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Scholarly & Peer Reviewed Sources: Assessing Books

Not All Books Are Scholarly

SMU Libraries select books for a number of reasons that are not always due to their academic merit. You need to determine if the book you want to use is worth engaging with for the purposes of your study. Things to look for:

  • Author's credentials 
  • Book's reception
  • Publisher's reputation

Types of Book Publishers

Good publishers will fact-check all claims and ensure that citations are correct.

Commercial Publishers

Many reputable commercial publishers produce scholarly works. 

  • Look for book reviews to learn how they were received by the academic community.
  • Some commercial publishers, such as Palgrave, Routledge, and Sage, specialize in academic books. Their books go through editorial review before publication and are good choices for general research.

Government Publications

The U.S. Constitution requires that the various branches of government record and publish their activities. These documents and reports should be factual and unbiased.

University Presses and Scholarly Societies

Most universities seek to help scholars disseminate their work, rather than make a profit. University presses can almost always be trusted to produce high quality work. Scholarly associations and learned societies typically can be grouped with university presses in terms of quality of their publishing output.

WorldCat: Books from Everywhere

Book Reviews

Though books do not go through peer-review prior to publication, they often get reviewed. Look for book reviews to discover impactful authors and important viewpoints.