Skip to main content

Information literacy: Academic information

Academic literature

Academic publications are written by and for academics. In these publications, academics inform each other of research results, discuss the significance of the results, and formulate hypotheses and theories.

The publications must meet certain academic criteria, and readers are assumed to have a critical academic approach. Material that is published is not automatically true; it must be ‘proven’.

Readers of academic publications must be able to verify the correctness of the content. In order to make it easier to verify information, there are agreements and quality criteria in place for academic publications.

Authors of academic publications must provide precise references to the information on which the publication is based. This is done in many different ways:

- with source references in the text

- by describing research methods used by the author

- through review by other academics (peer review)

 

Academic publications have a number of notable characteristics:

- a systematic structure, with a description of the research method used

- use of academic/scientific, nuanced language

- quantitative data, graphs and tables, original text fragments

- accurate source references

- geared to academic readers

 

For more information on (writing) academic publications go to the Academic Communication skills portal of the University of Groningen Language Centre.

Example of academic literature

Popularized academic literature

‘Popular’ academic publications are intended for readers who do not have specialist knowledge of the subject.

 The characteristics of popularized academic publications include:

- simpler language

- more examples, fewer quantitative and detailed data

- less precise descriptions of research methods

- few/no source references

- more detailed explanation of the subject of the publication

- geared to the general reader

Example of popularized academic literature

Discover (magazine)

Watch this short film about scholary vs popular information

Publications for trades and professions

Publications for trades and professions are published by the relevant organizations, i.e. associations of businesses and companies within a particular branch of industry. Their aim is to represent the interests of their members and to share knowledge and information with members.

They use three channels to do this:

- the website of the professional organization

- a professional/trade journal, compiled and published by the professional organization

- publications for a specific target group

Characteristics of these publications include:

- use of language ranging from simple to complicated

- produced for the professional work field; practical relevance is paramount

- few source references

- geared to readers in the relevant professional work field
 

These publications are not academic, but they can be highly informative.

Example of a professional journal