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SSI2-170: Space, Place and Values: Background

Primary, Secondary & Tertiary Sources

1.  Primary sources are the raw materials of scholarship.

2.  Secondary sources report on or analyze and interpret primary sources.

3.  Tertiary sources offer overviews or syntheses of primary and secondary source materials.

Remember: Context is everything!  A source can be either primary or secondary, depending on how you use it!

Popular & Scholarly Sources

Popular sources are intended for a general audience.  Their purpose is to inform or entertain.

Scholarly sources disseminate research results and offer academic discussion among professionals and experts within disciplines.

Magazines are a specific type of popular source.  Journals are a particular type of scholarly source.


Group 1: Search Oxford Reference using the words "environmental art"

What are some of the features of the article found in the Grove Encyclopedia of American Art?

Group 2: Search Biography Reference Center for information about Robert Smithson.

What are some features of the article that might be helpful for your research?

Getting Started

Oxford Art Online 

A compilation of scholarly subject encyclopedias covering artists, movements, and genres. Note: Limit of three simultaneous users!


  • Environmental art
  • Land art
  • Richard Long

Oxford Reference Online

A compilation of handbooks, encyclopedias, and other reference sources. Useful for brief artist biographies, and subjects like land art.


  • Land art
  • Environmental art
  • Richard Serra

Gale Virtual Reference Library

Provides full text access to over 100 encyclopedias and other electronic reference sources from a variety of publishers.


  • "environmental art"
  • "landscape in the arts"
  • "environmental issues"