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Referencing (TAFE)

Secondary Sources

'You’ve probably heard that you should avoid secondary sources when possible. It’s true - if you find great information being quoted or paraphrased somewhere, it’s well worth your effort to track down the original source so you can read it for yourself and therefore cite it directly' (McAdoo 2010).


Why use the original source?

  • By finding and reading the original source, you will become better informed about your research topic
  • And you can verify that the context of the quote supports the point you want to make

However, it’s okay to cite a secondary source if you can't find the original work, or it is out of print.


Note: In the text, name the original source and give the citation for the secondary source. Only give the secondary source in the reference list. This means you are citing a source that you have not directly read but has been quoted in another work which you have read. In the example below, you have read Burnett, who is citing Mandela but you have not read Mandela directly. You would like to cite Mandela. 


In-text Citation

Rule: Primary Author (as cited in Secondary Author Year:page number)

Mandela (as cited in Burnett 2010:625)


Reference List

Note: List only the secondary source (i.e. author/editor of the book you read)

Rule: Secondary Author AA (Year) Title of secondary work, Publisher, Location.

Burnett A (ed) (2010) Chambers book of speeches, Chambers, Edinburgh.

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