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Evaluating Resources: Print & Electronic

Learn how to evaluate a resource for your research.

Books: All Not Equal

Questions to ask about a book:

  • Is the author an expert in the field?
  • What work or educational experiences does the author have?
  • With which institution, organization or company is the author affiliated?
  • Has the author written other publications?
  • Is the publisher well known?
  • Does the publisher stand to benefit from the research or argument presented in the book?
  • Does the title indicate that the book is too specific or not specific enough? Is there a subtitle with more information?
  • What audience is the book directed towards?
  • Does the book address a topic from a certain timeframe and/or geographic area?
  • What sources did the author use?
  • Is the information current and up-to-date? Does it need to be?



Published books go through an editorial process, however not all are peer-reviewed. Some publishers are well-known for providing well researched books, which are highly recommended by researchers, scholars, & librarians. The lists provided here are not an exhaustive list.


University Presses – Affiliated with universities & highly recommended by researchers, scholars, & librarians

  • Identified by 'university' & 'press' in its name
    • Some citation styles only use abbreviations for university & press
  • Examples – Cambridge UP, MIT Press, U of GA P

Commercial Presses – Profit is a part of their business model, but they do strive to print well researched books

  • Examples – Harper Collins Publishers, Knopf, Simon & Schuster, etc.

Professional or Trade Associations, Institution, or Research Center Publications

  • Written by experts in the field or experts in a given area
  • Examples – American Library Assoc., Modern Language Assoc. of America, & American Philosophical Society

Government Publications – published with taxpayer money, accepted as impartial or unbiased

  • Examples – websites beginning with .gov, Government Printing Office (GPO)

Vanity Publishers – self publishers, author pays for publication

  • Check with professor before using
  • Examples – Aventine Press, Self Publishing Inc., Hillcrest Media, iUniverse