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Evaluating Sources/CRAAP Test: Books

Books

Monographs are also known as regular old books. These are books on a specific topic, and are different from textbooks. Monographs are good for focused, in-depth information.

Because of the time it takes to publish, books can contain more dated information than will be found in periodicals (newspapers, magazines, and journals).

Books are good sources for:

  • Background information
  • An overview of a topic
  • Ideas on how to break down or narrow a broad topic
  • In-depth analysis
  • Comprehensive treatment of topic
  • Specific information on a topic (consult the table of contents or index to find specific information)

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Books generally provide in-depth and lengthy coverage on a given subject. Because of the amount of time involved to write and publish, the information is not always up-to-the-minute. This is only a concern if you are researching a topic that requires the most current information available.

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Books are useful for research because they:

 Give in-depth coverage of a topic

 Often provide background information on a topic

 Are used to get an overview of a topic

 Demonstrate how a research topic relates to broader, narrower and related

issues

 Lead readers to other related books and reference sources through their bibliographies

Books are sometimes NOT useful if:

 The research topic is very new or narrow in focus.

 The book is not up to date. It can take over a year for many academic books to be

published. Use articles to find information on a very current topic.

 

Scholarly Books

Scholarly sources take an academic approach to a subject; their purpose is usually to inform and they are intended for an educated audience.

Some books are more scholarly than others. For example, a ghost-written autobiography of a current celebrity is less scholarly than a carefully researched and annotated biography of a historical figure.  

At times instructors or employers may stress the use of scholarly sources for your research project. You may decide to seek out scholarly sources for a complex or in-depth research project or for a project where you already know a lot about the topic.

The following elements indicate a scholarly orientation for a book:

  • Contains a bibliography of sources used to write the book
  • Written by an author or organization with expertise in the field
  • Written for an educated audience
  • Written to inform and to add to the accumulated knowledge in a field
  • Offers considered analysis of the topic
  • Published by a scholarly press (a university press or academic organization)

Reference Books

Reference books give you concise and authoritative information on a topic. They are often made up of articles from many authors who are experts on the specific topics. Because of how long the publication process takes, the information in reference books can be less current than that on web sites, in periodicals (newspapers, magazines, journals), or in non-reference books.

Reference books include:

  • Dictionaries
  • General Encyclopedias
  • Subject Encyclopedias
  • Atlases

Examples of Reference Books

EBooks

The experience of using an ebook is different than using a print book.  However, in terms of information evaluation, the different formats of books—electronic and print—share the same advantages and disadvantages - so we can apply the information about books and reference books to electronic books and electronic reference books.

Examples of EBooks