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Nursing - Information Literacy

What's a Primary Source?


A primary source in science is a document or record that reports on a study, experiment, trial or research project. Primary sources are usually written by the person(s) who did the research, conducted the study, or ran the experiment, and include hypothesis, methodology, and results.

Primary Sources include:

  • Pilot/prospective studies
  • Survey research
  • Case studies
  • Lab notebooks
  • Clinical trials and randomized clinical trials
  • Dissertations

To Find Primary Sources in CINAHL (link to database provided below):
1) Select Advanced Search
2) Go to Publication Type and select Clinical Trial, Randomized Clinical Trial, and Dissertations.
(Hold down the CTRL key to select multiple items in the list)

To Find Primary Sources in Medline (link to database provided below):
1) Select Advanced Search
2) Under Publication Type, select Clinical Trial, Controlled Clinical Trial, and Randomized Clinical Trial.
(Hold down the CTRL key to select multiple items in the list)MEDLINE primary source search example