Q. Can I use a secondary source in my dissertation?


If possible, it is best to read the original source, but the American Psychological Association (2010) manual provides the following guidance on using secondary sources: 

"Use secondary sources sparingly, for instance, when the original work is out of print, unavailable through usual sources, or not available in English.  Give the secondary source in the reference list; in text; name the original work and give a citation for the secondary source" (American Psychological Association, 2010, p. 178).


The APA manual gives this example:

"For example, if Allport’s work is cited in Nicholson and you did not read Allport’s work, list the Nicholson reference in the reference list. In the text use the following citation:

Allport’s diary (as cited in Nicholson, 2003)" (APA, 2010, p. 178).

For More Information

See "Alligators and Academia: The Importance of Primary and Secondary Sources" (Lee, 2013).


American Psychological Association. (2010). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). Washington, DC: Author.

Lee, C. (2013, January 10). Alligators and academia: the importance of primary and secondary sources [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://blog.apastyle.org/apastyle/2013/01/alligators-and-academia.html

  • Last Updated Jul 30, 2018
  • Views 169
  • Answered By Maureen Barney

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