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Evaluating books and articles

Why you need to evaluate books and articles

All information needs to be evaluated based on criteria such as the reliability of the source, accuracy, bias, and the authority of the author in order to establish if the books or articles you have found are suitable for use in academic research.  More information, including questions to ask in the evaluation process, are given below.

Evaluating books and articles

CRITERIA                                      QUESTIONS TO ASK                                                                                                                                 

AUTHOR  (WHO?)

 

  • Who is the author?
  • What are the author's qualifications?
  • Is the author affiliated with an institution?
  • Is the author an expert on the subject?   Has the author published other materials on the subject?
  • If a book, is the publisher reputable - a university press, academic press or commercial publisher?
VALIDITY/ACCURACY/POINT OF VIEW   (WHAT?)
  • Are sources cited?  Is there a bibliography or a list of references?
  • If facts or statistics are given, are they from reputable sources?
  • Does it give evidence to support an argument, or refute an argument?
  • Does it cover different points of view, theories, "schools of thought"? Is it promoting the view of a certain group or organisation?

CURRENCY  (WHEN?)

 

  • Is the year of publication given?*  If a book, is this the most recent edition?
  • If it is not current or recent, is it still useful or relevant for your assignment? Some topics, for example those in health or information technology, probably require current information.

ORIGIN   (WHERE?)

 

  • Is it relevant for what you are doing?  For example, if you are looking for Australian materials, you may want to look for something published in Australia or about Australia.
  • If an article, is it published in a magazine, or is it from a refereed/peer-reviewed/scholarly journal? **

AUDIENCE   (WHY?)

 

  • What is the purpose of the book or article?  To inform or teach? To persuade? To sell something?  To entertain?
  • Is it written for the general public, university students, researchers, or experts?
  • Is it too simple, too technical, or too advanced for your needs?
  • Is it objective, or is it promoting the view of a certain group or organisation?

*  Books usually do not contain the most current information.  It can take up to a year or more between when the book was first written and when it finally gets published.

** See http://studysmart.library.qut.edu.au/module3/3_3/3_3_1.jsp for explanations of these terms

Students are expected to use scholarly articles for University-level assignments.