Skip to Main Content
USC logo

What are credible sources?

As a university student, you are expected to use credible sources in your assessments and course work.  A credible source is one that is written by someone who is an expert in their discipline and is free of errors and bias. This guide explains the difference between credible, scholarly and peer-reviewed sources.

Primary, secondary & tertiary sources

Primary, secondary and tertiary resources provide different types of information.

Type of source Description Example sources

First-hand account of an event or discovery.

Source communicates original research, thought or opinion.

  • original research articles
  • literary works
  • podcasts
  • diaries
  • census and statistics

Second-hand account of an event or topic.

Source provides analysis, discussion or review of primary materials.

  • journal articles (reviews)
  • newspaper articles
  • books

Combination of primary and secondary sources.

Source provides an overview or summary of other sources.

  • textbooks
  • fact books
  • almanacs
  • dictionaries
  • encyclopaedias

Note: Source type may vary according to your discipline.

How to identify credible sources

There are five criteria to consider when evaluating information:

The term 'fake news' has become very popular in the last few years, but what does it really mean? Visit Evaluate your sources to learn more.

Why is fact checking important?

© University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia | ABN 28 441 859 157 | CRICOS Provider No. 01595D