Are Magazine Articles Acceptable Sources for Essays

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Magazine articles are usually not considered acceptable sources for essays. This is because they are not written by experts or peer reviewed (checked by other experts). They are also often too short to develop an idea, they don’t cite sources and they are often written by people with a conflict of interest. However, there are some exceptions.

Scientific magazine articles sometimes are acceptable. For example, Current Archaeology has longer articles written by experts which are fact-checked, cite sources, and do not have a conflict of interest. Articles in magazines like this are just as good as articles in journals. One of the highest ranked journals in the world, Nature, is technically a magazine.

When the author has practical experience, magazine articles might not need to cite sources. For example, The Garden, the magazine of the Royal Horticultural Society includes several longer articles. They might not cite sources, but the article will be based on experience, not book-learning. The longer articles in The Garden are acceptable sources, although they are not as reliable as books or articles in academic journals.

As a primary source, magazine articles are fine. For example, a recent article in National Geographic about Virunga National Park in the Congo might provide some well-researched and up-to-date facts and information about the area. This would provide us with evidence we can use to inform our essays. In this case, it doesn’t matter if the source has been written or checked by experts on the park, because we are only taking facts and case studies from the article, not arguments.

Still not sure if your magazine article is acceptable? Here is a quick test:

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