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Here are a few examples: A paper for a literature course analyzing several poems by Emily Dickinson A paper for a political science course comparing televised speeches delivered by two candidates for prime minister A paper for a communications course discussing gender bias in television commercials A paper for a business administration course that discusses the results of a survey the writer conducted with local businesses to gather information about their work from home and flextime policies A paper for an elementary education course that discusses the results of an experiment the writer conducted to compare the effectiveness of two different methods of mathematics instruction For these types of papers, primary research is the main focus.
As much as possible, use secondary sources that are closely linked to primary research, such as a journal article presenting the results of the authors’ scientific study or a book that cites interviews and case studies.
These sources are more reliable and add more value to your paper than sources that are further removed from primary research.
For instance, if a writer’s purpose is to inform readers about how the American No Child Left Behind legislation has affected elementary education in the United States, a magazine article on the subject would be a secondary source.
However, suppose the writer’s purpose is to analyze how the news media has portrayed the effects of the No Child Left Behind legislation.
Sometimes a writer plagiarizes work on purpose—for instance, by copying and pasting or purchasing an essay from a website and submitting it as original course work.
This often happens because the person has not managed his or her time and has left the paper to the last minute or has struggled with the writing process or the topic.For instance, a writer may be unable to provide a complete, accurate citation because of neglecting to record bibliographical information.A writer may cut and paste a passage from a website into her paper and later forget where the material came from.Recall that primary sources present firsthand information.Secondary sources are one step removed from primary sources.Any of these can lead to desperation and cause the writer to just take someone else’s ideas and take credit for them.In other cases, a writer may commit accidental plagiarism due to carelessness, haste, or misunderstanding.A paper that presents an original experiment would include some discussion of similar prior research in the field.Jorge, who is preparing his essay on low-carbohydrate diets, knew he did not have the time, resources, or experience needed to conduct original experimental research for his paper.They present a writer’s analysis or interpretation of primary source materials.How you balance primary and secondary source material in your paper will depend on the topic and assignment.