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Primary Sources Guide

How to find primary source materials in the McGraw-Page Library in a variety of disciplines

Primary Sources in the Health Sciences

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
  • Cohort studies
  • Survey research
  • Case studies
  • Lab notebooks
  • Clinical trials and randomized clinical trials (RCTs)
  • Dissertations



NOTE: An article that is a review, systematic review, meta-analysis, letter to the editor, opinion, or response is not a primary source. 

Finding Primary Sources in the Health Sciences

  • CINAHL Complete 
    Index to nursing and allied health literature with full text of over 600 journals. Coverage from 1981-present.

Finding Primary Sources: Under the Advanced Search, select Publication Type: Clinical Trial and Randomized Clinical Trial. (Hold down the CTRL or Command key to select multiple items in the list)

  • PubMed (Medline)
    PubMed comprises more than 25 million citations for biomedical literature from MEDLINE, life science journals, and online books. Citations may include links to full-text content from PubMed Central and publisher web sites.

Finding Primary Sources: After conducting your search, check the boxes for Clinical Trial, Controlled Clinical Trial, and/or Randomized Clinical Trial under Article Type in the left sidebar.


Find more databases in the health sciences