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Library Research Guides
Trinity College
Library & Information Technology Services

RHET-103 College Writing

Fall 2023

Your Research Librarian

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Jeff Liszka
Library Level A
Room A37

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Getting started with research topics

Getting Started with Topics by RIT Communications

Primary vs. Secondary Sources

  • Primary sources are produced by participants in a specific event or time period, or witnesses to an event or period in history.  The event or experience may have happened centuries ago or seconds ago. Examples are letters, diaries, official government records, physical or digital artifacts, contemporary newspaper articles, interviews, original photographs, memoirs and autobiographies

  • Secondary sources are typically books and articles written about a topic, by a non-participant in an historical event or time period. Authors of these works utilize evidence to formulate a thesis and develop a conclusion based on this evidence, which often are primary sources

Searching TIP: Many primary sources can be found within the bibliographies and notes in secondary sources.

If you are unsure about a source, check with your professor or a research librarian to determine whether it can be considered primary or secondary.