Evaluating information

Is this academic? Certain types of publications are more appropriate than others in an academic piece of work. It is therefore important that you learn to recognize different types of publications.

Academic publications

Research results are reported in academic publications. The writers are researchers, and in those cases where they report the results of their own work the publications are called primary literature. The quality of the research is reviewed before publication.

  • Academic articles
  • Dissertations – doctor’s dissertations, licentiate’s dissertations
  • Research reports – present academic research or research overviews
  • Conference proceedings
  • Academic specialist literature – contains academic research, research overviews or theoretical perspectives

Academic articles

An academic article accounts for research results and is written by a researcher for an academic audience. It is published in an academic journal and is reviewed by independent experts of the particular subject before its publication, so called “peer review”. There are different kinds of academic articles:

  • Original article – the research process and the results of empirical studies are described for the first time
  • Review article – presentation of research results within a certain field, analysis and interpretation of different previously published studies
  • Theoretical article – discusses and develops the theories of a given subject

Academic articles can be organized somewhat differently depending on their subject, method, and what type of article it is. An academic original article usually contains the following elements:

  • Abstract – a brief summary of the article
  • Introduction – background, the aim and issue of the article, previous research
  • Method – the choice of quantitative or qualitative method is described
  • Results – presentation of research results
  • Discussion – interpretation and evaluation of the results with conclusions and connection to previous research
  • References – all documents that have been used must be listed in the references

Peer review – refereeing

An academic journal consults independent experts in a given subject, so-called referees, to review the academic value of an article before publication. Among other things, they assess the choice of method, data analysis, and whether the results are probable. The subject experts decide whether the article should be accepted, revised or refused. This process is called “peer review” or refereeing.

In the database Ulrichsweb you can check whether a given journal practices ”peer review”. If that is the case, it has a referee’s shirt attached to it as a symbol (with the description “refereed”). Keep in mind that the information about peer review applies to the journal as a whole and does not guarantee that all articles in the journal are reviewed. 


Other types of publications

Even other types of publications can be used in an academic piece of work. The responsibility for the quality of these publications lies on a publishing house, an editor of a journal, an authority or an individual writer.

  • Research based specialist literature – the writer refers to and summarizes previously published research. This type of literature is therefore called secondary literature.
  • Literature on research methods.
  • Laws, preparatory work, inquiries, legal cases, and statistics.
  • Reports from organizations and authorities
  • Articles from newspapers, professional journals and popular science magazines
  • Reference books and dictionaries

What characterizes different types of publications

When writing an academic text you need to know what characterizes different types of publications. You should be able to determine what kind of publications you choose, and critically evaluate the publications you have chosen. Different types of publications require different kinds of evaluation. Has the material/publication undergone some form of quality review? Can you determine whether the publication is scientific or not? This is important depending on where and how you plan to use the publication in your text.

Here is a list of different types of publications (PDF)