The best way to meet the requirements of an essay or research paper is to know what type of sources are needed, which means knowing the difference between primary and secondary sources. Primary sources means that it is original article or book created by an individual or sometimes a group of people. What types of primary sources are available? It might be surprising to know that a novel is a primary source. Other types of primary sources are paintings created by the artist.
If it were a photocopy of the painting, then it would be a secondary source. Some other primary sources are letters, films, short stories, plays, poems, photographs, court cases, journal articles, newspaper events, and speeches. For instance, a speech by President Bush would be a primary source. In simple terms primary sources come firsthand from the source or person. Diaries would be a primary source because it is written directly by the individual writing in the diary.
Primary sources are usually firsthand information about something such as diaries, court records, interviews, research studies about experiments, and information that has been stated but not interpreted by others. Reliability: What can the source tell you about the past? How useful is it for understanding the past? How trustworthy is the source? Does it exclude, downplay, or ignore evidence or issues that you can verify through other sources? What is the author leaving out?
Authenticity: Are there reasons to doubt the authorship of the document? Was the document possibly a forgery? Has it been altered in any way? If it is a transcription of someone else's words, who was the scribe? What role might the scribe have played in shaping the document's tone or content? Influence: How important or influential was the source in its own day and age? By what standards can one measure a document's significance?
Was it widely disseminated and read e. Was it more personal e. Did the document's publication have anticipated and unanticipated consequences? Relationship to Other Course Themes: How does the document relate to the course's main themes?
What kinds of connections can you draw to other primary or secondary sources and the lectures? Always follow your professor's specific guidelines before the general suggestions in this handout.
Then have the assignment's goals in mind as you familiarize yourself with the sources, develop a thesis, outline your main points, and write the essay. Develop a strong thesis statement. Give some thought to your thesis before taking notes and outlining, lest you end up with pages and pages of pointless evidence.
Ask yourself, "What is the main question that I am trying to answer in this paper? You may, however, have permission to focus on a particular theme or topic in the document s. Films, videos, TV programs, and digital recordings can be primary sources. Documentaries, feature films, and TV news broadcasts can provide insights into the fantasies, biases, political attitudes, and material culture of the times in which they were created. Radio broadcast recordings, oral histories, and the recorded music of a particular era can also serve as primary source material.
Archival Material Manuscripts and archives are primary sources, including business and personal correspondence, diaries and journals, legal and financial documents, photographs, maps, architectural drawings, objects, oral histories, computer tapes, and video and audio cassettes.
Some archival materials are published and available in print or online. Government Documents Government documents provide evidence of activities, functions, and policies at all government levels.
For research that relates to the workings of government, government documents are primary sources. These documents include hearings and debates of legislative bodies; the official text of laws, regulations and treaties; records of government expenditures and finances; and statistical compilations of economic, demographic, and scientific data.
Tertiary Sources Tertiary sources contain information that has been compiled from primary and secondary sources. Tertiary sources include almanacs, chronologies, dictionaries and encyclopedias, directories, guidebooks, indexes, abstracts, manuals, and textbooks. Examples Information Literacy - Primary vs.
Reviewing primary source material can be of value in improving your overall research paper because they: Are original materials, Were created from the time period involved, Have not been filtered through interpretation or evaluation by others, and Represent original thinking or experiences, reporting of a discovery, or the sharing of new information. These documents include hearings and debates of legislative bodies; the official text of laws, regulations and treaties; records of government expenditures and finances; and statistical compilations of economic, demographic, and scientific data. Datasets, survey data, such as census or economic statistics. Examples of a primary source are: Original documents such as diaries, speeches, manuscripts, letters, interviews, records, eyewitness accounts, autobiographies Empirical scholarly works such as research articles, clinical reports, case studies, dissertations Creative works such as poetry, music, video, photography How to locate primary research in NCU Library: From the Library's homepage, begin your search in Roadrunner Search or select a subject-specific database from the A-Z Databases. What motives did he or she have in putting pen to paper? Many secondary sources are used to argue someone's thesis or main points about a topic.
Help Primary Sources Primary Sources are immediate, first-hand accounts of a topic, from people who had a direct connection with it.
For instance, a secondary source would use debates between the presidential candidates in their magazine article and show how one president feels about a topic the writer is discussing.
If this letter was written during World War II and analyzed by another person then it would be a secondary source.
How useful is it for understanding the past? Examples of Secondary Sources.
Primary sources are usually firsthand information about something such as diaries, court records, interviews, research studies about experiments, and information that has been stated but not interpreted by others. How does the genre shape the author's writing? Then re-read the document s for context. This quiz will test how well you understand the difference between primary and secondary sources. Block quotes are single spaced, indented, and do not need the telltale quotation marks ". Primary Sources are directly taken from an individual or group of individuals, while secondary sources take information from an individual or group and analyzes the topic.