4.2 Academic vs. non-academic sources

Academic sources are characterized by (a) academic authors, (b) publication in an academic environment, and (c) the contribution, albeit sometimes minor, to the advancement of scientific knowledge. Academic authors can be established faculty, junior researchers or graduate students. The quality of an academic publication has to be assessed based primarily on the medium of publication (peer review, etc.), but also on the reputation of the author’s institutional affiliation and his/her academic track record.


Non-academic sources can be government sources, corporate sources, partisan sources, media, blogs, etc. Considering the context of any given publication, it is in the first place left to the judgment of the student-author (in the case of a Bachelor thesis or Master thesis in agreement with their supervisor) , whether, and if so, which non-academic sources are acceptable as secondary sources for research. In the case of (offline and online) media sources, LBS limits the allowed sources to: Economist, NY Times, Times Magazine, The Guardian, Washington Post, Financial Times, and Newsweek. Blogs can be used under certain circumstances (e.g. academic author).


Whereas academic publications foster the advancement of scientific knowledge, non-academic sources have different publication purposes. They might still contain valid information regarding the question under scrutiny, but lack the credentials of academic sources. Therefore, secondary sources of academic quality must always be prefered over non-academic sources. The usage of non-academic sources must be justified in any case.


Last update: 16.08.2017