Read all five sections of this tutorial from "Credible Sources" through "Validity". This tutorial discusses appropriate questions to ask in order to determine whether a source is credible and reliable. As you read through the tutorial, make a list of important questions to ask. Leave plenty of space between each question. As you proceed, make notes under each question about why that question is important. Also, write down any tips to consider when attempting to answer each question.
How do we know that the author or authors are experts? We can examine their curriculum vitae (C.V.), their publication history, and the response their work has received from other experts in the field.
A curriculum vitae is a combination resumé and publication list for people who work in academia. Most people put their curriculum vitae online, whether on a personal website, a jobs website, or their biographical page on their institution's website. To locate one, you can usually just do a Web search (e.g., "G.J. Barker-Benfield" "curriculum vitae")
What to look for:
There are special (and expensive) tools that scholars can use to measure impact factor, but you will not need those. To get a general idea of how many times a particular work has been cited (its impact factor), you can use Google Scholar. Search for the author(s). Then, under the works listed in the search results, look for the phrase "Cited by" follow by a number (highlighted in red below). This is the number of times other published scholars have referenced this work in their research. You can click it to view a list of the works that cited it. Run some searches on articles on the same topic, published at the same time to get a basis for comparison.
Use Databases to Find Reviews of Monographs in Journals
A scholarly book of any significance is going to be reviewed in scholarly journals in that subject area, and whether a work has received a negative or positive review matters less than the actual strengths and weaknesses that the review identifies.
To find scholarly reviews: [if you have access to a database such as OneSearch, through your academic institution or otherwise]
Book reviews usually appear as follows in the search results list:
Most non-scholarly sources are never reviewed. You will not find reviews for websites, blogs, or the many kinds of gray literature that are found on the Web. However, many high quality
non-fiction books will be reviewed in places such as the New York Times Book Review.
When you have a scholarly article that covers one point of view about a topic, you may wish to find articles that criticize or rebut it.
To find these kinds of critical responses: [if you have access to a database such as OneSearch, through your academic institution or otherwise]
For example, if your original article is “Two Faces of Power” by Peter Bachrach and Morton Baratz, enter this:
(“two faces of power” OR (bachrach AND baratz)) AND (“critique of” OR “response to” OR “response from”)
Bear in mind that not every article receives direct responses. If you have tried several variations on the search and have not had any luck, even with a librarian’s help, you are probably better off just searching for articles on the same topic to see what others are saying about it.