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Digital Collections at NMSU

A guide to the digital collections available through the New Mexico State University Library, background on the collections, and general information regarding digital collections.

Research

Where to start?

When starting a research project you must first select a topic, research the topic, and lastly, find resources that can be used to support your research and your project. It is important to remember that there are two types of sources: primary and secondary. Digital collections are perfect for finding and using sources especially primary sources. There are many ways digital collections can be used for research and there are many digital collections across the web to choose from and to use in your research. They are available 24/7 and many are open access. See the tab Primary Sources for a lot of ideas, inspiration, and great resources.

What are primary sources?
Primary sources are first-hand accounts and raw information and are excellent ways to get direct access to information. Below are some examples of primary sources and links to our collection.

For example, when researching a historical event, you can't interview someone from the Civil War era but through primary sources of newspapers, correspondence, and diaries you can extract information to support your research topic.

What are secondary sources? 

Secondary sources are the interpretation, or the synthesis, of primary sources and present themselves through journal articles, academic books, and reviews. Secondary sources are useful for gathering background information on the topic that you are interested in pursuing and researching. 

The following can be considered secondary sources:

  • review of a movie, book, art exhibit
  • encyclopedias and dictionaries
  • political commentary
  • newspaper editorials, opinion writing
How to tell if a source is primary or secondary?

To determine if something can be used as a primary or secondary source in your research, there are some simple questions you can ask yourself:

  • Does this source come from someone directly involved in the events I’m studying (primary) or from another researcher (secondary)?
  • Am I interested in analyzing the source itself (primary) or only using it for background information (secondary)?
  • Does the source provide original information (primary) or does it comment upon information from other sources (secondary)?