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News and Media: Academic and non-academic sources

Academic Sources

A scholarly or academic publication contains articles written by experts in a particular topic area or field. 

The primary audience of these articles is other experts. 

These articles generally report on original research or case studies.  Many of these publications are "peer reviewed" - it has a stamp of quality.  This means that scholars in the same field review the research and findings before the article is published. If you come across a peer-reviewed article in Primo, it will have this symbol next to it:

Articles in academic sources:

  • are written by and for faculty, researchers, or other experts in a field

  • use scholarly or technical language

  • include a full bibliography of sources cited in the article

  • has gone through the peer-reviewed process 

How to spot academic sources

Quick reference checklist to help you identify academic sources:


disseminate research and stimulate discussion


academics and the profession


sources identified


Expert vocabulary


Cover and content plain overall


Name of organization attached to author name


The page number of the volume follows from issue to issue


Published more periodically (monthly, quarterly, twice a year)


They are found in academic libraries more than public libraries

Non-academic Sources

Non-academic sources are just that; not related to academic areas or fields of research. 

Reading articles from non-academic sources can help to introduce you to a topic and introduce you to how that topic is being discussed in society.  

Articles in non-academic sources:

  • are written by journalists or professional writers for a general audience

  • written in a language that is easy to understand by the general public

  • rarely have a bibliography - rather, they are fact-checked through the editorial process of the publication they appear in

  • don't assume prior knowledge of a subject area - for this reason, they are often very helpful to read if you don't know a lot about your subject area yet

  • may contain an argument, opinion, or analysis of an issue


How to spot non-academic resources

Quick reference checklist to help you identify non-academic sources:

INTENTION disseminate information and entertain

the general public

INFORMATION sources are rarely cited

Easy read vocabulary


Lots of photos and advertisements

AUTHOR The authors may be anonymous

All issues start on page 1


Frequently published (weekly or monthly)


They are found in public libraries and in the general public domain.