To determine if a source published in an academic journal is appropriate for your research, the first thing to do is to search for a list of references. You can usually tell the difference because academic articles will have citations to their sources and a list of references. The term academic generally means that the source has been “peer-reviewed”, which is a lengthy editing and review process carried out by academics in the field to verify its quality and validity. To determine if your source has been peer-reviewed, you can research the journal in which the article was published.
Try visiting the journal's website and finding information about its submission and review guidelines, or search for the journal's title in UlrichsWeb's global serial publication directory for more information on this subject. Not all articles published in a peer-reviewed journal have gone through the peer review process, so you'll have to analyze the journal's publication process and evaluate the article itself. Look to the left of the title and, if you find the icon of a referee shirt, it means that the journal has been peer reviewed or refereed.