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HIST 101 - (History of the United States to 1877)

Use this guide to explore various topics in American History from the beginnings to 1877

Primary & Secondary Information

For research projects you will be using two basic types of information: Primary and Secondary. Your instructor will usually tell you what types of information he or she expects you to use for your research.What's the difference between these types?

Primary (Think of this as Firsthand):

Primary information is comprised of original materials that were created first hand. This type of information is from the time period involved and has not been filtered through interpretation. Examples are:

  • Original Research (reported in journals & dissertations)
  • Diaries
  • Interviews (legal proceedings, personal, telephone, email)
  • Letters
  • Original Documents (i.e. birth certificate or a trial transcript)
  • Patents
  • Photographs
  • Proceedings of Meetings, Conferences and Symposia
  • Survey Research (such as market surveys and public opinion polls)
  • Works of Literature

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secondary sourcesSecondary (Think of this as Second Hand):

Secondary information is made up of accounts written after the fact with the benefit of hindsight. Therefore, secondary information interprets and evaluates primary information. Examples are:

  • Biographies
  • Books
  • Commentaries
  • Dissertations
  • Indexes, Abstracts, Bibliographies (used to locate primary & secondary sources)
  • Journal Articles

Use the CRAAP Test for Credibility

Finding information today is easy; it's all around you. Making sure the information you find is reliable can be a challenge.

When you use Google or any social media to get your information how do you know it can be trusted? How do you know it's not biased?

You can feel pretty confident that books you get from the library and articles you find in the library's databases are reliable because someone or some group has checked all the facts and arguments the author made before publishing them. You still have to think about whether or not the book or article is current and suitable for your project but you can feel confident that it is a trustworthy source.

Make sure each and every source you plan on using in your paper or research assignment passes the CRAAP test.

 

Evaluate your sources: The CRAAP Test

Watch the brief video below to see how this works.