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Instructors will sometimes ask you to use primary sources of information for your research paper as well as some secondary resources.
What's the difference?
A primary source is a document or physical object which was written or created during the time of the subject being researched. These sources were present during an experience or time period and offer an inside view of a particular event.
Some types of primary sources include:
Original documents (excerpts or translations acceptable): Diaries, speeches, manuscripts, letters, interviews, news film footage, autobiographies, official records
Creative Works: Poetry, drama, novels, music, art
Relics or Artifacts: Pottery, furniture, clothing, buildings
Examples of primary sources include:
Diary of Anne Frank - Experiences of a Jewish family during WWII
Declaration of Independence - U.S. History
A journal article reporting new research or findings
Plato's Republic - Women in Ancient Greece
A secondary source interprets and analyzes primary sources. These sources are one or more steps removed from the event. Secondary sources may have pictures, quotes or graphics of primary sources in them.
Some types of secondary sources include:
Examples of secondary sources include:
A journal/magazine article which interprets or reviews previous findings
A history textbook
A book about the effects of WWI
Sources Cited in This Guide
“Primary Vs Secondary Sources.” New Jersey’s Science and Technology University. New Jersey Institute of Technology. n.d. Web. 7 Aug. 2012.
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