Answered By: Erin Mooney Last Updated: Feb 19, 2015 Views: 128
There are several clues to look for when determining whether a book is scholarly:
Publisher: Who is the publisher? Do they specialize in this field? Is it published by a University Press (e.g. Oxford University Press, Indiana University Press)? Take a look at the publisher’s website if you are unsure of their focus.
Bias: Does the publisher have a religious or political affiliation? Consider how this affiliation might affect the scholarship and/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: look for inclusion of journal articles, primary sources, and other scholarly books by experts in the field.
Content: Consider accuracy, bias, audience appropriateness, graphics/charts/illustrations. Look for books that have clear structure and organization, such as a preface, introduction, table of contents, conclusion, and index.
Still not sure? Look for book reviews of the book and see what reviewers had to say about its content. Many of our databases, like JSTOR and Web of Science include book reviews for scholarly books. You can also ask a subject librarian about the best places to find book reviews for your particular subject.