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Library Research Skills: Evaluating Books and Articles : Book

How to evaluate a book

Consider the following:

Is the book relevant to your topic?

What is the publication date? (Could the information be outdated?)

Who is the intended audience of the book?

Who published the book? (For example, is it a University Press? Is it self-published?)

Look at book reviews. (Was there praise for the book? Was there criticism? Is it recommended?).

Where to find the information online

Most reviews are not lengthy and appear in magazines, journals, and newspapers.  Consequently, reviews can be found in the some of the databases BC subscribes to.  Use EBSCO Academic Search Complete, Gale Academic OneFile, Gale Literature Resource Center, or EBSCO Newspaper Source Plus. to access, click the link on the library webpage or the link below. Though the manner of searching varies in each database, the best search to use is one that includes the full title of the book in one search field, the author’s last name in a separate search field, and the word review* in another search field.  In Literature Resource Center it’s best to click the “Works Search” link directly under the main search box at the top of the screen.  On the next page, enter the title of the book in the box next to the blue Search button and click Search.  In the results, click the “Reviews and News” tab to find reviews. 

Remember that some review articles review multiple books in one article.  There’s a chance that the article title may not even include the title of your book.  Nevertheless, look at the article to see where your book is mentioned and take what you can from the review, even if it’s brief.

Additional Resources

If you can find nothing in any of the BC databases, as a last resort you can use Amazon to find an entry for the book and then scroll down the page to the “Editorial Reviews.”  Here you’ll often find one or two helpful reviews.  DO NOT use the “Customer Reviews” as these are just opinions of customers who purchased the book and are not professional reviews.     

If you have access to the book, don’t forget to look for the author’s information on the book itself. This can usually be found on the back of the book or on the inside dust jacket.

To see how to evaluate a book and its author(s), watch this video.