Primary Sources

Primary sources are original materials produced or created during an event or experience.

Some examples include:

  • Newspapers
  • Diaries
  • Speeches
  • Letters
  • Photographs
  • Journal entries
  • Census records and government documents
  • Physical objects such as pottery

Archival & Special Collections

Check our Archival & Special Collections for primary sources.

Primary research

  • Primary research is research that is published based on original observations, surveys, interviews, and experimentation. Normally, this research is written in a style dependent on the discipline or journal, then sent for review to a peer-reviewed (scholarly or academic) journal
  • The article is critiqued, edited, and often, published by authorities. The basic aim of primary research is to learn something new that can be replicated and validated by experts in a field of study
  • Researchers will often use secondary research to support their primary research in their final publications using sources such as books, journal reviews, government data, professional advice, standards, and protocols

See the library's Primary Source Guide for more information.

Primary research vs secondary research in the sciences

Primary and secondary sources can be hard to differentiate when you first start researching in the sciences.
We've put together a helpful guide to help you find primary, secondary, and tertiary sources in the sciences.