A primary source is a document or record which contains first-hand information or original data on a topic. Primary sources are often created at the time of an event, but can also be recorded at a later time (e.g. memoirs or interviews). Primary sources provide insights into how people view their world at a particular time.
It is important to evaluate primary sources for accuracy, authenticity, bias and usefulness.
Remember that primary sources are often reproduced in book format - but that they are still considered to be a primary source.
Source: Reitz, JM 2004, Online dictionary for library and information science, Libraries Unlimited, Westport, Conn.
These are a few examples of primary sources from the colletion. There are many more!
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The use of a source in its correct context is what determines its designation as a primary or secondary source.
Occasionally a source or document may serve as a secondary source for one subject and as a primary source for another altogether different subject.
Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince, published in 1513, is an important secondary source for any study of the various Renaissance princes in the Medici family; but the same book is also a primary source for the political thought that was characteristic of the sixteenth century because it reflects the attitudes of a person living in the 1500s.
Source: Craver, KW 1999, Using Internet Primary Sources to Teach Critical Thinking Skills in History, Greenwood Publishing Group, Incorporated, Westport.
Any published or unpublished work that is one step removed from the original source (or event under review). A secondary source usually describes, summarises, analyses, evaluates, interprets or reviews primary source materials.
Remember that authors of secondary sources may use primary source material to persuade readers to support their arguments about an event and its meaning.
These are a few examples of secondary sources from the colletion. There are many more!
A written work, based entirely on secondary sources, rather than on original research involving primary documents. Whether a source is secondary or tertiary can be determined by examining the bibliography (if one is provided). Another clue is that secondary sources are almost always written by experts, but tertiary sources may be written by staff writers who have an interest in the topic but are not scholars on the subject.
It is important to evaluate primary, secondary and tertiary sources for accuracy, bias and usefulness. All works should be viewed through the eyes of the creator.
Considering the following questions will help determine the authenticity of the source, as well as any bias present: