From your research assignment:
"Students must use a minimum of 5 (FIVE) academic / peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters, and books in addition to any required course readings that you may want to use."
What is an "academic source"?
Academic sources include scholarship which is published in peer reviewed journals or books published by academic presses. These sources usually are written by people who hold PhD degrees in their area of specialization and who are employed at higher education institutions.
Research reports from non-governmental organizations are also of academic value because they describe original research conducted by experts (often PhD-holding) who are not employed at an academic institution but who are situated in a particular environment. For an academic essay, these reports must be supported by scholarly sources.
What is a "peer reviewed journal"?
This is a journal where articles are submitted for a review by specialists in the discipline prior to being published. The "peer" reviewers and the authors do not know each other and reviewers are not paid to do this work. The intent is to guarantee that only the best possible research is published.
What this means to you
For any resource that you wish to use, be critical about it! Ask questions. Consider who the author is, and what is the purpose of the author in conducting this research. Who publishes the source? Can you guarantee that it has not been altered from the original? What sources did the author use?
When you are new to a discipline, it can be difficult to know which sources can be trusted. Verifying that resources are included in the library catalogue or are designated as "peer reviewed" in subscribed databases of resources will reduce the risk of trusting bogus sources.
You can find out the status of a journal by looking it up in UlrichsWeb.
Dissertations and theses are valid academic sources. You may wish to confirm the use of documentary films, government documents, maps, conference proceedings and web-accessible research publications from non-academic organizations with your instructor or teaching assistant prior to using them.
Many journals, peer-reviewed or otherwise, publish book reviews. Although book reviews may be designated as peer reviewed in the databases, they are NOT peer reviewed. Book reviews are usually short descriptions of the content of the book. The analysis is limited and may at times be emotional.
Book reviews are designed to make you aware that these books exist and if they seem interesting to you, seek out and use the book directly or at least confirm the use of a book review with your instructor or TA.