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Evaluating Sources: Evaluating Books

Evaluating Books

Here are a few additional considerations when evaluating books for your project.

Authors: Look for background information about the author, such as educational experience, previously published research, or whether an author has been cited in other research. You can often find biographical details and affiliations for the author in the book itself. 

Bibliographies: Look for a bibliography in your book or look for your book in a bibliography.  Scholarly, well-researched books will include bibliographies or lists of consulted source materials used.  You might also come across a bibliography through which you find a book you might consult for your project.

Publishers: Who published the book?  If your publisher does not fall under a category below, it may still be scholarly.  However, you may want to look closely at other criteria in this guide to make further determinations.

  • University Presses: These publishers are affiliated with a university and considered to be highly reputable, e.g. Northwestern University Press, Oxford University Press.
  • Commercial Publishers: There are many commercial publishers that publish scholarly books, but not all do. Examples of scholarly, reputable commercial presses 
  • Professional or Trade Associations, Research Centers, or Institutions: Organizations that publish materials written by experts in a field or subject, e.g. American Philosophical Society, American Management Association, International Food Policy Research Institute.
  • Government (International, US, State or Local): Government publications are considered to be unbiased and authoritative, e.g. World Health Organization, U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO), Illinois State Board of Education, City of Evanston.

The above content is adapted from Colorado State University Library's page "How to Evaluate Books"