.
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