Answered By: Kristie Jones (Brisbane)
Last Updated: 01 Nov 2017     Views: 977

The concept of primary sources can be different depending on the requirements of your assignment/task. Generally, when lecturers ask you to use primary sources, they mean:

Going to the original source

If you are consulting a work by John Doe who is quoting from Bernard Jensen and you wish to use the quote/idea from Bernard Jensen, it is best to find and use the original work by Bernard Jensen, which, in this case would be the primary source.

Using classic texts

Each modality has its “classic” authors who were original proponents of the discipline. Examples of classic resources which are primary sources could include works by Samuel Hahnemann, Nicholas Culpeper, and the Mawangdui Medical Manuscripts.

Original publications of research studies eg. clinical trials

Researchers who have conducted clinical trials will publish their results in journals, and this article can then be considered a primary source. Original publications of other types of studies may also be considered primary sources eg. case studies and cohort studies.

Primary sources can come in many formats, including books, manuscripts, pictorial works and journal articles. Most sources will have content from both primary and secondary sources. For example, a journal article which compares and contrasts the findings of several researchers may be considered a secondary source as it is quoting from primary sources. However, the insights and conclusions made by the author of the journal article, could be considered primary source information as it originates with this author.

As this is a topic with varying interpretations, you are encouraged to consult with your lecturers about their expectations and interpretations of what constitutes a primary source.

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