What is a primary source in a research paper

Primary Sources


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  • Primary sources provide the original materials on which other research is based and enable students and other researchers to get as close as possible to what actually happened during a particular event or time period. Published materials can be viewed as primary resources if they come from the time period that is being discussed, and were written or produced by someone with firsthand experience of the event.

    Finding online sources for your research paper

    Often primary sources reflect the individual viewpoint of a participant or observer. Primary sources can be written or non-written sound, pictures, artifacts, etc. In scientific research, primary sources present original thinking, report on discoveries, or share new information.


    Words to look for as clues include: analysis, study, investigation, examination, experiment, numbers of people or objects analyzed, content analysis, or surveys. Was the author trying to silence another audience? Their bibliographies, however, can be used to identify primary sources. Jieun Kang. What are primary sources? You may, however, have permission to focus on a particular theme or topic in the document s. A primary source is the first place research appears.

    Secondary sources describe, discuss, interpret, comment upon, analyze, evaluate, summarize, and process primary sources. A secondary source is generally one or more steps removed from the event or time period and are written or produced after the fact with the benefit of hindsight. Secondary sources often lack the freshness and immediacy of the original material.

    On occasion, secondary sources will collect, organize, and repackage primary source information to increase usability and speed of delivery, such as an online encyclopedia. Thus, readers of primary scholarly research should have foundational knowledge of the subject area. Use primary resources to obtain a first-hand account to an actual event and identify original research done in a field.

    For many of your papers, use of primary resources will be a requirement.

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    • Identifying Primary and Secondary Resources;
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    Secondary sources describe, summarize, or discuss information or details originally presented in another source; meaning the author, in most cases, did not participate in the event. Refrain from including such resources in an annotated bibliography for doctoral level work unless there is a good reason. This workshop introduces to the beginning stages of the research process, focusing on identifying different types of information, as well as gathering background information through electronic books.

    Research Process These pages offer an introduction to the research process at a very general level.