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Gerstein Science Information Centre

HPS211 : Scientific Revolutions II

This guide is intended to assist students in the course as it is taught by Professor Noah Stemeroff.


Hands-on workshop to learn how to find primary and secondary sources for your research essay.

After this 50-minute hands-on session, students will be better prepared to:

  • Recognize the difference between a primary source and secondary source
  • Recall a process of asking questions to develop a thesis and guide historical research
  • Use library resources to find books, journal articles, and primary sources on their topic
  • Design a search strategy to begin finding evidence to build and support their thesis

Use one of the links below to sign up for the workshop that suits your schedule. There are 25 spots available in each section. 

All sections are being held in the 2nd Floor Instruction Lab at Gerstein Science Information Centre. 

SECTION 1: March 9 2016 1:10pm-2:00pm
SECTION 2: March 9 2016 2:10pm-3:00pm
SECTION 3: March 9 2016 3:10pm-4:00pm
SECTION 4: March 9 2016 4:10pm-5:00pm
I am using PICATIC to facilitate registration. Please register with your utoronto email address. 

Welcome to HPS211 Scientific Revolutions II Research & Resources Guide


Questions about how to find primary sources? How to analyze primary sources? Searching the library catalogue? How to find secondary sources? The difference between primary and secondary sources? Legit collections of primary source documents? Find it all here. Use the tabs along the top of the page and the Table of Contents to the right to navigate the site. 

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Primary Sources vs. Secondary Sources


Primary sources provide first-hand testimony or direct evidence concerning a topic under investigation. They are created by witnesses or recorders who experienced the events or conditions being documented.

Often these sources are created at the time when the events or conditions are occurring, but primary sources can also include autobiographies, memoirs, and oral histories recorded later.

The medium of the primary source can be anything, including written texts, statistics, objects, buildings, films, paintings, cartoons, etc. What makes the source a primary source is when it was made, not what it is.

Examples of primary sources include, but are not limited to: 


A secondary source interprets and analyzes primary sources. These sources are one or more steps removed from the event. Secondary sources may have pictures, quotes or graphics of primary sources in them. 

Examples of secondary sources include:

A Word About Context... 

If you're having trouble deciding whether something's a primary source or a secondary source, ask yourself this question: Why Am I Using It? 

For example, if I'm looking at a 1994 book on HIV/AIDS, it's a secondary source if I'm using it to inform my knowledge of HIV/AIDS science and research. But, if I'm interested in how doctors and scientists were researching and writing about HIV/AIDS in the mid-1990s and what this book tells me about them, it's a primary source. 

Get it? If not, let's talk about it: erica.lenton[at]