Identifying Academic Resources

Many students, especially those in high school sometimes need help identifying academic resources. Often they make the mistake of thinking that anything found on a popular search engine is quality information. While for many high school papers this may be enough, it will not work for college. It is important that students, whether in high school or those just beginning college learn how to identify academic resources.

There are some things that scholarly or academic resources have in common. These are:

•They are peer reviewed: Academic resources are generally assessed by experts in the subject matter being written about. These reviewers will then decide whether the article is ready to be published based factors such as the level of research, quality of writing and what new it adds to existing material. Peer reviewed material is also called refereed material.
•The language is academic or technical, that is, should be easily understood by persons in the field of study but not as light as would be found in popular magazines and blogs.
•It must be published in a scholarly format or other recognized information source such as a university website. Scholarly resources, especially if they are secondary sources also have a bibliography to show where information was taken from.

Academic resources are generally geared towards a specific niche or audience. While some books, journals, papers, newspapers and documents may be produced by a university they may not technically be academic resources. Some material is meant for the general public such as the Encyclopedia Britannica, but they are not really academic resources even though they may meet some of the criteria.

Knowing which academic resources are best for current, up-to-date information is also important. When it comes to finding recent data, journals and newspapers are at the top of the list. This is especially so for those available in electronic formats or on online.

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