Database searching now makes determining if an article is "scholarly" much easier because you can filter a search to give only scholarly resources, taking much of the guess work out of the process.
Nevertheless, evaluating sources is still a crucial step in the process of library research. Whether you're looking at a web page, citation, a physical item or an electronic version of a book, article or review, ask yourself the same questions. Is it a useful, reliable resource for your specific research need? Why?
There are many things to consider when determining if a source is reliable. This chart tells you what to look for in your sources.
When evaluating a book, look for these:
The date - how old is the book, has newer information be published since this book was published? In some fields, especially the sciences, information changes rapidly making older books less useful.
Edition - If a newer edition has been issued, the information in the book may be outdated.
Publisher - Books published by university presses tend to be scholarly. Also, pay attention to a trend in commercial publishers; many publishing houses tend to focus on specific disciplines, for example, Wiley publishes many books on science topics.
Content/Coverage - Look for updates or new information in other sources about the topic
Writing style - The book should be organized logically, look for an index or table of contents. Chapters should include references and citations to sources.
Author's credentials - The author's credentials and professional affiliations should be clear and obvious.
Reviews - locate reviews of the book (try Proquest, Academic Search Premier or JStor) to see what others in the field thought of the book.
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If you need an article that Canisius does not own or one we only have in print, place a request through our Interlibrary Loan Service. We can borrow materials for you from libraries across the country or scan articles we own here.