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ANT 101: Honors Introduction to Anthropology: What is an academic source?

A guide to help with the research assignments in ANT 101. Fall 2017.

Academic Articles

Academic Articles:

  • Are written by subject experts (professors, researchers or other scholars).
  • Go through peer review, a rigorous review process by other experts in the discipline (peers) before they are approved for publication.
  • Are written to inform other scholars of original research or experimentation in the discipline.
  • Are written in a more specialized or technical language and follow a particular format.
  • Are lengthy.
  • The journals are generally available only by subscription.
  • The journal covers are usually subdued.


Scholarly articles in the sciences follow a particular format. You may not always see every part labeled, but the content will include the following:

Abstract - a summary of the article.

Introduction - a brief explanation of the research topic and why this particular research was performed.

Materials & Methods - How the research was performed.

Results - The results of the research, an explanation of what happened.

Discussion or Conclusion - What do the results mean? What is significant or important ? What was learned?

References - The research of others that was consulted in the writing of this article.

What Academic Journals look like

Academic journals are collections of articles written by subject experts. The articles go though a rigorous review process by other experts in the subject before they are approved for publication. Academic journals generally have a subdued cover .
Popular journals will have a colorful cover designed to draw people in. The articles are written by knowledgeable people for the general public. They are published with very little review.

Scholarly/Academic Books

Scholarly books look like any other book. Scholarly books are generally distinguished by the author's credentials and the publisher:·      

Does the author hold a position in a university or a recognized research organization relevant to the discipline?

Is the publisher an academic publishing house (such as Sage or John Wiley & Sons or Routledge, or is it a university or a research organization or a professional body producing research?

Are footnotes or references cited provided in the book?

Popular Articles

Popular Articles:

  • Are written by journalists or reporters.
  • Are written to inform, to persuade, or to entertain.
  • Are written for the general public.
  • Usually do not contain bibliographies.
  • The journals can be purchased at a grocery store.
  • The journals have glossy colorful covers.

Academic (Scholarly, Peer Reviewed) vs Popular Articles: Understanding the Difference

Academic (Scholarly, Peer Reviewed) Articles
·  Are written by professors, researchers or scholars;
·  Are written to inform other scholars of original research or experimentation;
·  Are written in more specialized or technical language;
·  Have footnotes or bibliographies;
·  May contain research findings or data;
·  Are generally available only by subscription;
·  Are lengthy.

Popular Magazine or Newspaper Articles
·  Are written by journalists or reporters;
·  Are written to inform, to persuade, or to entertain;
·  Are intended for a general audience;
·  Usually do not contain bibliographies;
·  Can be purchased at a grocery store;
·  Have glossy covers.