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Library Research Skills: Evaluating Books and Articles : Welcome



If your professor is requiring you to take Library Research Skills Workshops, or giving extra credit, this LibGuide does not replace a Library Skills Research Workshop, and your professor will not be notified.  You must attend an actual workshop to meet your professor's expectations.

If your professor has included a module in your Canvas classroom on this topic, this LibGuide does not replace that module. You will need to complete the module in Canvas, as it has a quiz at the end, which this LibGuide does not. 

This guide will show you how to evaluate:

  • author(s) of books
  • books
  • author(s) of periodical articles
  • periodicals

Each tab in this guide corresponds to one of the bullet points above.


Evaluation of Books & Articles

Generally, any source you locate in a college library should be academic and appropriate for college-level research.  However, your instructor may ask that you qualify or evaluate the credibility and scholarship of the sources you use in your research. Even if it’s not required, it’s a good idea to know if your sources are appropriate to use.

Think in terms of a movie that you’re considering seeing. Before paying for a ticket, you may want to know if it’s going to be worth the money. What methods would you use to determine this?  You may want to consider the actors – if your favorite actor or actress is in the movie and you’ve never been disappointed with one of their movies – that may be sufficient reason to see it. Or if the director is one of your favorite directors, that may also qualify it. Sometimes reading reviews of the movie will help make your decision. 

Do basically the same things to evaluate a source in the library. First, you’ll want to gather information about the reputation of the author(s) and the book or journal. For a book and its author, for example, you want to see if the book has been recommended and/or well-reviewed (books get reviews written about them much like movies do), determine if the author is credible and has authority to write on this particular topic, etc. When all of this information is favorable, the more credible your source. The following pages will show you how to evaluate your books and periodical articles.

Reference Librarian

Mindy Wilmot's picture
Mindy Wilmot