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Understand and Evaluate Sources

Types of Sources

Below are the types of sources you are likely to encounter during your academic research.

Scholarly or Peer-reviewed Journals 

journal of international students

A scholarly or peer-reviewed journal contains articles written by experts in a particular field. 

Articles in scholarly or peer-reviewed journals, in most cases:

  • are written by and for professors, researchers, or other experts in a field. 
  • use scholarly or technical language.
  • include a full bibliography of sources cited in the article. 
  • are often peer-reviewed (sometimes called "referred"). 

View the anatomy of an article to see the typical components. 


News and Magazines (Popular Sources)

National Geographic cover

News and magazine articles can help introduce you to a topic and see how the topic is being discussed in society. 

Articles in popular sources: 

  • are written by journalists or professional writers for a general audience. 
  • are written in a language easy to understand. 
  • rarely have a references section.
  • often contain images and advertisements. 
  • may contain an argument, opinion, or analysis of an issue. 

Professional or Trade Journals

The Chronicle of Higher Education

Trade publications communicate news and trends in a particular field.

Articles in trade journals:

  • are written by practitioners in a field (educators, social workers, architects, nurses). 
  • use the language (and jargon) of the field. 


Books and eBooks 

Artificial Intelligence Marketing and Predicting Consumer Choice : An Overview of Tools and Techniques  Inclusive Education : Making Sense of Everyday Practice  Inclusive Education : Making Sense of Everyday Practice

Academic books and eBooks: 

  • are often edited by an expert or group of experts.
  • focus on the results of a research project or are tied together by a theme/subject.
  • summarize research or issues related to its topic. 


Conference Proceedings

Conference proceedings are compilations of papers, research, and information presented at professional conferences. 

Proceedings are sometimes peer-reviewed and are often the first publication of research that later will appear in a scholarly or peer-reviewed article. 

Government Documents

Government documents contain information about local, state, and federal government including laws, regulations, scientific and technical information, statistics, transcripts of hearings, white papers, consumer information, maps and more. 


Theses and Dissertations

Theses and dissertations result from an individual student's research while in a graduate program. They are written under the guidance and review of an academic committee but are not considered "peer-reviewed."