Doing research using primary sources is a bit different from secondary source research. This type of inquiry can be challenging but allows you to conduct your own analysis of the evidence of a topic or event to draw your own theories and conclusions, rather than relying on interpretations provided. by others. Analyzing primary sources can also help you understand how complex and interconnected the events of the past can be, and help to develop your critical thinking and analysis skills.
The method you use, and the questions you ask, may differ from other researchers, based on the type of material and the topic in question, but will be related both to understanding the object itself, as well as the context in which it was created.
Some questions you might ask while analyzing primary sources are as follows, though this is not a comprehensive list:
For more questions, have a look at the Carleton College Department of HIstory guide on How to Analyze a Primary Source.
All sources must be considered critically, and any attitudes, understanding, experience, intentions, and prejudices of the creator should be taken into consideration.
There are a variety of tools available to assist you with organizing and evaluating the primary sources you have access for your research. the tool that is best for you will depend on the type of research, and the type of sources you are analyzing. Select the one that works best for you, or create your using the elements that work best from several tools.
Download the Ryerson University Library Material analysis sheet