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For Staff

Digital Primary Sources in action: outwit AI use

A Libguide dedicated to all things MU Staff, bringing together useful resources, tools and services available to MU Staff in one place.

Primary sources: support for your modules?

We know that you send your proposed module titles and descriptions to the Academic Database (ADB) around mid-Feb, in the main. You then have to decide on the lesson plans, and later on again, decide on your reading list. 

MU teaching faculty can avail of a service via some database publishers (who provide MU access to primary source material) whereby they will analyse your lesson plans in detail and provide you with a report. The report typically contains class-specific / thematic links to relevent digital material, that will support the delivery of your classes.

Course Alignment (in its fullest sense) involves a database provider examining your module in order to provide you with a report that gives you links to relevant primary sources in the database arranged in a systematic way, either thematically, or week-by-week. This is suited to many FACSP and FSS modules. You can use this report to build or enrich your module by adding the stable-links to your reading lists, and your teaching, and in doing so, your students will benefit of the vast primary sources available to them from MU Library. Using primary source material is often an excellent way to reduce use of AI-generated submissions from your students, as they have to engage with the material in a unique way.This service is provided by Gale Primary Sources and Academic Video Online (AVON).

Other primary sources databases (AM Explorer and ProQuest) offer a report on aligned material in their databases in the form of a "Curriculum Mapping" report that you can use to plan relevant material for your modules, with bespoke information for most departments in MU - ask me about these 2023 reports today

Begin the process by checking to see if your subject is covered by our primary source collections here

To access our physical primary source collections, please view Special Collections & Archives and the historic Russell Library. You can also book a class with the Special Collections & Archives here.

Course Alignment: timescale - what to expect

Please allow 4-6 weeks ahead of the date of commencement of your module. Depending on the service provider, Course Alignment can be a very intensive task, and it can depend on time of year/workload of the publisher that is offering the service. 

Course Alignment: what you can expect to receive

For products offering full course alignment services, you can receive module-specific suggestions for innovative content use in your classes, with direct links to the content, like this example

For curriculum mapping, the content you receive can be a report with suggested links to collections within the product for an overall departmental subject.

For subject alignment, you can expect to see subject-relevant content within a product and support information about using this material in the classroom, and/or linking to this content. 

My module is already set up: can I still use these services?

Absolutely; the 2023 reports can still be of use to established modules. The report that you receive back from the publisher may give you ideas for new approaches to your classes, or could be of use in research projects for the class. You may also realise that there is specific primary source material that relates to your module. Contact the Academic Engagement Librarian for further information.

Who to contact about Course Alignment or Curriculum Mapping reports?

Confused about where to start? Contact Helen Farrell, Academic Engagement Librarian:

Using digital primary sources in your online teaching

Browse through the AM Explorer YouTube channel here for guidance on using its collections and more.

Undergraduate Pedagogy and Critical Digital Archives.

Featuring a wide array of perspectives, Transforming the Authority of the Archive details new roles for archives in undergraduate pedagogy and new roles for undergraduates in archives. While there has long been a place for archival exploration in undergraduate education (especially primary source analysis of items curated by archivists and educators), the models offered here engage students not only in analyzing collections, but also in the manifold challenges of building, stewarding, and communicating about collections. In transforming what archives are to undergraduate education, the projects detailed in this book transform the authority of the archive, as students and community partners claim powers to curate and create history.

Nunes, Charlotte and Andi Gustavson. Transforming the Authority of the Archive: Undergraduate Pedagogy and Critical Digital Archives. Lever Press, 2023. Project MUSE

Empowering students with primary sources [video & slides]

Take a look at this useful webinar "Empowering Students with Primary Sources" - (from ProQuest and Choice) webinar (14th Sept, 2023). As well as the  recording, the presentation slides are available for download here. Empowering Students with Primary Sources - Choice 360

The webinar covers:

  •     The significance of primary sources
  •     Document projects as innovative strategies for primary source integration into teaching and learning
  •     Inspiring advocacy by bridging the gap between historical and contemporary social issues

    Practical approaches for leveraging primary sources to promote student engagement and foster connections

Using digital primary sources to reduce use of AI by students

How do I develop learning experiences and assignments that discourage the use of AI content generation services?

A recent July 2023 paper, link here, covers the topic, by Ahmad Samer Wazan, Imran Taj, Abdulhadi Shoufan, Romain Laborde, Rémi Venant. How to Design and Deliver Courses for Higher Education in the AI Era: Insights from Exam Data Analysis. 2023. ffhal-04168693v2.

The Center for Integrated Professional Development - Illinois State summarised the approach that can be helpful to designing modules and assessments in a way that decreases AI dependency in the following summary:

  • Consider connecting your assignment prompts deeply to in-class discussions and activities. AI content generation services do not have access to your course content, so requiring mention of topics or ideas specific to your class negates the value of AI-created content.
  • Require more than one draft of the same paper/assignment. Have students bring a first draft to class, then work during class to revise and improve the paper/assignment. Even if students use AI-generated content for their first draft, they will be invested in the work to refine the second draft.
  • Encourage primary research, when possible, (see: Is my subject covered?) so that student work uses information not available on the internet (e.g., interviews, reviews of archival materials).
  • Consider using citation practices that require DOI numbers or links to validate resources.
  • Include a reflective component in your paper/assignment that can only be created by students themselves. AI content generation services do not have the ability to create content that isn’t based on reported and searchable information.
  • Develop writing prompts and other assignments at levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy that require higher-level cognitive engagement. AI content generation services can construct content at the “create” and “evaluate” levels rather effectively; however, content that requires students to “analyze,” “apply,” “understand,” or “remember” is often lacking in complexity and depth.
  • Use small assignments/papers in conjunction with other technologies to allow them to be written during class time, such as a Moodle quiz, or a prompt on Menti.
  • Consider multi-modal project types, such as presentations, videos, or podcasts.
  • Group and/or client-based projects, where students must collaborate with one another or external entities.
  • Problem-based learning and design thinking are processes that are too complex for AI content generators to navigate effectively

[Adapted from:]

[Source:Ai-generated content in the classroom: Considerations for course design (2023) AI-Generated Content: Considerations for Course Design. Center for Integrated Professional Development - Illinois State. Available at: (Accessed: 26 May 2023).]



If you ARE using Generative AI in T&L...

Image credits: Guidelines for using ChatGPT with academic honesty (Jarrah, Wardat & Fidalgo) 2003. 

The article is worth reading in full as it contains excellent guidelines for users of ChatGPT in academic writing: Jarrah, A. M., Wardat, Y., & Fidalgo, P. (2023). Using ChatGPT in academic writing is (not) a form of plagiarism: What does the literature say?. Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies, 13(4), e202346.

When it comes to looking at how to cite AI in your teaching & research, the situation is still evolving but advice from Leeds Beckett University in the UK is as follows:

When you use or refer to information created by generative artificial intelligence (AI) tools such as ChatGPT, DALL-E or Google Bard, you must acknowledge this in your work by citing it correctly. You should also acknowledge any use of generative AI tools to assist with your work, for example, in helping with planning, creating an initial structure or generating ideas, graphs, formulas or code.

This is important to consider because it is not just a requirement to acknowledge ideas or data, but also the structural and development work in creating assignments or written work.

Ways of using AI to manage your modules

Excellent analysis on how you can use AI in your course development and admin:

Dickey, E. and Bejarano, A. (2023) A model for integrating generative AI into course content development, Available at: (Accessed: 25 August 2023).



Introducing MU Digital Primary Sources: physical & digital

MU staff and students can access a range of digital content in our:

  • MU Digital Library primary source material (MU Special Collections & Archives digital material)
  • MU subscriptions to digital primary source material (non-MU special collections & archives digital material)

This guide will give you an idea of what digital Primary Source material MU has access to and what supports are available to faculty who intend using them. Some of MU's database providers offer support services to faculty in their adoption and use of these digital primary sources, and some databases also offer thematic information.

MU Library receive "module alignment" or "course mapping" reports from some these database providers. They typically have analysed all of MU's modules and have mapped them onto the content that they provide. Some also give information about using these resources in class. Other databases may provide a fuller service and are contactable directly. Finally, some databases have multi-disciplinary applications and present information in a thematic way, so they have been included in this guide. Now, take a look and see what Primary Sources we have and if your subject is covered below.

For physical Primary Sources in MU, see our:

As the current iteration of generative AI programs and machine learning becomes more sophisticated and integrated more widely into our lives, much of Higher Education (HE) is looking at ways of setting assignments and classes that reduce the inappropriate use of AI by students.

Designing modules and assignments in a way that supports your students' development and outwits over-reliance on AI (where it is detrimental to learning outcomes) should be considered. Primary Source materials naturally lend themselves to this approach, as Primary Source material, whether digital or physical generally:

  • Has not been used as training data for AI
  • Is unlikely to be immediately familiar to your students
  • Is memorable to your students - the immediacy of primary sources makes an impression in the way an article may not
  • Is likely to require a considered analysis by your students
  • Lends itself to aligning with your learning outcomes for your classes.

There are two distinct skill-sets associated with using Primary Sources:

  • Locating Primary Sources; we've made this easy for you in our section on "Is my subject covered" on this page!)
  • Interpreting & Using Primary Sources; there's lots of information on this page on these aspects.

Is my subject covered?

Alignment services for modules, reports, and subject-aligned content available from MU Library:


Support / service offered

Subjects covered

Usage guidance from MU Library

AM Explorer (Primary Sources): link to the database. *



Curriculum alignment report for June 2023 is now available from Helen Farrell.

It has particular relevance to the following MU departments: see right

Chinese Studies
Media Studies

*Check out MU Library's guide to using AM Explorer, with 2023 Curriculum Mapping report for faculty, case studies and scope information here.

When you use AM Explorer for the first time, click on Collections at the top of the home page to see a list of collections, themes, time periods and regions included in the resource.

Browse the collections to see the sort of material included. Each collection includes an Introduction telling you about the collection, and the archives which house the original documents.

Gale Primary Sources: 

Partial course alignment

History, Social Sciences, History of Law, Newspaper sources

For Course Alignment analysis for your module, Contact Carolyn Beckford direct in Gale, and CC Helen Farrell in MU. 

ProQuest Primary Sources:

  • British Periodicals 
  • Collection I-II 
  • Religious Magazine Archive
  • Parliamentary Papers (U.K.)
  • Patrologia Latina
  • Literature Online

Curriculum analysis report available for MU for 2023 for certain departments, from Helen Farrell.

English, History, Literature & Language, Religion, Philosophy, Theology.

Note down (using the information in the first cell on this row, which databases you'd like to use. Choose the databases you wish to search here on the ProQuest Primary Sources page AND use filters for different types of source materials, in the advanced search page.

Academic Video Online (AVON): 

Partial course alignment - videos will be identified that would support the learning outcomes in your module, and provided by email.

All Faculties/most subjects covered.

Contact AVON product advisor Sarah Brennan directly. For teaching guidance, take a look at the recorded seminar on Teaching With Streaming Video.

Sage Business Cases: 

Full course-alignment service and additional teaching notes for faculty, on a dedicated guide. 


Read the supporting material for faculty here

Request full course-mapping for your module by emailing

Sage Research Methods: 

Subject-aligned content available from the product at all times, including suggested reading lists for subjects

Most subjects covered

Browse reading lists and content by discipline:

Advice from faculty-to-faculty on adopting Primary Source content in the classroom

  • Use oral sources as an accessible way into primary sources. Prepare the students for the characteristics of the specific sources, and their limitations. Choose a simple source first.
  • One page of a document can be a way of branching out into a range of broader sources and will provide your students with a much larger picture of study, so don’t be afraid to “start small” with one page.
  • Let your students dive right into documents and sustain a critical point of view as they analyse it. It can be very fruitful to show students the bias that can exist and to critically appraise the material.
  • Use the librarian’s expertise in your organisation. Access their knowledge of documents and other sources. Look out for “new to” assistance tools and help pages and use them.

Thanks to advice provided by Professor Giampiero Brunelli, Università di Roma, Professor Jerzy Zdanowski, Andrzej Frycz Modrzewski Krakow University, and Dr Ainhoa Campos Posada, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, who were speakers at a 2022 Adam Matthew webinar on "Primary Source Literacy in Europe: Empowering students and researchers with the practical tools they need".

Five reasons why primary sources should be used for teaching

Scheinfeldt, T. (2023). Teaching and Learning with Primary Sources in the age of Generative AI. [online] Found History. Available at: [Accessed 17 Jul. 2023].


5 reasons supporting primary source use summarised from (Cayley, 2021):

1.  To understand the present, we must understand the past: It’s true that history tends to repeat itself, and primary sources provide a critical perspective that can support students in interpreting how past events have contributed to our current world’.‘Educators can use primary sources to provide additional context during lessons, and to encourage students to think critically about significant events – both past and present. Primary source materials, such as newspapers, brochures, forensic reports and court transcripts, can help bring topics to life, enabling students to deepen their understanding and uncover new perspectives.’

2. Primary sources unlock diverse and historically marginalised perspectives:By examining primary documents, students can unearth historically marginalised voices that are not usually taught in mainstream curricula, such as those of LGBTIQ+ and minority ethnic groups. Archives that provide access to a wide variety of voices and cultures are critical to preventing history being told through a narrow lens and helping diverse student groups see themselves represented in the past.’

3. Primary sources help students develop critical-thinking skills: ‘Presenting student researchers with materials that demonstrate issues and ideas outside the norm, like radical or extremist movements, encourages independent and critical thinking while also fostering an open dialogue in a safe environment.’nquiry into primary sources encourages students to wrestle with contradictions and compare multiple sources that represent differing points of view, confronting the complexity of the past.’

‘To navigate today’s information-heavy landscape, students need to consume media through a similar critical lens, and the skills that are needed to properly interrogate primary source documents are transferrable to the consumption and analysis of contemporary media.’

4. Studying primary sources helps students become better citizens: ‘Primary sources enable students to explore the documentary evidence of a nation’s history – the roots of its government, value systems and role on the world stage.’

‘To be active agents of positive change, students must become informed citizens. Digital archives that focus on government, politics and law, such as Old Bailey Online, which shows the proceedings of London’s main criminal court from 1674 to 1913, are valuable for understanding how concepts of citizenship, justice and the treatment of different groups have developed over time. Such sources bring new perspectives and can be used to paint a more accurate – and informed – portrait of past and present events.’

5. Digital platforms widen access to primary sources: ‘Digitising primary sources is essential to their preservation and enables better access, ensuring students aren’t limited by factors such as geographic location when conducting research.’

‘Many digital archives offer learning centres to help orient new users with the content available, provide inspiration for research and teaching topics, and recommend best practices for searching, browsing, citing and reusing primary sources.’


Cayley, S. (2021). Five Reasons Why Primary Sources Should Be Used for Teaching. [online] THE Campus Learn, Share, Connect. Available at:

Ways of using AI in the classroom

Sometimes, the best way can be to harness AI-use in the classroom in a positive way. Two 2023 articles from Times Higher Education below cover some excellent uses of AI in research, the classroom and assessment: 

Some other ways in which faculty can utilise AI in the classroom to improve teaching and learning: 1

  • Personalized Learning: AI can analyze individual students' learning patterns and preferences to tailor personalized learning paths, providing targeted resources and materials to suit their needs and pace.

  • Adaptive Assessments: AI-powered assessments can adapt to students' performance levels, providing more challenging questions if they excel or offering additional support for areas where they struggle.

  • Intelligent Tutoring Systems: Lecturers can integrate intelligent tutoring systems that use AI to simulate one-on-one interactions, providing instant feedback and guidance to students.

  • Automated Grading: AI can be used to grade certain types of assignments and exams quickly and efficiently, freeing up lecturers' time to focus on other aspects of teaching.

  • Natural Language Processing (NLP): NLP-powered tools can assist in analyzing students' written work, helping them improve their writing skills and understanding complex concepts.

  • Virtual Teaching Assistants: AI-driven virtual assistants can answer common student queries, offer reminders about assignments, and provide basic information about the course.

  • Content Curation: AI algorithms can curate relevant educational content from various sources, saving lecturers time in finding and preparing supplementary materials.

  • Learning Analytics: AI can analyze large datasets to identify patterns and trends in students' learning behaviors, allowing lecturers to gain insights into student engagement and performance.

  • Early Intervention: By analyzing data, AI can help identify students who may be at risk of falling behind, enabling lecturers to intervene and provide additional support promptly.

  • Automated Feedback: AI-powered tools can provide feedback on students' performance in real-time, helping them identify areas of improvement and reinforcing positive learning outcomes.

  • Gamification and Simulation: AI can enhance learning experiences through gamification and simulation, making learning more engaging and immersive for students.

  • Language Learning Support: AI language learning platforms can help students practice pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary, offering immediate feedback and correction.

  • AI-Enhanced Classroom Management: AI tools can assist lecturers in managing the classroom by analyzing student behavior and engagement levels.

  • Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR): AI can be combined with VR and AR technologies to create interactive and immersive learning experiences.

  • Predictive Analytics for Retention: AI can predict students' likelihood of dropping out or disengaging from the course, enabling lecturers to implement proactive retention strategies.

It's important to note that while AI can significantly enhance teaching and learning experiences, it should complement and augment the expertise of lecturers rather than replace them entirely. Additionally, privacy and ethical considerations should be taken into account when implementing AI technologies in educational settings.

1. ChatGPT, response to “List in bullet points the ways in which lecturers in university can utilise AI in the classroom to improve teaching and learning?,” July 25, 2023, for style and content.

6 Tenets of Postplagiarism: Writing in the Age of Artificial Intelligence


View the fascinating glimpse into the near-future of academic writing in this insightful blog post by Dr. Sarah Elaine Eaton here.