Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Academic Source or Not?
Is the source written for a general audience?
Is the work from a commercial publisher? (not a University Press)
Can you find this publication at Walmart?
If you answered yes to the above questions, you are probably NOT looking at an academic source.
Academic sources are …
Typically written by a scholar (an academic associated with a university)
Published by a university press
Use Credible Sources
Keep these questions in mind then you do your research:
- Who is the author, and what are his or her credentials?
- Most “academic” sources are written by professors who work for colleges or universities and are peer-reviewed by other scholars.
- What type of source is it? (book, journal article, newspaper, website, or blog), And where did you find it?
- Anything you find at Booth Library or through Booth’s website is probably credible, though not necessarily “academic.” See below for determining academic sources.
- How respectable is the publisher?
- Books from university presses and well-established publishers are best.
- If it’s an online publication, who is hosting the site?
- Sites hosted by educational institutions (edu), nonprofit organizations (org), or the government (gov) tend to be more credible than .com sites. That said: always be aware of bias in these sources!
- How recent is the publication?
- New publications are preferable, depending on how you’re using them. Be aware of the contexts of composition and publication: an article about women written in the 1950s is going to have a specific historical context.
- What does the bibliography look like?
- The references will help you evaluate the source’s credibility—are the sources legit? Bonus: it will also give you new places to research.
- How appropriate is the source to your specific project?
- Let your topic, your thesis, and your common sense be your guides.
Primary & Secondary Sources
When researching, it is important to be aware of the differences between primary and secondary resources. Click on the guide below for details...