Social Media as a Primary Source: A Coming of Age | EDUCAUSE Review

Vicky Colman - What is a primary source? Many research guides created by academic librarians for students define a primary source as an original object or document—firsthand information that was written or created during the time under study. These guides include examples of various types of pre-Digital Age resources such as diaries, news-film footage, and interviews. In addition, traditional primary source documents tend to include public voices as records of historical events. But what about today? What is a primary source in the Digital Age?

Social media has come of age as a primary source, and there is tremendous opportunity for academics—and academic librarians—to begin treating it as such. The question is: How do we harness the potential of social media sites to enhance the research process and scholarly communications? Where do we begin?