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Credible sources: Examples

Many different sources have been discussed so far. In doing so, intended audience and publishing method were the angles we explored. In the diagram below the intended audience dimension is plotted against the traditionally/non-traditionally published dimension. The resulting matrix provides a framework for identifying nine different source type categories. All of these categories include documents that may be helpful in some way, provided that you choose carefully. An essential tool in selecting appropriate sources is the CRAAP test. 

Source type categories

The table below includes examples for all identified source types that are credible and may be useful for your purpose. 

  Popular Professional Scholarly

Traditionally published:

Good for current information about international and national events. Stick to their news reporting and avoid opinion pieces/columns. Note that newspaper articles typically lack depth and background information.
Ex.: de Volkskrant; The Guardian, The Times, The New York Times.
Designed to be easy to read, which can make them a good starting point when first trying to understand a topic.
Ex.: New Scientist, The Economist. 

Professional journals
These cover new developments in a particular profession or industry, and publish brief reports on research as well as feature articles that focus on topics of interest to professionals in the target community.
Ex.: Consumer Marketing, Adweek.

Scholarly journals
In most fields (including economics and the social sciences) scholarly journal articles are considered to have the highest scholarly value of all source types. They contain the most-up-to-date research in a given field. Note that non-traditionally published sour es, such as conference papers, research reports and working papers may provide even more current information.
Ex.: article from Nature Communications: 'Evaluating the economic impact of water scarcity in a changing world'. 
Other journals include: 
Journal of Social Economics, Sex Roles, Journal of Religious History.

Traditionally published:


Like popular magazines, popular books can be useful for familiarizing yourself with a subject. Choose (non-fiction) books dedicated to a 'serious' subject.
Ex.: 'This is your brain on music: The science of a human obsession'.


Professional books contain reliable and in-depth information, such as best practices (documented strategies and tactics employed by top-performing organizations and companies). Choose recent books, as information from professional books gets outdated fast.
Ex.: 'Mental health in the workplace: Strategies and tools to optimize outcomes'.

Scholarly books
Very important in the humanities and theology. 
Ex.: 'Emotions in late modernity'.


Non-traditionally published (or: grey literature sources) 

While typically not used in academic papers, these sources can be useful. They don't assume prior knowledge of a subject area - for this reason, they are often very helpful to read if you don't know a lot about your subject yet. 
Here are a few examples:

News sites
Ex.:, the Washington Post website). Note that a newspaper's website is NOT the same as the digital version of a print newspaper. Ex.: 'Why treating Covid-19 with drugs is harder than you think'. 
Short documents that provide facts and key points about a topic in a clear, concise, and easy-to-understand way.
Ex.: a factsheet on measures against tax avoidance and tax evasion (Dutch government's website).
Produced by governments, (nonprofit) organizations, corporations, or think tanks on specific topics or issues. 
Ex.: World Alzheimer Report 2020.

Ex.: 'Myles Allen on understanding climate change'.

Social media
Facebook, Twitter. The value in social media content is in the immediacy of the information. You need to follow-up information from a reputable source!
May not be considered an acceptable resource (as it has very weak quality control). Use it if you want just an initial broad overview of a topic, but don’t cite Wikipedia in your paper.

These sources can be just as useful as its formal counterparts. 
Here are a few examples:

Profession specific websites
There are many websites dedicated to every profession/trade. To make sure you find high-quality information, preferably choose websites of professional associations (organizations that represent the interests of a particular job field, such as the Dutch Association of Psychologists [NIP]). 
Ex.: American Accounting Association.
Professional/trade blogs
Provide information about the latest developments within a profession or trade.
Ex.: Consultants Network's blog
Professional/trade podcasts
Ex.: 'The future starts now', available on the Forrester website.
Annual reports
Comprehensive reports on a company's or organization's activities throughout the preceding year.
Ex.: Unilever Annual Report and Accounts 2020.
Industry/market reports
Comprehensive accounts of a particular industry or market. Industry/market reports may include information about the industry's/market's competitive landscape, trends, key competitors, and industry/market size. 
Ex.: 'Online retailing: How to navigate the new normal'.
Industry blogs
Ex.: Manufacturing and QC blog: 'Amazon is estimated to become the largest retailer in the U.S.'.


Although generally not subjected to rigorous quality control sources that fall into this category can be valuable. 
Here are a few examples: 

Working papers
'Working' versions of scholarly journal articles, often released on dedicated websites so that other academics can comment on them before they are published.
Ex.: working paper available on the website of Tilburg University.
Research reports
Documents that describe a research study from start to finish. A report may also be a precursor of research that is later published in a scholarly journal. 
Ex.: research report published by IZA Institute of Labor Economics.
Conference papers 
Scholarly papers presented at a conference. Recent conference papers present the latest research and advancements in a field. 
Note that conference papers may also be traditionally published in book form or in a journal. These papers have usually undergone peer review.
Ex.: conference paper available on the website of the International Food Policy Research Institute.
Academic blogs
Ex.: Oxford Science Blog: 'Why we must expand newborn screening'.
Academic podcasts
Ex.: 'Methodological innovation in digital arts and social sciences'.

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