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How To...Identify Scholarly Information: Author

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Author Credentials

author credentials

 

Author credentials can be:

Most scholarly - expert with advanced degree (e.g., Ph.D., M.D., J.D.) in relevant subject

Mid-level - journalist, some academic credentials (e.g., B.A., B.S., M.A.) or experience in relevant subject

Least scholarly - no credentials, no academic degree or experience in the subject

Author Credentials Scale

For a source you're considering: Where do the author's credentials fall on this scale?

0                              5                            10
 |-------------------------|-------------------------|
Least
Scholarly
Mid
Level
Most
Scholarly

 

Identify the Author: Books

Look for a brief author biography in these places:

  • book jacket
  • back of the book
  • inside the book, either the beginning or the end
  • in each chapter, if the book is put together by an editor with individual authors for each chapter

You can also search for information about the author online.  

Identify the Author: Magazine, Journal, Newspaper Articles

Magazines and Newspapers - magazine and newspaper articles typically provide just an author's name.  
You can sometimes learn more on the magazine or newspaper website -- search for the author's name to see if biographical information is provided and also what other articles that person has written.  Does the person specialize in a certain area?

Journals - look on the first or last page of the article for information about the author(s), including university and department affiliation.

Identify the Author: Webpages

Look for:

  • an author name at the top or end of the webpage
  • an "About Us" section to learn more about the organization and people involved with it