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DIY How To

Is this Book Scholarly?


There are several clues to determine whether a book is scholarly or not:

Publisher: 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 their subject.

Bias: Does the publisher have a religious or political affiliation? Consider how this affiliation might affect the scholarship or content of the book.

Authority: Who is the author? Do they have credentials that give them authority on the subject? Are they recognized by other scholars in the field?

Cited Sources: Scholarly books will have cited references or a bibliography. Most books written for general audiences will not. Consider the quality of the sources. Note if the bibliographies include scholarly journal articles, primary sources as well as other scholarly books by experts in the field.

Content: Consider accuracy, bias, audience appropriateness, graphics, charts, and illustrations. Note a book's structure or paratextual organization such as preface, introduction, table of contents, conclusion, and index.

Search for reviews and literary criticism of books and articles to learn more about the background and context of the work. These reviews are usually written by scholars and provide additional information.