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Primary Sources

A guide to primary sources in the Natural and Social Sciences

What are primary resources?

What is a Primary Source?

Primary sources are those sources that are closest to what is being studied. These may be items created at the time, such as research articles or later in the case of oral histories and memoirs.

What is a Primary Source in the natural sciences?

Primary sources in the natural sciences may include conference papers, data archives, laboratory notebooks, research articles, and statistical publications, among others. At the undergraduate level, your experience may focus on primary research articles. Primary research articles in the natural sciences report the results of original research. They include a methods (or methodology) and results section. They may also include a discussion section or notes on future research directions.

For more on primary sources in general, visit one of the web sites below.

General tips for finding and using primary sources

Citing Primary Sources

Whenever you use material from any source in your writing, you ought to cite it. That is, tell your readers where you found your quote, data, etc in a structured way. Here are some resources to help you cite the material you use in your research. 

Research Guide Credit

Many thanks to Temporary Reference Librarian Daniel Cornwall for creating the original content for this research guide. 

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