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5) Evaluate Sources: Evaluating Books

A University of Lethbridge Library guide to evaluating sources.

Evaluating Books

Just because information has been published in a book doesn't mean that it is necessarily accurate or appropriate to use in your research. Consider asking the following questions before citing a book in your work:

Authority: Can you trust the source?

  • Who is the author? What are the author's credentials or other qualifications?
  • Is the author affiliated with any universities, corporations, or other organizations?
  • Is the author a recognized authority in the relevant field of study?
  • Who published the book? Was it published by an academic or popular press?

Currency: Is the information up to date?

  • What is the publication or copyright date?
  • Is the information time-sensitive? Some types of information go out of date quickly (e.g. medical knowledge).

Purpose: Why was the book written?

  • Who is the intended audience? Is the book written for an academic or popular audience?
  • Does the author present a balanced view of the topic? Are opposing viewpoints acknowledged?

Content: Is the information that the book presents quality academic research?

  • Is the book organized in a logical and understandable manner?
  • Are the author's arguments well-reasoned and supported by sufficient evidence?
  • Does the book include a bibliography or reference list? Is it lengthy? Are the materials cited primarily scholarly sources? Are they a mix of primary and secondary sources, or only secondary sources?


Book Reviews

Many scholarly journals publish book reviews. These reviews are written by experts, and they are a valuable tool for evaluating books on academic subjects.

See our Book Reviews guide for information on finding book reviews through the University of Lethbridge Library.

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