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Research Guides

Locating & Accessing Primary Documents: Home

Find and Access primary resources from U.S. Government websites, Bush Library Databases and HamCAT.

Primary Documents

The Importance and Value of Primary Resources

With certain assignments, your professor may require you to locate several primary documents to help support your thesis. Incorporating primary documents in a research paper will bring greater credibility and evidence to support your thesis statement. Primary documents can add more interest to your paper while grabbing your reader's or listener's attention.

This Research Guide is designed to help you determine how to locate primary documents that can be used to emphasize or to prove a hypothesis.  When you are doing research, you will probably be using a variety of data resources, both primary and secondary.

The Sage Encyclopedia of Qualitative Research Methods, describes the difference...

Primary data documents (PDDs) include transcriptions of interviews; participant observation fieldnotes; photographs of field situations taken by the researcher as records of specific activities, rituals, and personas (with associated locational and descriptive data); and maps and diagrams drawn by the researcher or by field assistants or participants in a study (with accompanying explanations).

Secondary data documents (SDDs) are materials that are important in describing the historical background and current situation in a community or country where the research is being conducted. They include maps, demographic data, measures of disparity in health or educational status (records of differences in types of surgery, disease distribution, graduation rates, etc.), and de-identified quantitative databases that include variables of interest to the researcher.