Exercise

Think about an investigation in which you are currently engaged (an essay, report, experiment, whatever). Think of two examples for each of the five classes and four types of information listed above. Remember that for each type or class, it is a question of the relation between the knowledge or information and your topic. Reflect in particular on the context in which your investigation is occurring.

Direct and indirect sources Direct sources

In broad terms, direct sources are those that provide first-hand information about events. A radio interview with a politician in which we hear what the politician has to say about the economy is first-hand. An extensive speech delivered in Parliament by the same politician is also first-hand. A book that analyses this politician's particular views about the economy is, by contrast, second-hand. In scientific disciplines, experiments are the most common direct source; in other disciplines, surveys and interviews, or research into written and oral records of events provide direct access to information. All these sources are direct and, within the appropriate context, recognised as containing original evidence and ideas. They are a significant source of the material we need to form our arguments and explanations.

It used to be thought that these direct or 'primary' sources were somehow more 'factual' or descriptive, and that interpretation was added to them by

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