Evaluating Sources: Books

What makes books, articles, and other sources useful and how to evaluate them.
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Your Research Plan

  1. Choose a Topic
  2. Find Background Information
  3. Find Articles, Books, Web Sites
  4. Evaluate Your Sources
  5. Write Your Paper & Cite Sources

Why Use Books?

Books are useful for:

  • in depth information,
  • historical context,
  • overview, synthesis and analysis.

Often a chapter or two are all that is needed. The process of writing, editing and publishing means even the most recently published book may not contain the most current information on a topic.

Keyword Search in MARQCAT:

Identify words or phrases that represent the main ideas in your topic and enter into the quick keyword box.

Advanced Keyword search:

Try the words as "Any Field" searches for widest retrieval

Try the same words as "Subject" searches, then use the catalog's suggested headings

When you find a good book, check the list of Subjects  in the record of that book for additional ideas

Evaluating Books

Evaluate the quality and relevance of information:

  • Authority of the authors, editors - Determine the expertise of the authors, does it match the subject content of their writing?
  • Scope of Content - Does the content cover your topic to the degree you need? Is it in-depth or does it simply provide an overview with little facts, details, analysis?
  • Timeliness - Is the content timely for your topic. This is determined by the time period of your topic and the publication date of the book.

For help finding book reviews see this research guide: