Conceptualize: What are primary sources?

Some questions students will learn to answer

  • How do I know if a source is a “primary” source?
  • What is the difference between a primary and a secondary source?
  • How do I know if I need a primary source for my research question?
  • Can anything be a primary source?

Learning objectives this module will address

  • Distinguish primary from secondary sources for a given research question.
  • Articulate what might serve as a primary source for a given project.
  • Draw on primary sources to generate and refine research questions.
  • Understand that research is an iterative process and that as new sources are found and analyzed the questions may change.

Sample exercises that may be used in this module

  • Concept, Data, Sources exercise. Map possible sources to your paper outline.
  • What’s in your wallet? Document exploration. Examine how your everyday life creates primary source documents.
  • Working backward: Citation analysis practice. Explore how researchers document their sources in books and articles.
  • What is primary? The primary sources continuum. Examine the role of primary, secondary, and tertiary sources.