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Topical Guides: ---- Research

Education Research > 4: Supporting Data, Documents & Artifacts

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4A: Types of Resources

Data (such as facts or statistics), documents, artifacts (objects) and biographical information related to your topic will provide support, evidence or credence to your research thesis or claims. The best source for your project will depend on what type of information you are researching. For example, biographical information provides context to a subject's life. Data and statistics illustrate trends or provide support for ideas. Artifacts provide visual evidence for your findings.

It is important to distinguish between the two basic types of information: primary sources and secondary sources. Primary sources are from the time period you are researching (from the historical context). These sources can include artifacts, statistics, autobiographies or newspapers. Primary sources often form the foundation for a research project. Examples are: American newspapers from the 1920's, English lesson plans from the nineteenth century, parenting guides from 1970, statistics that have not been processed by another researcher, etc.

Secondary sources may also form a foundation for research, but more often these sources provide additional support for your ideas. They include Web pages, articles, or contemporary books. The key distinction between primary and secondary sources is that secondary sources interpret primary sources. Textbooks, biographies, and book reviews are good examples of secondary sources.

4B: Examples

National Center for Education Statistics

The NCES, a branch of the United States Department of Education, is the single, richest resource for educational statistics on the World Wide Web. NCES produces print resources on a variety of topics, as well as the Web-based Encyclopedia of ED Stats. Use this Web site not only to search materials available online, but also to identify titles of print resources that may be held in the library. Special sections on fast facts and statistics for practitioners are included.

Speeches & Testimony (U.S. Department of Education)

Transcripts of selected speeches and congressional testimony prepared for delivery by the Education Secretary and other senior ED officials.

Challenge and Opportunity: The Impact of Charter Schools on School Districts

Done by the Department of Education, this is the largest review to date of the impact of charter schools on school systems and is based on interviews and visits to 49 school districts in five states.

4C: How to Find More


The official U.S. Government portal to over 30 million pages of government information, services, and online transactions. It is a source for finding  government documents, reports, and statistical data from a variety of federal sources. Search by key word or use the topical index to browse your way through the documents.

Google Book Search

A beta search tool with scanned pages from thousands of all types of books contributed to Google by publishers and libraries. Your keywords can be searched within the full text of books. Only a limited number of pages can be viewed online for books under copyright restrictions. In these cases, see if OSU or an OhioLINK library own the book for borrowing. Books that are no longer under copyright restriction can be read and printed in their entirety online.

OSU Library E-Book Collections (OSU access)

These collections are available through the OSU library subscriptions. All titles in these collections can be found through the library catalog, but by connecting directly to a collection, topics and names are searchable within the books.


Search the National Center for Education Statistics to determine how many children are living in poverty.

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Pop Quiz

Which of the following is NOT a primary source?

Correct answer:[NOTE: Score is not recorded]

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