How To Conduct Research

Evaluate any website for currency, relevance, authority, accuracy, and purpose using this handy worksheet.
Search, select, and evaluate information sources.
Tutorials on finding and critically evaluating information sources.
Learn the differences between search engines and how to use them more effectively.
How to look at website to verify their value plus all things research-related.
Steps in the research process. Powerpoints are available for download in English and Spanish below.
Research guide from Duke University.
What are Primary Sources?
"Primary sources provide first-hand testimony or direct evidence concerning a topic under investigation. They are characterized by their content, regardless of their format." (Primary Sources at Yale)
  • Artifacts (coins, plant specimens, fossils, furniture, tools, clothing)
  • Audio recordings (radio programs, podcasts)
  • Internet communication on e-mails and listservs
  • Interviews (oral histories, telephone, e-mail)
  • Journal articles in peer-reviewed publications
  • Letters
  • Newspapers written at the time
  • Original documents (birth certificate, will, marriage license, trial transcript)
  • Patents
  • Photographs
  • Proceedings of meetings, conferences, symposia
  • Records of organizations, government agencies (annual report, treaty, constitution, govenment document)
  • Speeches (including transcripts)
  • Survey research (market surveys, public opinion polls)
  • Video recordings (television programs)
  • Works of art, architecture, literature, and music (paintings, sculptures, musical scores, buildings, novels, poems)
  • Website
Finding Primary Sources:
Teaching With Primary Sources:
What are Secondary Sources?
"...[Secondary sources] are accounts written after the fact with the benefit of hindsight. They are interpretations and evaluations of primary sources." (University of Maryland: "Research Using Primary Sources").
  • Bibliographies
  • Biographical works
  • Commentaries, criticisms
  • Dictionaries, encyclopedias
  • Histories
  • Journal articles (depending on the discipline can be primary)
  • Magazine and newspaper articles (this distinction varies by discipline)
  • Monographs, other than fiction and autobiography
  • Textbooks
  • Website (also considered primary)
What are Tertiary Sources?
"Tertiary sources consist of information which is a distillation of collection of primary and secondary sources." (Yale University: "Comparative Sources: Primary, Secondary & Tertiary Sources").
  • Almanacs
  • Bibliographies (also considered secondary)
  • Chronologies
  • Dictionaries and Encyclopedias (also considered secondary)
  • Directories
  • Fact books
  • Guidebooks
  • Indexes, abstracts, bibliographies used to locate primary and secondary sources
  • Manuals
  • Textbooks (also considered secondary)