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Primary Sources | Research by Subject | Library & Information Access | San Diego State University

Primary Sources

Questions to Ask of A Primary Source

• What type of document is it? Who created it and why?

• When was the document created? What physical details reveal this?

• What was/is the purpose of the document?

• What was the creator's situation or intention at the time of creation? What is the creator's relationship to the document? What evidence shows this?

• Are there inconsistencies or ambiguities in the document? Does it make an argument? If so, is it supported or warranted? What makes it reliable or unreliable?

• What does the document reveal about the period during which it was created?

• What research questions could this primary source answer?

• What else would you like to know about this document or its topic? How could you find the answers to those questions?

Posted: 2010-01-27