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Evaluating Information Sources: Books

Library Guide

Why to Evaluate Books?

It is important to critically evaluate books to identify authority of authors, biases of publishers, currency of content, and accuracy of information.

Evaluation Clues

Use the following information to assist in evaluating a book:

Author's Background: Where does the author work, what's the author's educational experience? Can you trust the author's writing on the topic? How many other works did the author write? Is the author cited in other sources or bibliographies? Look for answers through the following pathways:

  • look for biographical detail in the publication itself
  • check the library catalogue for other works by this author
  • search sources for biographical information, such as authors' address/affiliation in research databases, websites, etc.
  • search citation databases for the impact of the author's work on subsequent research
    • e.g. a Cited Reference Search in Web of Science will find other articles/books that cite or review a person's work 

Content Review:

  • Use book reviews, such as the Book Review Digest, to search for an overview or a brief critical evaluation of a particular book. A book review helps you decide whether to use that book in your research.
  • For more help, go to Finding Book Reviews.

Helpful Guides on Evaluating Books