Academic Sources for Essays



This page contains important information about the types of academic sources you should use for your projects.  If you have a source that is not included in this description, you can still use it in your paper, but it WILL NOT fulfill the academic source requirement.  Remember that your individual project must refer to two outside academic sources that we have not used in our class (i.e., textbooks and additional readings don’t count towards this requirement, although you can still use them).  Check how to evaluate online sources for more information on how to distinguish academic/scholarly sources from popular sources.  If you have any doubts or concerns about any of the sources you want to use in your paper, make sure that you contact me well before the final version of your paper is due.  I will gladly help you figure out what to incorporate in your paper.  One last note: Remember that your outside sources should not take over your essay.  In other words, make sure you focus on developing your own ideas and refer to other experts only to provide evidence to support your analysis.  Your essay shouldn’t read as a summary of what others have said, but as your own argument and ideas.


In general, academic/scholarly sources have the following characteristics:

q They are written by a specific author or authors.  In other words, scholarly sources specify who their authors are.

q They contain a title.

q They are roughly a minimum of 10-30 pages in length.

q They contain an extensive bibliography.

q They are published in peer-reviewed journals or by scholarly publishers.



· Academic (non-fiction) books or chapters from those books.

· Articles (not abstracts or reviews) from academic journals or quarterlies.

· Some academic articles from academic web sites (i.e., those related to universities sites).  The URL should contain “.edu” in it.  Some “.edu” web sites and pages could be counted as academic, but you should first show those to me and get my permission.

· Articles (not abstracts or reviews) from EBSCO, JSTOR, or Project Muse.





· Books and articles we use in class.

· Abstracts, book reviews, and most introductions to fictional works (regardless of where they are published).

· Cliff Notes, Spark Notes, and similar online or printed references.

· Textbooks.

· Anthologies.

· Non-academic web pages.

· Fiction books (novels, poetry, and drama).

· Newspaper articles or articles found in popular magazines or magazines such as Time, Newsweek, BusinessWeek, U.S. News and World Report.

· Encyclopedias, Wikipedia entries, and other reference works.  (Please, avoid these in your college essays).

· Dictionaries.  (Avoid including dictionary definitions in your college essays.  You should be able to define terms and ideas in your own words).

· Movies and TV shows.

· The Bible, the Qur’an, or any other sacred/religious text.