PSYC 3315 (Kelling): Psychological Thinking: Academic Sources

About Academic Sources

Cartoon owl wearing mortar board and glasses, reading while sitting on a stack of books

Ways in which academic or scholarly information sources are distinguished from popular and professional or trade sources include:

---  intended audience
---  rigor of the pre-publication review and
     editing process
---  level of comprehension needed to
     understand/evaluate the content
---  presence of works cited/references lists

Scholarly journals usually are peer-reviewed. A peer-reviewed (or refereed) journal:

  • uses experts from the same subject field or profession as the author to evaluate a manuscript prior to acceptance for publication
  • has articles that report on research studies or provide scholarly analysis of topics
  • may include book reviews, editorials, or other brief items that are not considered scholarly articles

Many library research databases allow you to limit search results to peer-reviewed journals:

check box for scholarly peer reviewed journals

Summary of the Peer Review Process

Image by Jessica McCullough (http://home.gwu.edu/~mccull1/peerreview.html); used with permission.

The majority of non-fiction books owned by the library are scholarly, academic works, but there are exceptions. The identity of the publisher is one indicator of whether a book is likely to be scholarly in nature. You may want to look for:

  • university presses (Oxford University Press, Princeton University Press, etc.)
  • commercial publishers that specialize in academic titles such as SAGE, Routledge, Elsevier, Springer, or Wiley Blackwell (more examples from Colorado State Univ. Libraries)
  • professional organizations such as American Psychological Association or National Council of Teachers of English

In addition, look for:

  • author credentials
  • works cited, references, or footnotes
  • formal or technical language specific to the discipline

Related Library Guide

Types of Information Sources

There are many types of information sources. The following are traditional source types often used in college-level assignments:

  News Sources Popular Magazines Trade Journals Scholarly Journals Academic Books
Purpose

- inform about current events & topics

- provide basic facts & details

- inform &/or entertain about current or recent events & topics - inform & report on news, trends, & issues relevant to an industry or profession

- inform & report on research done by scholars & experts

- cover specialized academic topics

- provide a thorough, comprehensive examination of academic topics
Author

- journalists, freelance writers, or editorial staff

- brief editing process

- journalists, freelance writers, or editorial staff

- brief editing process

- journalists, freelance writers, editorial staff, or industry practitioners

- brief editing process

- subject specialists & experts

- extensive editing process

- usually peer-reviewed*

-  subject specialists & experts

- extensive editing process

Audience

- anyone

- appeals to non-specialists

- anyone

- appeals to non-specialists

- those who work in a particular field or profession - researchers, scholars, higher education students - researchers, scholars, higher education students
Other Characteristics

- brief, published &/or updated daily

- often a good source for editorials/opinion pieces

- short or medium-length articles

- published weekly/monthly

- often a good source for features, opinion pieces, interviews

- usually short or medium-length articles

- may include brief reference lists/works cited

- usually published monthly

- specialized & lengthy articles

- include reference lists/works cited

- takes months to publish due to extensive editing process; often published quarterly

- include reference lists/works cited

- takes months or years to publish due to extensive research, writing, & editing process

 

* Peer review is a process in which experts from the same subject field or profession as the author evaluate a manuscript prior to acceptance for publication.

Based on a chart by Kerry Creelman, Univ. of Houston Libraries, which was adapted from content by Kristina De Voe, Temple Univ. Libraries.

Bayou Building 2402, 2700 Bay Area Blvd, Houston, TX 77058-1002