Q. How do I research an author's credibility?
Thank you for your question about determining an author's credibility.
A source being credible is an important part of finding good and reliable research. There are several different ways to research an author's credibility, depending on the type of source.
Books or e-books:
- To determine the credibility of the author, check the book in the following places: Author's note (if there is one), Foreword and/or Introduction (if there is one), and the About the Author (often found on the back cover).
- Look for information about the author's education and expertise on the topic.
- Check to see if the author has any advanced degrees in the subject area.
- Check online and see if the author has completed any research studies in the field.
- If the book has any reviews, see if the reviews are from credible sources who are experts in the field.
- Articles can be tricky to verify if the author hasn't published many articles. The first step is to see what clues are available in the article and in the publication.
- Does the author list his or her credentials such as advanced degrees?
- Is the publication a peer reviewed journal or is it a newspaper or magazine?
- Does the publication have high standards and contain research?
- Check online to see if the author has written other articles (especially if they are on a similar topic, as this increases the author's credibility).
- Try searching Google Scholar for the article and the author. One of the nice features of Google Scholar is that it tells you how many other articles have cited that particular article.
- Underneath the article will be a link, "Cited by #" which you can click on to see what other articles/authors found this to be credible information. A high "cited by" number increases the likelihood that the author is credible.
- Websites are tricky to verify. Many websites do not give much information about the content's author and some do not list an author at all.
- Check to see if there is a biography of the author on the website. Does it include the author's education?
- Pay attention to when/if the website has been updated. A credible website keeps their site updated, even if the articles are not.
- Articles that are more credible will have a date attached to indicate when they were either written or posted to the website.
- Does the author include a bibliography of sources? A list of references would indicate that the author did research on the topic.
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