When we refer to academic sources, we mean those which have been written by academic experts and researchers, based on their scholarly research and knowledge. Academic sources can take a number of different forms.
Your lecturers will expect you to be using academic sources in your coursework. By using these type of sources, you are demonstrating your ability to read and engage with the scholarly literature in your subject, and you are developing your knowledge of your subject area. Good knowledge plus effective engagement with the arguments and current research within your topic equals better marks!
Which type(s) of academic source you should use will depend on a number of factors. Here are some questions to ask yourself when deciding what to look for:
What am I looking for? Research studies, theory, policy, reports, statistics, or what else? This will determine what type of source you want to use.
Am I looking for the most up-to-date research? If yes, then you are mostly likely to find this in material which is published on a frequent basis, such as journal articles or research reports. Books can take quite a long time to reach publication.
Where is research usually published in my subject? This can vary - for example, within the sciences research is generally always published in journals, whereas in the arts subjects, research studies or projects may be brought together for publication in monographs or books.
You can refer to some of the previous sections of Library Matters for guidance on different types of material and where to find them: