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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Primary Secondary Tertiary Research - Good Tips

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Primary, Secondary, Tertiary Research Sources



by Lisa Lickel

Research
Every good book contains elements of truth and fiction. Even nonfiction is biased in the eye of the author who picks and chooses which facts to present and the way to present them. Fiction, though, must contain enough believability to offset the unbelievable. This is generally building the trust factor in order to persuade your reader to suspend his or her disbelief for you.

Typical research is gathered by primary and secondary resources, and occasional other means, tertiary and so forth, points of origin. It’s either the personal experience (primary/first hand), knowledge from the person who had the personal experience (still primary since you’re gathering from the primary source), or someone relaying the information from the person who had the personal experience (secondary source). Further removal from the original primary source of information is like playing the game of phone call where someone passes a message by whispering into the ear of the person next to him, who then passes on what he (thought/assumed) he heard to the next person and so on. Very often the end result has little to do with the original message. It can be similar to hand copying records from one generation to the next, or translating language from one lingua to another or one generation to another. You see how tiny but compounded both innocent and calculated or simple mistakes can cost an author his credibility.

Free Student JournalTo begin, make sure you’re ready to keep track of what you’re doing and how to get back there for reference when you’re writing.

Establish a method to collect and access the information you collect.
Examples – Excel or other spreadsheet that probably came with your computer word processing software, a document with your notes, Scrivener (not free), Zotero (free). Copy the internet address, any other relevant info such as author, date of information, if a physical resource such as museum display, phone book, encyclopedia, note all data about it; if an interview, make notes about the person’s name, the date, place and circumstances of interview.

Label and date all sources. Many academic and other papers today require noting the date collected when using online resources in footnotes/bibliography.

            So, just what are Primary, Secondary, and Tertiary sources? Read on.

Primary Sources
A primary source provides direct or firsthand evidence about an event, object, person, or work of art. Primary sources include diaries, letters, historical and legal documents, government records, eyewitness accounts or direct interviews when you can quote the original source, results of experiments performed and logged, statistical data, original creative writing, audio and video recordings, speeches, and art objects, surveys, fieldwork, and internet communications such as e-mail, blogs, forums, listservs, and newsgroups.

Secondary Sources
Secondary sources describe, discuss, interpret, comment upon, analyze, evaluate, summarize, and process primary sources. These include many books that interpret information* articles in newspapers or popular magazines—even interviewing and rewriting an account of an interview can contain inadvertent error or bias, book or movie reviews, or articles found in scholarly journals that discuss or evaluate someone else's original research.

Age is an important factor in determining whether an article is a primary or secondary source. When close to the original event, the more the information offered can be considered primary.  Review articles summarize research on a particular topic, but they do not present any new findings; therefore, they are considered secondary sources. Their bibliographies, however, can be used to identify primary sources.

*If a book includes firsthand original documentation, the book can be a primary source.

Tertiary Sources
Tertiary sources contain information that has been compiled from primary and secondary sources. Tertiary sources include almanacs, chronologies, dictionaries and encyclopedias, directories, guidebooks, indexes, abstracts, manuals, and textbooks.

Factors to consider in reviewing a resource:
Keep in mind that ALL INFORMATION IS BIASED. That’s not lying, it’s choosing what facts and data are relevant to share, in what manner they are shared, according to the researcher’s or the interviewee’s particular point of view. What do you remember and why? That’s bias. It’s not always deliberate. (Then again, that’s what makes fiction soooo cool—the interpretation of information.)

For whom was the information published (or website made) and why? Is it to inform, sell, entertain, or advance an opinion?
For websites, is advertising included?
Is the purpose of the information stated and clear?
Are there personal, political, religious, or cultural biases presented?
Are the author's credentials and affiliations listed?
Is contact information provided for an individual author or an organization?
What are the qualifications of the author or group that published the information?
Does an organization appear to sponsor the information?
Does the author cite the works of others?
Are the sources listed in the bibliography or included links related to the focus of the research/purpose of the site?

Always verify your secondary and tertiary information!
Free Free Culture Research Conference logo V4 
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Many of these tips came from Ithaca College Library, Ithaca, New York
https://library.ithaca.edu/, retrieved February 2016 (Why is it important to tell you this? Because the info may have been updated or changed or even taken down since then.). This site’s Research 101 is an excellent resource, highly recommended.



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Friday, February 9, 2018

Ever Had One of Those "Throwing in the Towel" Days?

Every writer thinks about quitting. Every single one of them. If you've never thought of throwing in the towel, I'd daresay you aren't very serious about your craft. And that's not to be insulting; it's merely the truth. Those writers (me included) who truly think we're meant to write as either our chosen profession or our life's calling have thought about tossing that computer off the balcony or under that bus and never looking back.

Here I am pondering my decision to either
continue writing or quit and go on the road with
a circus. Wait, that's not me. That's my grand-
daughter celebrating the fact that she's not yet
an adult who faces those doggoned decisions 
every day of her life. Enjoy it while you can, 
sweetheart! 

I'm a Christian writer--rather, I'm a Christian and a writer who happens to write mostly Christian material. There's nothing unique in that. Many Christians write for His glory. Some are well-known and widely read. Others (again, me included) are not well-known, nor widely read, but that doesn't stop me from trying. Every single day. If I'm not writing, I'm thinking about writing (or more specifically, about why I'm not writing at the moment). It consumes me. I don't doubt that many secular writers approach their writing in the same way I do. Perhaps they don't have the Lord looking over their shoulders when they write secular material, but then again, maybe they do. Many writers who are Christians write for the secular audience. There's nothing wrong with that. What would be wrong would be wanting to give it all up when they realize they're probably never going to make a lot of money or gain a lot of prestige from their chosen profession/ministry/hobby.

Back to quitting. There have been times, too numerous to mention to be honest, when I've seriously considered throwing in the towel, crawling into bed, and pulling the covers up over my head. I've been that disgusted with myself, my work, and the industry that I actually considered tossing all my training, time, and effort in the trash. And that's on a good day. You don't want to know what I consider on my bad days.

Is that a bad thing? I don't think so. It's not fun, and I'm never very productive on my "towel" days, but I think examining our motives for writing, the reasons we continue to do it in the face of the very real possibility of rejection, and our final decision to quit or not to quit make "towel" days redeeming in the end.

A few months ago, I came down with the grandpappy of all colds. I don't think I've ever had one that lasted as long or took as much out of me as that particular cold did. One of the worst things about it (besides the truckloads of tissues I used and the gallons of cold medicine I consumed) was that I seriously considered quitting writing. I don't know why I even thought about it because I was too sick to do anything but blow my nose and try to live through the next minute. But for some reason, my state of ill health and the subsequent depression it caused made me ponder (or wallow in) the truth of what my writing was actually accomplishing.

I came up with a few things. First of all, I was pretty sure that cold wasn't going to kill me, no matter how hard it tried and no matter how convinced I was that I was on my last legs. So if it wasn't going to kill me, I was going, sooner or later, to have to face the decision of continuing to write or not continuing. I realized that since I probably wasn't going to achieve overnight fame and fortune, I needed to understand why I wrote in the first place.

Was it for fame? No. I'm an introvert by nature, and wouldn't enjoy fame even if I achieved it. Was it money? Possibly, but I've been at this game of writing for at least a couple of decades and have yet to be forced to call the Brinks trucks to my house to cart off all my riches. There was nothing new about not making loads of cash. Was it the hour after hour, day after day drudgery? Probably not, since I'm retired and have a lot more time to write than I ever did when I worked full-time, and writing is never drudgery for me anyway. Well, if it wasn't for fame, money (or lack of), or the time I've spent in the pursuit of writing, what was it?

Simple. It was the expectation I placed upon myself every single time I sat down to my computer and hoped for inspiration. Even if I don't want fame, money, or those lost hours tacked onto the end of my life, I still have my pride. And my pride makes me do funny things. Of course, being a Christian, I believe there's more to this than just my pride and my personal view of myself. I don't give up on my writing because I feel it's my God-given gift and I think He'll let me know when it's time to stop--more than likely, from my dying. But why don't I give up when I'm totally convinced that either 1.) I'm not cut out for it, 2.) I have no talent, 3.) there's too much competition out there, 4.) I'm too old, or 5.) I don't need the money--hahahaha.

Because I know better. Deep down inside, I know I write because He put that desire into me before I was born. Yes, I'm not rich, famous, or the darned best writer to ever inhabit planet Earth. But I'm me. I'm the person I'm supposed to be and part of being that person is writing.

The same goes for every one of you. You're doing what you're doing (writing, that is) because you're meant to. If you ever stop writing, it'll be for one of two reasons: 1.) you were never meant to write in the first place, or 2.) you're just plain wrong. You were meant to write and your wondering about why you should continue because that's what writers do.

Welcome to the club.










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