A Primary Source is an original source pertaining to an event or topic. Many primary sources have been digitized and are available through library databases and on the Internet.
Examples of Primary Sources include:
Is my instructor trying to make my research more difficult?
Student ask why instructors require primary sources in their research. The Library of Congress provides a good summary for the use of primary sources.
Primary sources provide a window into the past—unfiltered access to the record of artistic, social, scientific and political thought and achievement during the specific period under study, produced by people who lived during that period.
Working with primary sources can give the researcher a real sense of what it was like during the time of the author. Primary sources also:
Source: Retrieved from the Library of Congress, http://www.loc.gov/teachers/usingprimarysources/whyuse.html
Examples of Primary and Secondary Sources
Note: Your textbook is not a primary source.
A Secondary Source provides commentary, discussion, or analysis about a primary source.
Examples of Secondary Sources include:
Secondary Sources can sometimes be sources of primary source data! To learn more about how these sources can be used as Primary Sources, watch the video below titled Primary and Secondary Sources.
The video below can help you understand how primary and secondary sources are used, and how to identify the differences between them.
Primary and Secondary Sources [transcript] is available above the video.
Primary resources and primary data are two separate pieces. If you are an undergraduate student, you most likely need to focus on finding primary resources. If you are a master's or doctoral student, you need to understand both what primary resources are AND what primary and secondary data are.
Data collected and used by the researcher.
Data gathered by one party, but used by a different party.