You may not be aware of this yet, but academic sources are very important to students of all ages. When you need to write an essay on a complex topic, you need to support all your statements and ideas with accurate information. And where does this information come from? Well, from various sources, of course! While there are plenty of examples of academic sources, some sources are better than others.
Keep in mind that you have to list the resources you’ve used to conduct the research and to write the academic paper in the Bibliography or Works Cited section. And we can assure you that your professors really do check your academic sources. Your grade depends on them in large measure actually.
What Are Academic Sources and Why You Need Them?
Let’s start with the beginning. What are academic sources? It’s relatively difficult to give you a very specific academic sources definition because there are many different opinions on what an academic source really is. Academic sources are just works like books, academic journal articles, and even reports written by experts that have been peer-reviewed. In other words, these resources have been vetted by an expert and are almost guaranteed to be accurate. If you are wondering “what are scholarly sources?”, you now have your answer. “Scholarly sources” is just another name for academic sources.
The Various Types of Academic Sources
When working on an essay, you can use information from peer reviewed sources and from non scholarly sources. Very few professors demand that you use only information from scholarly works. Something you need to keep in mind is that there are several types of academic sources. Here are the main resources of information you can use as a student:
- Primary sources. These are the resources that are original and that are the basis for all the other sources. In other words, these are all original written works that have been published in academic journals and publications. They can be anything from original research and interviews to court records and fieldwork.
- Secondary sources. These are works that analyze one or more original sources. They can be reference materials like textbooks and encyclopedias, books, and even articles that analyze the primary sources.
- Tertiary sources. These resources normally organize both the primary and the secondary resources. In other words, tertiary sources can be abstracts that summarize sources, indexes that organize sources, and even databases (these are basically online indexes, but they may include an abstract for each work).
But why are scholarly sources more appropriate for academic research? Do you always have to use information from primary, secondary or tertiary resources? Truth be told, it is a good idea to use these as your primary source. However, it is perfectly OK to use information from other sources as well, as long as they are credible and accurate. In most cases, you can use sources that come from experts in the field without any problems.
Websites like Wikipedia, on the other hand, are not suitable for academic research. Why? Because they are user-maintained and users are not always experts. The information you find on such sites is generally unacceptable in an academic paper.
Here Is How You Find the Best Academic Sources
There is a lot of misinformation on the Internet regarding where to find academic sources. Many companies will have you believe that the only way to get access to quality sources is to buy their subscription. Some people will tell you that you need to go to the local library if you need quality material. But it’s not that difficult. Here is how to find academic sources quick and easy:
- Start with Google. You can find plenty of free peer-reviewed articles online, as well as many popular sources. For this, you will need to use Google Scholar – which is a search engine that is designed to search only for academic articles. You can find huge amounts of academic scholarly sources there.
- Visit the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) website and use the search box to find what you are looking for. Keep in mind that open access journals are provided free of charge. You can find thousands of academic journals and various other scientific resources there.
- Try to find search engines that provide scholarly research features. Google Scholar is not the only one. In many cases, the results from these search engines will provide you with either the full text of the articles, or at least an abstract.
- Why not try visiting the websites of the most prominent academics you know? Many of them are sharing a huge amount of information with their visitors, and you probably won’t have to pay a dime to get these resources. Many professors also have PDF copies of their publications on their websites.
- If you are after laws and other policy papers, go straight to government websites. You will find plenty of primary documents there, and all are accurate and peer reviewed. It’s a great way to get academic sources online.
There are also databases from where you can download a long list of academic sources. However, in most cases an academic sources database like ProQuest, Scopus, Web of Science, The McQuade Library, EBSCOhost, or INFOTRAC will ask you to get a paid membership. And the membership can be quite expensive, unfortunately.
An Academic Sources Database You Can Use Right Now
Scholarly vs popular sources: which is the best? It depends on what type of paper you need to write and what you need to write about. In most cases, popular sources are perfectly acceptable and your professor will not have any objections. However, remember to avoid user-maintained websites like Wikipedia because the information is not accurate in many cases. If you can find high quality scholarly sources, it is best to use them. Your professor will surely appreciate it and you will most likely be rewarded with some bonus points.
Now that you know what scholarly sources are and where you can get academic peer reviewed sources from, it’s time to discuss another way to get access to the resources you need. Instead of paying for memberships and searching for hours on various search engines, why not let an expert handle it for you? An academic writing company usually has paid memberships with most databases and online libraries. Their academic writers are using these resources to write the essays for their clients, of course.
Still wondering “what are peer reviewed sources”? Need help finding the best resources on the Internet quickly? If the deadline for your academic paper is tight, you need to take action right away. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on various premium subscriptions and you definitely don’t have enough time to search everywhere for the academic sources you need. This is why your best option is to get in touch with a reliable academic writing company and ask their writers to prepare a list of scholarly sources ASAP. And the good news is that you can also get some writing assistance at the same time. If you need it, of course.