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Source Types

This guide outlines and explains the different source types.

Primary Sources

Primary sources provide firsthand evidence about the people, events, situations, or historical settings that relate to the topic being researched. They are original works that were created during a particular period of time, provide insight into the time period, or present original ideas or thoughts.

Historical examples: 

  • artwork
  • diaries
  • films
  • government documents
  • letters
  • manuscripts
  • photographs

News Articles

News articles can be considered primary sources if they are reporting on events or providing coverage of occurrences that happened during that time in history. The journalist or writer who wrote the article would need to have been present at the event to experience it firsthand. 

Original Research

Original research (e.g., empirical scholarly works such as research articles, clinical reports, and case studies) is considered a primary source because it is written or compiled by the researchers who conducted the study. The researchers provide you with all of the information associated with their study firsthand, including the hypothesis, the research methods, the results, and the research implications.