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What Sources Are Good for Academic Writing

November 28, 2016| Category: Writing Tips

Every time working on the paper you are required to cite sources when you use statistics, graphs, or any illustration, paraphrase information or place a direct quotation. Citing is ethical and shows respect to authors who worked hard to publish their works. And there is one more important point you should always remember about – academic writing should be based on specific sources. So, here the question arises, what sources are good for academic writing?

Young African architect working at his studio.

Identify the Academic Source

To begin with, academic sources that have greater authority and weight are preferable to others. The reason is that they are likely to be more persuasive owing to certain characteristics. First, academic sources are written for educational purposes and target students, professors, and scholars involved in subject activities. Second, they are objective, i.e. aimed at exploring the topic fairly, not ignoring alternative views. Third, academic sources are peer-reviewed, that is checked for accuracy by other researchers. Editors and critics examine educational books, whereas reviewers check articles before publishing them in a journal. Next, they are sourced, providing the reference list at the end. Lastly, academic sources are authoritative, determining the writer’s experience and qualifications. It means sources are evaluated and can be considered as reliable.

Check on the Type

To get to know which source is academic, you should recognize its type. Journal articles, books, and government or educational reports are the most common types of academic sources. They can be printed as well as found online. Printed sources usually involve some editorial process. Websites can also be useful for academic writing. However, there are non-scholarly websites that contain unverifiable material and do not even provide pertinent information, such as authors. Self-published sources, commercial websites, forums, blogs, tweets, and Wikipedia are among them. On the contrary, sites ending in org, gov, or edu, are expected to be reliable and present good reports and statistics. Therefore, you should be sure to cite the correct sources.

Distinguish between Primary and Secondary Sources

It is important to know which academic source is actually required by your university assignment. Primary sources are definitely valuable as they present direct and original evidence. They contain art objects, speeches, pieces of creative or academic writing, results of experiments, legal or historical documents, just to mention a few. So, when you need to analyze some artwork or piece of writing, please be sure to use its primary source. At the same time, secondary sources contribute to academic writing. Good examples of secondary sources can be journal articles and books that evaluate or synthesize a variety of primary sources. Finally, materials of all types should be carefully assessed for academic writing.

Use Proper Databases and Services

It’s not a secret that good research takes time, and it is better to begin it in a library database. The public or university library most likely subscribes to different databases with free access to academic sources. Truly to say, Google is not a good engine for searching academic sources, but you have more chance of finding high-quality information using specialized services, like Massey Library, Google Books, or Google Scholar. On the one hand, Google Scholar is popular among students as a page that provides them with access to many articles. On the other hand, they are not necessarily peer-reviewed academic sources. Thus, you should be attentive when wandering the Internet.

To sum it up, to find good sources for academic writing can be a confusing and even challenging task. You should identify the academic source through a number of characteristics, check on its type, and clarify whether it is primary or secondary. Moreover, many students tend to do homework using only web sources, but that’s a mistake. Nothing can substitute libraries, so make sure to use them for academic writing.


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