Answered By: Woodruff Library Reference
Last Updated: Feb 07, 2018     Views: 139

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 pniversity 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.

Thanks go to the Portland State University Library for sharing their Library DIY idea with us!

Chat with a Reference Librarian:


Call the Library Service Desk at (404) 727-6873.

Text us a question to (404) 994-3366.