In researching for essays and other academic assignment tasks, you will usually be looking for relevant information in academic sources. This section explains what an academic source is, and how to identify one, as well as the related concept of peer review.
Academic (or scholarly)
The quality of a work of writing which seeks to clarify, explain and extend concepts belonging to the topic and discipline. An equivalent term is “scholarly”. Academic works include: journal articles, monographs, books of edited readings, conference papers, working papers and theses.
The following factors are characteristic of academic articles, and especially those that are peer reviewed.
Your lecturers will often require that in assignments you use information from academic journal articles that are peer reviewed (an alternative term is “refereed”). Peer review is a formal quality control process whereby a scholarly article submitted to a journal is evaluated by several recognised experts in that discipline. These “referees” judge whether it makes a sufficient contribution to knowledge in the discipline and is of a sufficient standard to justify publication. Academic book manuscripts and many conference papers are also commonly peer reviewed.
Some journal databases may allow you to limit your search to just peer reviewed articles. If you are unsure whether a particular journal is peer-reviewed/refereed, check the database
Examples of non-academic works
Articles from these publications, or with the following characteristics, are often NOT academic:
BUT, there are no absolute rules! Exercise critical judgement. It is often appropriate and necessary to also refer to non-academic publications in an assignment. Be guided by the set requirements for the particular assignment. If in doubt about the suitability of a particular article for an assignment task, ask your lecturer.