Skip to main content

ANT 220: Introduction to Cultural Anthropology: What is an academic source?

Guide to help students in ANT 220 complete their first research paper. Fall 2017

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 Sourves vs Popular Sources A 3 minute video from Kimbel Library recapping the differences between scholarly (academic) and popular sources.

Scholarly Books

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

Why Academic Books/Articles are called Academic

  • Academic journal articles and books are called “Academic” because they are written by people in academia for other people in academia.
  • They are also call “Scholarly” because they are written by scholars for scholars.
  • Journal articles are also call “Peer Reviewed” because each article is reviewed by the peers of the scholar (that is, scholars in the same discipline).
  • Books are reviewed and edited by editors with extensive knowledge of the subject.

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.

Anatomy of a Scholarly Article

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 and 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 of them?  What was learned?

REFERENCES – The research of others that was consulted in the writing of this article.

For more help, see the interactive guide Anatomy of a Scholarly Article, created by NCSU, and the video at right, "How to Read A Scholarly Article" created by Western University.