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How to evaluate books

Authority/authorship

  • Who is the author and what is their expertise in the subject area?
  • Do they have any professional affiliations?
  • Is their work experience or education relevant? Are any of their other publications relevant?

Currency/timeliness

  • When was it published?
  • Is the information still relevant?
  • Has the book been updated? Is there a more recent edition?

Coverage/relevance

  • Is the book relevant to your topic?
  • Does it have the depth you require?
  • Review the table of contents and the index to confirm the information you require is covered in the book and to what extent.

Purpose/audience

  • What is the author’s motivation?
  • Who are the intended readers? The content will vary depending on the book’s targeted audience. It could be very general and introduce the readers to a subject. Conversely, the content could be very specific, aimed at other scholars in the field.

Accuracy/documentation

  • Is there a bibliography or list of references?
  • Can you identify research data?
  • What was the editorial process?
  • Is this information reliable?

Objectivity/thoroughness

  • What perspectives are given, or ignored?
  • Be alert for bias. The author may represent only one side of a topic or argument.

Research provides evidence and drives the conclusions reached by the author.

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page last updated on: Wednesday 22 November 2017
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