This paper discusses four general types of tool which can be used to gather primary data in scholarly research: electronic Web-based surveys, blogs, personal response systems or 'clickers', and conferencing systems. All four of these have the benefit of being instantly self-documenting in that any data provided is stored electronically. This is a particularly attractive attribute for masters level students, or final year undergraduates, who may be under pressure to produce some independent and original work with very limited resources. As a general observation these tools offer enhanced scope for students to carry out original and distinctive work, and to place their own stamp on their findings. If nothing else, the use of unique primary data can differentiate one student's work from that of others. But this needs to be tempered with an appreciation of the limitations of primary data and an understanding of how to use it realistically.
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