Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.

SHSS First-Year Seminar (for Global Chinese Studies & Quantitative Social Analysis majors): Pre-session & Intro

This guide is developed in conjunction with a library workshopIn Order to help students in SHSS 1010 and SOSC 1210 to begin to think about information source type & select wht to use and when

Goals of this Library Guide

Pre-session work - Please watch this 2 min 53 sec video explaining the differences between primary & secondary sources

The  short-term goal of this guide is to supplement the face-to-face Library sessions:, so that you:

  • Will be able to distinguish between primary and  secondary sources in the humanities and social sciences

  • Begin to recognize which databases and collections contain what sort of information 

    • In order to choose the right database or collection to serach your different research needs:

  • The long-term goal of this guide is to help you become a reflective and critical user of humanities and social science sources
  •  Remember, information sources (including data) are never neutral!

Primary & Secondary Sources - Chart

Here is a useful chart about primary vs. secondary sources.

Creative Commons License  Primary & Secondary Sources by The Teaching & Learning Team of George Mason University Library is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Primary Sources

Primary resources (“First Hand”)

The original things you will study, examine, evaluate, or critique

  • Photos, Letters, Diaries
  • Accounts, ledgers, etc.
  • Newspapers & Magazines of a time and place, recording first hand accounts
  • Artwork (Plays, Films, Novels, & Poems)
  • Laws, Speeches, & Interviews
  • Oral histories
  • Documented observation (field notes, lab notes)
  • Data (census, vehicle registration, etc.) - although some consider any data not self-collected to be secondary data

Secondary Sources

Secondary Sources ("Second Hand")

Sources that are results of analyzing, synthesizing, explaining, or critiquing the original materials

  • Biographies
  • Book reviews, film review, art reviews in newspapers, magazines, websites, etc.
  • Literary, artistic and musical criticism in scholarly journals, websites, etc.
  • Topical books on the subject, scholarly monographs,  journal articles
  • Documentary films
  • Infographics that bring together different data sources

Helpful Books on Understanding & Using Primary & Secondary Sources

Helpful Books about Research Methods & Sources SHSS, especially data

© HKUST Library, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. All Rights Reserved.