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ENGWRT 1750: Senior Seminar in Nonfiction

This guide is designed to help students in professor Jennifer Lee's spring 2017 Senior Seminar in Nonfiction.

Welcome to the Senior Seminar Nonfiction Guide

 

Welcome to the Introduction to the Senior Seminar Nonfiction research guide.

This guide will help navigate you to information for your course research and includes links and information about using Special Collections, Historic Pittsburgh, and database resources.

 

 

Graduating Seniors Dream Over Globe
1950, Chatham University Chronological Photograph Files, 1869-2001

Three Types of Sources

There are three types of sources:

1) Primary Sources

  • Original materials that provide direct evidence or first-hand testimony concerning a topic or event.
  • Primary sources can be contemporary sources created at the time when the event occurred (e.g., letters and newspaper articles) or later (such as, memoirs and oral history interviews).
  • Primary sources may be published or unpublished.  Unpublished sources are unique materials (e.g., family papers) often referred to as archives and manuscripts.
  • What constitutes a primary source varies by discipline. How the researcher uses the source generally determines whether it is a primary source or not.

2) Secondary Sources

  • Works that interpret, analyze, and discuss the evidence provided by primary sources (e.g., scholarly books and articles).
  • Secondary sources are generally a second-hand account or observation at least one step removed from the event.
  • Secondary sources, however, can be considered to be primary sources depending on the context of their use. For example, Ken Burns' documentary of the Civil War is a secondary source for Civil War researchers, but a primary source for those studying documentary filmmaking.

3) Tertiary Sources

  • Books or articles that synthesize or distill primary and secondary sources, often in a convenient, easy-to-read form (e.g., dictionaries, encyclopedias, indexes, and textbooks).