Official State of Iowa Website

Resource Types in Legal Research

When you are doing research, you may need to look for a wide variety of resources. In legal research, those resources generally fall into two categories: primary authority and secondary authority

While it may sound complicated, the basic breakdown is that primary authority is the law, while secondary authority explains or collects the law. An example of primary authority is a section from the Iowa Code. An example of secondary authority is the People’s Law Library page Enforcing Custody and Visitation Orders.

Find out more about primary authority from our pages on statutes, regulations, local ordinances, case law, and court rules. Find out more about secondary authority from our pages on books, journal articles, and forms.