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A Writer's Handbook

Primary Sources

Primary Sources

Why are you using sources?  Primary and secondary sources give your paper validity and specific evidence of your own thoughts. 

For more information, access the “Introduction to Information Literacy” link on the JSCC Libraries website.

Primary Sources will be used to help illustrate your points by examining the primary documents on the issue or the primary work of literature, history, art, etc.

  • For the example above, I might use the retention data from a college to illustrate how many students leave college after their first semester.
  • For a literary example, I might use the description straight from the book of the setting of Kansas before Dorothy is blown away in the tornado to illustrate the drabness of her life before Oz.
  • For a historical example, I might use a copy of the 19th Amendment to illustrate rights given to women.

Exercise 13: Primary Sources

Exercise 13:  What are the primary sources, and what would you do with those sources for the following ideas?  For further exercise, you might find these primary sources and discuss their relevance:

  1. Actor review of Jennifer Lawrence from The Hunger Games
  2. Edgar Allan Poe’s use of gothic atmosphere
  3. The Mona Lisa’s line structure
  4. An advertisement’s use of emotion to persuade buyers
  5. A company’s need for change in employee dress code
  6. Discussion of fairness of immigration law
  7. Implementing a maternity leave policy for a company that currently has no policy
  8. Discussion of a character’s monstrous qualities in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Secondary Sources

Secondary sources will be used to support your perspective on the primary sources.

  • For the college retention example, I might use the book shown in the example, or an article commenting on the effectiveness of what some schools are doing in their advising or instructional procedures
  • For the Wizard of Oz literary example, I might use literary criticism discussing the use of a change in setting from Kansas to Oz and what those settings might represent
  • For the historical example on the19th amendment, I might use a historical critic or news articles discussing the consequences of the given rights

Exercise 14: Secondary Sources

Exercise 14:  What are some optional secondary sources, and what would you do with those sources for the following ideas?  For further exercise, you might find some of these secondary sources and discuss their relevance:

  1. Actor review of Jennifer Lawrence from The Hunger Games
  2. Edgar Allan Poe’s use of gothic atmosphere
  3. The Mona Lisa’s line structure
  4. An advertisement’s use of emotion to persuade buyers
  5. A company’s need for change in employee dress code
  6. Discussion of fairness of immigration law
  7. Implementing a maternity leave policy for a company that currently has no policy
  8. Discussion of a character’s monstrous qualities in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde