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Primary Sources

A guide to understanding and searching for primary sources

picture of a journal article

Journal articles that report first-hand observations of an event or that report discoveries, experiments, or the the results of studies are considered primary sources.

They often include sections with the following headings: Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion.




Photo credit: krosseel from

Journal Articles: Both Secondary and Primary Sources?

Journal articles that comment on or analyze primary sources are considered secondary sources of information. However, these articles may also contain some primary source material.

For example, a journal article analyzing the text of a literary work may include scanned images of the original text of the literary work or excerpts from the text. Or, an article about the history of political humour in the press may include images of political cartoons from various newspapers.

Selected Journal Article Databases

Journal databases are also available from the Library's Databases A-Z list.