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ENGL 101- English Composition I- Doherty

Class research guide

Evaluating Books

In evaluating a book for use in a research project, ask the following questions:

WHO

  • Who gathered the included information, wrote the book’s contents, and subsequently edited &  published it?
  • Is the book’s author (or authors) a knowledgeable expert in the field?  Can you trust him/her?      
  • Who are the intended readers of the book? Are they the general public, professional academics/researchers, or high school/college students?

WHEN

  • When was the information contained in the book gathered, compiled, and presented?  
  • Has the book been updated in a revised edition since first being published?
  • Is the information in the book consistent with and reflective of recent events in the field?

HOW

  • How does the book accomplish its mission of providing clear, accurate information on the topic?
  • Are its sources available in a bibliography or resource list?
  • Does the information presented contradict other reliable sources?
  • Does the author (or authors) explain the research methods used to gather data?

WHAT

  • What does this book add to your knowledge of the topic?
  • Does it provide an overview or historical background?
  • Does it cover the details of your topic in the proper depth?
  • Does it focus on details that do not appear to be useful to your topic?

WHY

  • Why was this book written?
  • Does it advance a social, political, or professional agenda?
  • Does it attempt to project a personal point of view?
  • Does it attempt to change the reader’s point of view?
  • Does the author (or authors) employ emotionally charged language?
  • Does the book present information documented by valid evidence and allow the reader to draw his/her own conclusions?
  • Is the presentation of included material objective or is it biased in some way?        

Rhetorical Triangle

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Rhetorical Triangle

You can use the rhetorical triangle to evaluate information. 

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Author

Look at the competence and expertise of the author in the area they are writing. 

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Audience

Consider who the information is written for and whether you fit into that group.

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Purpose

Use the context of where the information is found as well as the context within which it was written.

Evaluating Sources for Credibility (NC State)