The raison d'être of scholars is to attempt to describe, explain, interpret and analyze issues & events. Scholars use evidence to support their interpretations which are most often published in the form of books and journal articles (secondary sources). So why should you use secondary sources?
- Written by expert scholars. Before publication academic books and articles are vetted by other scholars in a process known as peer review.
- Peer review ensures that scholarly books and articles are more reliable and credible than other types of publications.
- Provide historical/broader/in depth context and analysis of a topic. For example, if you are researching Shigeru Kayano, you may want to use a scholarly source to get information on the Ainu peoples of Japan.
- Scholarly articles and books are based on evidence (primary sources) that are cited in the footnotes and bibliography. They are often a quick way to identify potential primary sources that you too may wish to use as evidence in your research paper.
Keep in mind
- Expert scholars are likely to use specialized terminology and theory in their analyses making scholarly articles and books sometimes difficult to understand.
- There may not be a book-length biography of your subject.