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Research Basics: Home

Use this guide as a library and resource overview. If you have any questions or doubts regarding the appropriateness of a source, ask your teacher or the librarian. Always cite your sources as soon as you find them!


This guide is designed to get you started on basic scholarly research. It is by no means comprehensive, but the guide covers many of the aspects of research you will need through high school and much of college.

Do your research early and write down every source as soon as you discover that it will be of use to you. Don't be lazy - keep looking at resources until you find the right ones for your project. Take notes by hand; the act of writing makes a better impression on your brain than typing does.

A word on the sources available through the library: While we subscribe to a few online databases, the majority of those for your use come from the Alabama Virtual Library. If the links to specific sites don't work, go to the AVL site through the library webpage. A general search for AVL on the internet will not allow access to the materials.

You are encouraged to use the library and the librarian as resources. Your librarian knows many tricks to prying relevant and appropriate informatin from the internet.

Secondary Sources

A Secondary Source is a work that discusses the subject but is written after the time contemporary with it. The purpose is to interpret primary sources, and can appear as newspaper articles, journal entries, oral history recordings, or books.

For more information:


Primary Sources

Primary Sources

Some teachers may require primary sources, which are records of events as they are first described without any interpretation or commentary. An example would be Samuel Pepys diary account of the Great Fire of London in 1666. Letters, memoirs, census data, newspaper articles of the day, are all examples of Primary Sources materials. These accounts can be written, oral, visual, or electronic transmission.

Often the books you choose may contain primary source as well as secondary source material. Other places to look for primary sources include:

-Annals of American History

-Early American Newspapers

-History Study Center

-Library of Congress American Memories Collection

-Diaries, speeches, letters, memoirs, autobiographies, photographs, etc.

Here is an article on Primary Sources and their use:

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