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ICS Gateway Course: Primary vs. Secondary Sources

ICS 195: Comparative Approaches to Global Issues

Primary Sources

Image courtesy Cardinal Stritch University Library

Primary sources are contemporary, first-hand, (un)published accounts of an event. Published = printed, filmed, uploaded, or digitized (non-archival) materials.

Archival Collections


  • International newspapers--Links to and descriptions of (nearly) all of the Duke Library's newspapers - original, electronic & microform, as well as links to collections available to members of the Duke community, but located outside of Duke itself.

Primary Source Publications

Publications of original documents, often with retrospective scholarly analysis and bibliographies. 

Audiovisual Materials

  • Still Images: embedded collections, web portals; and commercial collections (charge for use, but browsing is free)
  • Moving Images (Video/Films)
  • Sound-recordings – such as oral histories, political speeches = eg. Search by format ("Audio") for keyword (eg. "human rights")

Numerical & Geospatial Data

  • Data & Digital Maps
  • Non-spatial data sets – indices do not take into account any spatial relationships of the geographical entities (i.e., distances apart, clustering within, spatial concentrations, etc.).
  • Writing with Statistics (Purdue): Numbers don't speak for themselves. Here's advice on how to use statistics effectively.

Primary Source Databases

Secondary Sources

Image courtesy Cardinal Stritch University Library

Secondary sources are retrospective analyses based on the author’s own reading of existing primary sources. Scholarly work uses recent, peer-reviewed academic sources, such as journal (not magazine) articles, books, and book chapters.



Dissertations & theses

Book Reviews