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COMM_ST_102: Public Speaking (Lee): Find Articles

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Primary and Secondary Sources

What is a primary source?

Primary sources provide the raw data you use to support your arguments. Some common types of primary resources include manuscripts, diaries, court cases, maps, data sets, experiment results, news stories, polls, or original research.  In many cases what makes a primary resource is contextual.  For example, a biography about Abraham Lincoln is a secondary resource about Lincoln. However, if examined as a piece of evidence about the nature of biographical writing, or as an example of the biographer's writing method it becomes a primary resource.

What is a secondary source?

Secondary sources analyze primary sources, using primary source materials to answer research questions.  Secondary sources may analyze, criticize, interpret or summarize data from primary sources. The most common secondary resources are books, journal articles, or reviews of the literature. Secondary sources may also be primary sources. For example if someone studies the nature of literary criticism in the 19th century then a literary critque from the 19th century becomes a primary resource.

Multidisciplinary Databases

Newspaper Databases

Databases for other subject areas


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Lauren McKeen McDonald
Open Education Librarian
Northwestern University Libraries
Administrative Suite, 1392