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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 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 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 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 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 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


Rhetorical Triangle

You can use the rhetorical triangle to evaluate information. 



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



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



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)