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SSI2-127: Hip-Hop Philosophy: Primary Sources

Primary sources

Primary Sources

Primary sources are the raw materials of research. They provide firsthand access to words, images, or objects created directly by the persons involved in the activity or event. The value of primary sources is that they allow the researcher to get as close as possible to the original work. It is important to note that the types of information that can be considered primary sources may vary depending on the subject discipline, and also on how you are using the material. Time is also a defining element.

Examples include:

  • Eyewitness reports (photographs, interviews, newspaper articles)
  • Memoirs, diaries, oral histories, correspondence
  • Literary work (novels, plays, poems)
  • Creative works such as feature films, musical works, dances, play performances
  • Artwork
  • Clinical trials
  • Testimony (such as Congressional hearings)
  • Documentary films (when comprised entirely of first-person narratives OR if being used to study filmmaking techniques)
  • Data, statistics, census reports
  • Speeches
  • Social Media: Tweets, texts, status updates, original blogs

Primary sources often enable the researcher to experience the flavor of the original event or information, rather than relying upon someone else’s interpretation. Keep in mind that primary sources, because of their first-hand nature, may not be completely well-reasoned, objective, or accurate. 

Questions to Ask When Determining If Something Is a Primary Source:

  • Did the author conduct original research on the topic?
  • Is the information the result of a survey?
  • Is the information uninterpreted data or statistics?
  • Is the source an original document or a creative work?
  • Did the information come from personal experience?