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How To...Identify Scholarly Information

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Author Credentials

author credentials


The most scholarly academic credentials are advanced degrees (e.g., Ph.D., M.D., J.D.) in a relevant subject.

Popular sources are often written by journalists, but may also be written by someone with an advanced degree.

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