Whatever kind of paper you’re planning to write, you will have to apply proper academic research. In general, academic research can be considered a kind of open discussion that keeps on evolving. As you write your essay or

even a habilitation, you add to the discussion with your current findings. To make it a believable addition to the current status in your field, the sources you cite need to be as believable. You wouldn’t consider an article from a tabloid a believable source, do you?

The aim of academic research

Academic research isn’t just part of your studies at university. You do have to write a couple of papers until you eventually graduate. Though, none of them serves only as paper that will be graded. Think about it this way: you choose a particular field to study because it interests you. Let’s claim you’ve chosen to study biology since you can’t seem to get enough of it. You’re fascinated by those various biological processes and what to learn more about. Truth be told, there’s no area in the world in which you’ll ever be done learning. There will always be new insights.

Therefore, the aim of academic research isn’t just to write a new paper for the sake of writing it. It reflects your desire to learn more in your chosen area. Moreover, you have a desire to make something new and useful available to the world. To be a recognized specialist or rather expert in your area, you need to publish your findings.

There are sources you can use - and some you can’t

Most people who want to write a new essay somehow magically end up on Wikipedia. While you can use Wikipedia as a starting point to lead to usable sources, Wikipedia itself isn’t considered credible. Whenever you have a question, Wikipedia seems to be the way to go. However, not even at school, you can get through with a paper you wrote on the basis of Wikipedia. The reason is rather simple: anyone can edit and alter the published articles on Wikipedia. None of these articles needs an academic reference and the content is often false. Neither requires any content on Wikipedia a peer review that could evaluate it. As a result, you can’t ever use Wikipedia as a source for academic writing.

Wikipedia can be compared to so-called popular sources. Popular sources include any content that is supposed to be read by the everyday person. As such, this area would cover newspaper articles like also your tabloid or random magazines. Surely, the journalists who wrote those articles have done quite a bit of research themselves. However, they rarely are experts within the various fields. As another downside for articles in the news or magazines, they often contain quite some personal opinions and comments. Those articles are only meant to inform or educate a broader audience. Especially in regards to ‘educating’ most media are paid to publish certain content. That content supposedly is the ultimate truth, but actual studies would say otherwise.

A trade-in magazines

Similar to every other magazine, specialist magazines aren’t considered a scholarly resource. While there are magazines focusing on all sorts of special content, be it economics or chemistry, they are very similar to articles in any other paper. None of the content was written by an expert, maybe you’d be lucky sometimes. Otherwise, the content is also written just by a journalist. Journalists are very good at research, but not from a scholarly viewpoint. They gather information and wrap it up in a nice package for the reader to understand. Hardly ever will a scholarly source be cited and those experts they interview may not even be real experts. Additionally, professional magazines are always tainted in personal belief and commentary as well.

The better sources are of scholarly quality

News and magazines may benefit from editorial revision, but none of them is peer-reviewed. This is the term you’d want to look for during academic research.
The important difference of peer-reviewed material

Peer-reviewed papers or publications are given a higher standard, let alone for the quality check. Before you’d publish an academic paper or article, it’d go through a board of other experts within your field. All of them take a look at what you’ve written. If they attest to it that you’ve done a good job, they deem it worth publishing. In other words, the paper is checked for appropriate sources as well as astringency. It does prove the material is from a credible source. Only does a peer-review not guarantee the accuracy of the published paper.

Credibility is key

If you want to write an academic paper you have to gather credible sources. Such credible sources are, again, experts. Papers of other experts contain a certain structure that can be used for your own discussion. Usually, you’d have your own argumentation during which you show proof of Expert A and why the findings of Expert B may not apply. Of course, no expert will ever share the same opinion, but that’s not what scholarly sources are about. A scholarly source is by someone who’s studied a certain area for years himself. With all the titles he’s earned during his academic career he’s considered credible.

How to find scholarly sources

The best bet for scholarly sources always is the library at the university as well as academic journals. However, no university in the world could hold all the information that’s available these days. Keep in mind, your university library only has that much space for books and academic magazines. For the best overview, you benefit from databases for academic research. You can narrow down the results of such databases for peer-reviewed material. In the end, you have to determine whether a source can be considered credible or not. It’s best to look at each scholar personally to discover possible inconsistencies before you decide to include his findings. Researching several experts is part of academic research, is it not?