Types of Academic Sources & How to Find and Use Them

As a student, academic sources are important for every student, whether in high school, college, university, or any learning institute. Before attaining the certification, every student must have written different academic assignments such as research papers, essays, thesis, and other related work. When writing such papers, a student must provide useful information backed up with satisfying evidence after doing the research. Now, when writing the evidence to support your point, that is where academic sources come in. Also, after writing academic papers, you must cite all the sections as you include all the sources you have used in your research papers since the professors check this requirement as well, and they contribute a lot to the grade you will get.

What are academic sources?

Writing academic papers require you to have a topic. Sometimes, the teacher can give you a complex topic you know nothing about. However, you may get the freedom to choose the topic that interests you. Whichever the case, you cannot get all the ideas and concepts from your head and write them down to bring out a meaningful paper. So, where do you get the information? You will need to check related books, websites, articles, and related materials trying to find information related to your topic. These websites, articles, and books are known as academic sources. Let us highlight academic sources examples below for a better understanding.

Types of academic sources

While researching, you can use the following list of academic sources to help you through your research process.

  1. Government documents

The government has different departments specialized in different matters. These government reports publish useful statistics, reports, data, consumer information, and such information. When collecting data during the research, such sources can be helpful in many ways.

  1. Theses & dissertations

Pioneer students had already written academic papers like dissertations and theses before they graduated. These papers are usually written under the supervision of a professional and reviewed by an academic panel. Once approved, they are then considered as referred publications, and other students can refer to such sources when doing their research.

  1. Scholarly publications – journals

These are articles written by professionals in a specific field. These articles report already done case studies or original research. Most of these articles are usually reviewed by other experts before being published; hence they are known as refereed or peer-reviewed. Such as article is a top credible source a student can use in academic writing because:

  • They are written by professionals
  • They have a bibliography and well-cited
  • They use technical or scholarly language
  • They are reviewed by other experts in the same field
  1. Books / book chapters

Most academic books are usually reviewed and edited by a group of experts. In most cases, such books aid a lot in academic research purposes. They have in-depth information a student can use to get more information about a particular topic compared to articles.  

  1. Conference proceedings

In a conference proceeding, there are information, research, and related papers presented during the event. Conferences are common in the sciences and engineering fields and are always published later after being peer-reviewed by experts.

  1. News and magazines

In most cases, these articles are written by professional journalists using easy-to-understand language meant for the general public. Reading such magazines and news can give a student a new concept and idea on how to approach a particular topic during the research.

What makes a source credible?

Now that we have looked at examples of academic sources, let us analyze what makes a good academic source.

Of course, the professor will expect you to use only credible sources with verified information to ensure you present factual content in your paper. Use the following aspects to determine a credible source to use in your research paper:

  • Author’s qualifications

An academic author for such sources should have credentials from a recognized learning institute.

  • Check the sources

All sources should have references or a bibliography list.

  • Check if the source is peer-reviewed

A source reviewed by other experts means that it has credible information.

  • Check the target audience

The type of audience will determine the writing style.


If you have always wondered what is an academic source for a paper, there you have it. I hope this article has presented you with useful facts, especially when determining the sources to use in your academic papers.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *