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Primary and Secondary Sources What is a primary source? A primary source is original material that is not derived from another work; it is first hand material. A secondary source is a derived work that interprets primary sources in some way; it is second hand material. The image to the left is an example from an old advertisement from a citrus crate. Other examples of primary sources are: letters i.e. correspondence from one person to another, the manuscript of a novel (published or un published), a newspaper account of a historical event around the time that it occurred, a photograph a journal or diary a speech or interview artwork adve rtising a scientific report or case study, etc. Research using primary sources is much like assembling a puzzle, except that the pieces are not necessarily all in the same box, or even in one collection! Even when all the pieces are collected, they still need to be interpreted and synthesized into an argument. Used as building blocks, primary sources can be used to answer a wide variety of res earch questions. Where can I find primary sources here at UF? Depending on your subject area, you can also find primary sources in any of the libraries on campus in the Libraries' online Digital Collections Special Collections Department which has many primary source materials available. Registration and reference forms for Special Collections can be foun d here Email research requests for specific questions to Special Collections or call (352) 273 2755. More about Primary Sources Although many prima ry sources are old a document does not have to be old and brittle to be a primary source. For instance, an email is a primary source, but an email forwarded from a third party is a secondary source. A primary source in one subject may be a secondary source in another. A secondary resource like a textbook, a journal article or biographical work might contain historical facts or original research from another author that were interpreted by the author i n a certain way, in order to further a particular argument. This is particularly true for

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materials in certain subjects, like history, anthropology and other social sciences. For the most part, secondary sources are derived works that interpret primary sou rces in some way. Remember that a primary source for one discipline many not qualify as one in another subject. For example, an article in a scientific journal would be a primary source because it presents original data and research, but an article in a h istorical journal would not, since it is based on the conclusions or interpretation of the author. Additional Information Lyons, Kenneth. (2001 2005). How to Distinguish between Primary and Secondary Sources Santa Cruz: University Library, University of California Santa Cruz. Retrieved 12 June 2007 from the World Wide Web: http://library.ucsc.edu/ref/howto/primarysecondary.html Whitson, B. and Phillips, M. (1998 2007). Library Research Using Primary Sources Berkeley: Library, University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved 12 June 2007 from the World Wide Web: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/TeachingLi b/Guides/PrimarySources.html


Primary and secondary sources
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00076095/00001
 Material Information
Title: Primary and secondary sources
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Creator: Turcotte, Florence
Publisher: George A. Smathers Libraries
Publication Date: 2007
 Subjects
Subjects / Keywords: University of Florida.   ( lcsh )
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida -- Gainesville
 Record Information
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved, Board of Trustees of the University of Florida
System ID: UF00076095:00001

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Full Text
Primary and Secondary Sources
What is a primary source?

A primary source is original material that is not derived from another work; it is first-hand material.

A secondary source is a derived work that interprets primary sources in some way; it is second-hand material.
The image to the left is an example from an old advertisement from a citrus crate. Other examples of primary sources are: letters, i.e. correspondence from one person to another, the manuscript of a novel (published or un-published), a newspaper account of a historical event around the time that it occurred, a photograph, a journal or diary, a speech or interview, artwork, advertising, a scientific report or case study, etc.

Research using primary sources is much like assembling a puzzle, except that the pieces are not necessarily all in the same box, or even in one collection! Even when all the pieces are collected, they still need to be interpreted and synthesized into an argument. Used as building blocks, primary sources can be used to answer a wide variety of research questions.

Where can I find primary sources here at UF?

Depending on your subject area, you can also find primary sources in any of the libraries on campus, in the Libraries' online Digital Collections, and in the Libraries Special Collections Department, which has many primary source materials available. Registration and reference forms for Special Collections can be found here. Email research requests for specific questions to Special Collections or call (352) 273-2755.


More about Primary Sources

Although many primary sources are old, a document does not have to be old and brittle to be a primary source. For instance, an email is a primary source, but an email forwarded from a third party is a secondary source.

A primary source in one subject may be a secondary source in another. A secondary resource like a textbook, a journal article or biographical work might contain historical facts or original research from another author that were interpreted by the author in a certain way, in order to further a particular argument. This is particularly true for materials in certain subjects, like history, anthropology and other social sciences. For the most part, secondary sources are derived works that interpret primary sources in some way.

Remember that a primary source for one discipline many not qualify as one in another subject. For example, an article in a scientific journal would be a primary source because it presents original data and research, but an article in a historical journal would not, since it is based on the conclusions or interpretation of the author.

Additional Information

Lyons, Kenneth. (2001-2005). How to Distinguish between Primary and Secondary Sources. Santa Cruz: University Library, University of California Santa Cruz. Retrieved 12 June 2007 from the World Wide Web: http://library.ucsc.edu/ref/howto/primarysecondary.html

Whitson, B. and Phillips, M. (1998-2007). Library Research Using Primary Sources. Berkeley: Library, University of California, Berkeley. Retrieved 12 June 2007 from the World Wide Web: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/TeachingLib/Guides/PrimarySources.html