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Using Primary and Secondary Sources


Researching a topic has never been easier. At home, or through public and school libraries, we have access to the worldwide web, electronic databases and e-books, as well as traditional print material such as books, encyclopedias, magazines and newspapers. But the ease of access and the sheer volume of accessible information can also complicate the process of research. How do we choose what sources to use? Which ones are reliable? Which ones provide us with an accurate account of events? Which ones give us a balanced view of the issues?

There are no easy answers to these questions. Researchers need to know how to sift through the available information and select the best. Textbooks, biographies and historical websites provide us with the essential background knowledge of historic events. But these secondary sources of information all relied on primary sources as the basis of their research. In some cases, secondary sources contain reproductions or reprinted versions of primary sources.

Throughout the Ontario Time Machine you will be examining digital copies of a number of primary and secondary source documents. You will be analysing their content using various research techniques, answering exploratory questions and drawing conclusions based on your own research.

RESEARCH TIPSNEXT Comparing Primary and Secondary Sources

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