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Researching For Your Essay: Primary Sources

By Expert Author: Kiran Chauhan

Writing essays is unavoidable for most, if not all, students. One of the most important aspects of writing an essay is the research that comes first; without this, your essay will quite likely receive a low grade. To help you effectively research, we have compiled a list of primary sources that are commonly used when preparing to write an essay. One of the main things to remember when researching is to note all titles, page numbers, and format of the source, as you will need this information when it comes to writing and referencing your essay .

Researching entails selecting information from a variety of sources. In this article, we will look at primary sources; these include books, journal articles, newspapers, official publications, and dissertations. Secondary sources include encyclopaedias, dictionaries, bibliographies, internet resources, subject databases, and internet subject gateways. We are going to look at books, journals, newspapers and official documents.

1. Books
Books are the most common primary source, and it is quite likely that most of the ideas you will use for you essay will come from published books.
You can search for key words in your library catalogue, to see if anything relevant is in stock. Often, when you are directed to a certain part of the library, you will find other relevant books by simply perusing the shelves where you have already found a useful title.
It is also a good idea to check the references or bibliographies of the books you have found, as this is another fast and effective way of searching for other relevant material. Make a note of any that sound interesting and significant, and search for them either through a library catalogue, or online if you are happy to purchase them.
If you are unable to find a specific title, ask the library staff to order it in for you. You will need to do this well in advance of writing your essay, as this could take some time.

2. Journal articles
Journal articles are particularly useful to post-graduates, as the information in them is typically more up-to-date than books. Most students rely on journals for current perspectives on contemporary issues, being familiar with current journals can also prevent your essay from repeating old debates.
You should be able to find latest issues of journals in your university library, or in the department.
Take a look at the contents pages for related titles and authors who are known in the field.
Check over the reference list to quickly find other relevant titles.
Most journals can be found online, so it is worth doing a search using keywords. Your library computer catalogue will be able to help you find them.

3. Newspapers
Newspapers are the best source for the most current information.
You can search for back issues using newspaper indexes, found on paper, CD-ROM, and on-line.

4. Official publications
Government publications are essential sources of data for those researching business, education, law, and social science. A library search is often the best method for accessing this information.

It is absolutely crucial that you reference all your sources correctly. Incorrect referencing can result in losing up to as much as 10% of your marks. If you are unsure, there are many academic proofreading services that have professional proofreaders available that can check your referencing is done in accordance with the style chosen by your university.

I am a freelance proofreader/editor, who works with a team of professional proofreaders for Proofread My Essay. The company specialises in academic proofreading but has many customers with a variety of different documents that require proofreading, such as CVs, cover letters, novels, and magazine articles. We are a friendly, approachable team of experts who always ensure the highest quality for competitive prices. Why not get in touch today to see how we can help you: info@proofreadmyessay.co.uk.

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