Skip to Main Content
USC logo

What are credible sources?

What are Academic Sources?

Most assignments require that you use information from "academic sources". What is an academic source? How do I identify one?

An academic or scholarly source seeks to clearly communicate concepts in a particular discipline such as nursing, business, psychology etc.

 There are no absolute rules! You need to exercise critical judgment.

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 tutor.

The elements of a scholarly journal article

Types of scholarly journal articles

These are some of the main types of scholarly journal articles:

  • Original research article - reports on original research about new data or theories that have not been previous published. Includes a full Introduction, Methods, Results, and Discussions sections. May also be referred to as a primary research article.
  • Review article - provide a comprehensive summary of research on a certain topic, and a perspective on the state of the field and where it is heading.
  • Case study - an intensive study about an individual, group or community in which in-depth data is examined in relation to several variables.

Comparison of journals

  Academic / Scholarly journals Non-academic Journals
  • journal articles
  • conference papers
  • working papers
  • theses
  • newspapers
  • magazines and trade journals (although some contain selected academic articles!) 
  • newsletters
  • articles that have no bibliography (a prominent exception is Harvard Business Review)
References In-text citations, Reference list at the end Few or no references, self-referenced
Author Academic or qualified professional in the discipline Anyone, sometimes affiliated with a product or practice being promoted
Appearance / Format Text based and may include tables, charts and figures, little or no advertising Advertising, glossy images
Intended audience Students, academics and other professionals in the discipline Anyone
Bias Weighs and presents all evidence fairly May provide only one view
Content Discipline specific language, includes an abstract, generally substantial in length Plain English, usually shorter articles

Learn to find journals and articles

Learn how to:

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