Determining whether a book is scholarly
There are several clues that you can use to determine whether a book is scholarly. Use the following questions to assess the book:
- Who is the publisher?
- Do they specialize in this field?
- Is it published by a university press such as Oxford University Press or Indiana University Press?
- Take a look at the publisher’s website if you are unsure of its subject expertise and purpose.
- Does the publisher have a religious or political affiliation?
- Consider how this affiliation might affect the scholarship or content of the book.
- Who is the author?
- Do they have credentials that give them authority on the subject?
- Are they recognized by other scholars in the field?
- Scholarly books will have cited references or a bibliography. Most books written for general audiences will not.
- Consider the quality of the sources. Note whether the bibliographies include scholarly journal articles, primary sources, or other scholarly books by experts in the field.
- Consider accuracy, bias, audience appropriateness, graphics, charts, and illustrations. Note the book's organization such as a preface, introduction, table of contents, conclusion, and index.
- Search for book reviews and evaluate the reviewers' opinions.
Still have questions?
- Ask your instructor whether the book is scholarly.
- Contact your subject librarian for additional help.