Information types & formats 2: sources classified by closeness

From the first post:
There are three basic ways to divide information sources for academic purposes.  These are:
  1. sources classified by audience
  2. sources classified by closeness
  3. sources classified by quality measure

These divisions refer to non-fiction (with a few exceptions.)

Sources classified by closeness
The second way to classify academic sources is by closeness.  Closeness to what?  Closeness to the original event, original time period, original research, or original idea.
The two main types of sources classified by closeness are:
  1. primary
  2. secondary

This classification usually refers to non-fiction, but does occasionally include fiction (for example:  using a Greek play as a primary source for a history article.)

Primary sources are those that are closest to an original event,  original time, original research or original idea.

Examples:

  • An eyewitness account in print, audio or video, including oral histories.
  • An original document such as letters, contracts, deeds, and even an early graphic novel written in Greek about the labors of Hercules.
  • A YouTube or news video shot by someone who was there (or by security cameras, CCTV, etc.)
  • Memoirs and autobiographies
  • A report on research written by the people who did the research, usually published as a journal article, but sometimes published as a monograph.
  • A news or documentary photograph
  • An object, such as a mummy (from the Louvre Museum, Paris), a painting, or an old car

Primary sources can be popular, scholarly or trade, but in history, they are often popular.

Adapted primary sources

Adaptations of primary sources include photographs and  reproductions of original objects, and translations from an original language.  Adapted primary sources provide access to primary sources such as paintings, mummies, manuscripts, statues, Greek inscriptions, and buildings that are inaccessible for a variety of reasons.

Adaptations usually count as a primary source, but check with your professor to be sure.
HOWEVER:  you must use adapted sources  produced by reputable groups such as museums, universities, respected publishers and so on.   For most undergraduate research, you can use Wikipedia, Wikimedia Commons,  and Flickr Creative Commons for images IF the image includes source information and shows copyright information.

Examples of adapted sources:

It’s still best to look at the original source if you can, because:
  • when you adapt or reproduce something, you change it
  • you can’t tell what the original is made of  or how it was made
  • in the case of photographs and 3-D objects, you can only see one side

Virtual reality techniques provide 3-D views, but still don’t capture information such as texture, ink composition, material, and rarely show pen marks, chisel marks, etc.

When using translations, either use critical editions or choose reputable publishers such as university presses and other academic publishers.  (In critical editions, the translator tells you why s/he made the choices s/he did in when translating the text.)
Secondary sources are further away from the original event,  time, research or idea.  They may be::

Primary & secondary works can be popular or scholarly or trade.

Examples:

Leave a comment

Filed under Information Types & Formats

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s