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Public Administration: Evaluating Books

How to get started on your research
Subjects: Social Sciences

Books

Specific Sources: Books

At first glance

By glancing at the first few pages of a book, you can easily find information to begin evaluating it. This information may include:

Author's name

  • Remember, knowing who wrote the book, and information about them, can help you determine if the information is reliable.

Date it was published

  • Keep in mind that depending on your topic the age of the material may be important.

Publisher

  • Publishers may include university presses, large commercial publishers, non-profit organizations, and others.
  • Knowing who published the work can indicate the reliability of the information. For example, if the publisher is a university press the material is usually scholarly.

Edition or revision

  • Later editions include updated information on the topic and may indicate that the work has become a standard source in the field of study.

 A Closer Look

By taking a closer look at the book, you can find additional information to help you evaluate it.

Is there a bibliography or footnotes?

  • A detailed bibliography or footnotes can help you determine the accuracy and thoroughness of the work.
  • The author's sources might also be useful for your research.

For what audience was the book written?

  • Was it written for the general public or for a scholarly audience?

Do the contents indicate that the book contains the information you need?

  • Look at the table of contents which will be at the beginning of the book, or at the index which will be at the end, to determine if the information that you need is in the book.

Social Sciences Librarian

Deborah Abston's picture
Deborah Abston
Subjects:Social Work, Criminology & Criminal Justice, Public Affairs, Journalism & Mass Media, Community Resources & Development
Contact:
ASU Libraries Downtown Phoenix campus
UCENT Building
Lower Level
602-496-0307