Primary sources are original first-hand materials, such as eye-witness or direct experience accounts, containing factual accounts of an event, created close to the time of the event occurrence.
|Audio recordings: radio programs & podcasts||Autobiographies and memoirs|
|Books, short stories, poems, manuscripts||Census statistics|
|Data sets, technical reports, experimental research results||Diaries, personal letters, correspondence|
|Government documents: bills, reports, hearings, patents, etc.||Internet communications: email & listservs;|
|Interviews (eg. oral histories, phone, e-mail), survey research, fieldwork||Newspaper articles, televison programs or film footage reporting from the time an event occurred|
|Original documents: marriage certificate, wills, birth certificate||Scholarly, peer-reviewed journal article reporting new research or findings|
|Technical reports, proceedings of meetings, conferences, and symposia||Works of art, music, architecture, photographs & maps|
NOTE: Web sites can be considered to be Primary or Secondary sources, depending on the context.
There are a number of clues to identify primary research articles. Review the abstract as it is often indicated that an original study or event formed the basis of the article. Often the author(s) introduces the study with one of the following examples:
Something is not a primary source simply because it is old.
Sometimes a source could be considered primary or secondary and could be used either way, depending upon the discipline or context. Consult your instructor if you are unsure if an item counts as primary.
Example: The 2009 book: Raymond Carver: A writer's life", by Carol Sklenicka is a secondary source, if you are researching Raymond Carver's life. If you are researching Carol Sklenicka's literary style, the book is a primary source.
To evaluate primary sources, consider the following issues: