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Information Literacy: Academic Information

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Academic Literature

Academic literature refers to publications written by and for academics.

Academics use these publications to inform each other of their research results, discuss the significance of the results, 
and to formulate hypotheses and theories to stimulate further research.

These 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 please visit the 
Academic Communication skills portal of the University of Groningen Language Centre.

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, less 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.

Publications for Trade and Professionals

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 organisation
  • 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.

Film about Scholarly vs Popular information