PSYC 3315 (Kelling): Psychological Thinking: Academic Sources

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

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

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.

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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.

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