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Selecting and Using Sources for Research Assignments

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Evaluating a Source:
In the research process you will encounter many types of resources including books, articles and websites. But not everything you find on your topic will be suitable. How do you make sense of what is out there and evaluate its authority and appropriateness for your research?

Primary or Secondary Source?

Whether conducting research in the social sciences, humanities (especially history), arts, or natural sciences, the ability to distinguish between primary and secondary source material is essential. Basically, this distinction illustrates the degree to which the author of a piece is removed from the actual event being described, informing the reader as to whether the author is reporting impressions first hand (or is first to record these immediately following an event), or conveying the experiences and opinions of others—that is, second hand. You will use both types of sources for different purposes. Know the difference!

  • What are Primary Sources. From Yale University, CT. Defines what a primary source is, and provides in-depth discussion of multiple types of primary sources. Has links to Yale collection...most not accessible without Yale student proxy.

Using a Primary Source:

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