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This module defines primary and secondary sources, offers examples of each, and provides criteria for distinguishing between these two types of sources. In addition, the module offers strategies and criteria to follow for determining the reliability of a research reference and provides examples of reliable and unreliable sources.


Students will learn that reference sources can be highly reliable; yet, some can be very unreliable. This is especially true with sources found on the Internet. When evaluating sources, students should consider the following questions:

  1. What are the author’s credentials?
  2. Is the author an authority on the subject?
  3. Who published the work?
  4. Is the work current?
  5. How accurate is the information?
  6. Is the information reliable?
  7. Is research objectively presented?
  8. Who is the intended audience?

Students will learn to differentiate between primary and secondary research and sources and understand that primary sources answer the following five questions affirmatively :

Defining primary sources

  1. Was the author present at the time of the event?
  2. Is the report an eyewitness account?
  3. Is the work original? Was it written or created at the time of the event?
  4. Does the information come from personal accounts, experiences, or reports?
  5. Are conclusions drawn from first hand evidence?

Students will also learn that secondary sources respond favorably to the following five questions:

Defining secondary sources

  1. Does the author present second-hand accounts of events?
  2. Does the source interpret information offered by primary sources?
  3. Does the information offer judgments, conjectures, and/or conclusions about events reported in primary sources?
  4. Does someone other than the creator interpret the creative work?
  5. Are theories, facts, results, or discoveries analyzed, evaluated, and/or interpreted second-hand?

Teaching strategies:

The instructor should review all material prior to teaching this lesson. In addition, instructors should ensure that students understand how to evaluate sources wisely. The instructor should review reliable and unreliable sources of information and offer examples of each. In the slide show, definitions and examples of reliable, unreliable, primary, and secondary sources are provided. Students should learn to define and discriminate between each type of source.


In order to offer this lesson, instructors need a computer and a multi-media projector.

The following materials and handouts are provided with this module:

  1. PowerPoint slide show
  2. A hand-out of the slide show for students after they receive the lesson
  3. One practice sheet with primary and secondary source exercises
  4. Answer sheets for the practice exercises


The authors recommend that the instructor distribute the practice sheet to the students as a pre-test prior to receiving the lesson. After completing the lesson, students should answer the practice sheet again as a post-test. In this way, instructors may determine whether the students master this objective or require additional instructional support.

Questions & Answers

do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
On having this app for quite a bit time, Haven't realised there's a chat room in it.
what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
types of nano material
abeetha Reply
I start with an easy one. carbon nanotubes woven into a long filament like a string
many many of nanotubes
what is the k.e before it land
what is the function of carbon nanotubes?
I'm interested in nanotube
what is nanomaterials​ and their applications of sensors.
Ramkumar Reply
what is nano technology
Sravani Reply
what is system testing?
preparation of nanomaterial
Victor Reply
Yes, Nanotechnology has a very fast field of applications and their is always something new to do with it...
Himanshu Reply
good afternoon madam
what is system testing
what is the application of nanotechnology?
In this morden time nanotechnology used in many field . 1-Electronics-manufacturad IC ,RAM,MRAM,solar panel etc 2-Helth and Medical-Nanomedicine,Drug Dilivery for cancer treatment etc 3- Atomobile -MEMS, Coating on car etc. and may other field for details you can check at Google
anybody can imagine what will be happen after 100 years from now in nano tech world
after 100 year this will be not nanotechnology maybe this technology name will be change . maybe aftet 100 year . we work on electron lable practically about its properties and behaviour by the different instruments
name doesn't matter , whatever it will be change... I'm taking about effect on circumstances of the microscopic world
how hard could it be to apply nanotechnology against viral infections such HIV or Ebola?
silver nanoparticles could handle the job?
not now but maybe in future only AgNP maybe any other nanomaterials
I'm interested in Nanotube
this technology will not going on for the long time , so I'm thinking about femtotechnology 10^-15
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Mueller Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Civis project - uprm. OpenStax CNX. Nov 20, 2013 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11359/1.4
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