Materials of the Humanities
The primary sources of the humanities are the original texts in literature, religion, and philosophy, and the original scores in music. A second type of primary source used by humanist far more than the original text is the edited text. Edited text may include an introduction, notes, and explanations.
The secondary sources of humanistic materials include criticism, interpretation, opinion, and performance. Secondary sources often have as long of a history as the primary sources. In addition, secondary sources have an added human element - the critic, reviewer, or performer. At this level of interpretation, our appreciation of the material is based both upon the work itself, and the artist who render it for us.
Tertiary sources of humanistic material include textbooks, introductions, popularizations, biographics, histories, and reference sources for the humanities.
Researchers in the humanities prefer the monograph (book). One also notices a much wider time spread in the materials used. For example, publications of the past five years of most importance to scientific research; the humanist, however, is likely to be interested in works of twenty to one hundred years ago, or more. Humanists tend to browse resources more than scientists.
Source: Humanities Research Tools LibGuide at Washington State University Libraries. Reused with permission from B. Jane Scales, MA, MLIS, Electronic Projects Librarian