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    primary source


    • 1. (in academic research) a document, first-hand account, or other source that constitutes direct evidence of an object of study: "the archive allows researchers unprecedented access to primary sources about the development of Irish language policy over the past century"
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  3. Sep 11, 2001 · A primary source is an original object or document-- the raw material or first-hand information, source material that is closest to what is being studied.. Primary sources vary by discipline and can include historical and legal documents, eye witness accounts, results of an experiment, statistical data, pieces of creative writing, and art objects.

    • Michael Hooper
    • 2012
  4. Some secondary sources may also be considered primary or tertiary sources - the definition of this term is not set in stone. Tertiary sources are further developments of secondary sources, often summaries of information found in primary and secondary sources and collecting many sources together.

    • Alan Delozier
    • 2012
  5. Aug 03, 2021 · Primary sources vary by discipline. In history, primary sources are original records that provide firsthand evidence to understand a historical event or period. In literature, primary sources are the original texts (e.g., novels, short stories, plays, etc.). In the arts, primary sources are original works of art or music.

    • Rebecca Payne
    • 2010
  6. Define primary source. primary source synonyms, primary source pronunciation, primary source translation, English dictionary definition of primary source. A direct source of information or research, a document not emended by a third party.

    • Characteristics of Primary Sources
    • When to Use Primary Sources
    • When to Use Secondary Sources
    • Finding and Accessing Primary Sources
    • Sources

    There are a couple of factors that can qualify an artifact as a primary source. The chief characteristics of a primary source, according to Natalie Sproull, are: "(1) [B]eing present during the experience, event or time and (2) consequently being close in time with the data. This does not mean that data from primary sources are always the best data." Sproull then goes on to remind readers that primary sources are not alwaysmore reliable than secondary sources. "Data from human sources are subject to many types of distortion because of such factors as selective recall, selective perceptions, and purposeful or nonpurposeful omission or addition of information. Thus data from primary sources are not necessarily accurate data even though they come from firsthand sources," (Sproull 1988).

    Primary sources tend to be most useful toward the beginning of your research into a topic and at the end of a claim as evidence, as Wayne Booth et al. explain in the following passage. "[Primary sources] provide the 'raw data' that you use first to test the working hypothesis and then as evidence to support your claim. In history, for example, primary sources include documents from the period or person you are studying, objects, maps, even clothing; in literature or philosophy, your main primary source is usually the text you are studying, and your data are the words on the page. In such fields, you can rarely write a research paper without using primary sources," (Booth et al. 2008).

    There is certainly a time and place for secondary sources and many situations in which these point to relevant primary sources. Secondary sources are an excellent place to start. Alison Hoagland and Gray Fitzsimmons write: "By identifying basic facts, such as year of construction, secondary sources can point the researcher to the bestprimary sources, such as the right tax books. In addition, a careful reading of the bibliographyin a secondary source can reveal important sources the researcher might otherwise have missed," (Hoagland and Fitzsimmons 2004).

    As you might expect, primary sources can prove difficult to find. To find the best ones, take advantage of resources such as libraries and historical societies. "This one is entirely dependent on the assignment given and your local resources; but when included, always emphasize quality. ... Keep in mind that there are many institutions such as the Library of Congress that make primary source material freely available on the Web," (Kitchens 2012).

    Booth, Wayne C., et al. The Craft of Research. 3rd ed., University of Chicago Press, 2008.
    Hoagland, Alison, and Gray Fitzsimmons. "History." Recording Historic Structures.2nd. ed., John Wiley & Sons, 2004.
    Kitchens, Joel D. Librarians, Historians, and New Opportunities for Discourse: A Guide for Clio's Helpers. ABC-CLIO, 2012.
    Monaghan, E. Jennifer, and Douglas K. Hartman. "Undertaking Historical Research in Literacy." Handbook of Reading Research.Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2002.
    • Richard Nordquist
    • English And Rhetoric Professor
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