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How can I determine if an author is credible?

Last Updated: May 15, 2013  |  13842 Views
Topics: Articles, Books, Web

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The credibility of an author is very important in determining the quality of sources you have located and are thinking of using for your research project.  There are several ways of determining if an author is credible depending on the type of source.  However, the strategies used for books, articles and websites can also be used for other types of sources.

If you want to determine if a book author is credible, check the foreword/preface/introduction and back cover of the book.  These sections usually provide information on the author's expertise.  Also check OneSearch to find other books and articles the author has written on the topic or related topics, or look for biographical information about the author.  OneSearch can also be used to find book reviews for the book you are using.

Articles can present more of a challenge.  First determine the type of publication the article appeared in.  Is it a newspaper or magazine?  These are considered popular sources and are geared to a general audience.  Articles are usually written by journalists employed by the publication.  Is it an academic journal? Academic journals are written for experts in an academic field and the articles are contributed by scholars who are considered experts.  An author of a scholarly (or academic) article will usually include his/her credentials or affiliations.  You will also see references (footnotes, endnotes, etc.).  Check to see if the author has written other articles on this topic by searching in an appropriate article database.  And search Google Scholar for the author and article.  Google Scholar provides a feature that will tell you how often the article has been cited by others (a high number of citations is a good indicator that the author is credible).  Another feature in Google Scholar is the ability to link to an author's profile.

Websites prove the most challenging as they do not give much information about authors or creators.  First check to see if there is an author listed on the site.  Then check to see if there is an "About Me/Us" link.  You should also check to see that the website is updated regularly and who hosts the website (a .com, a .edu, .gov?).  You may also want to search the web for the author.  And again, you can also search the online library catalog and Research Databases to see what else the author has written.

To get to OneSearch or any of the other databases in Hofstra's Library, go to the Library homepage (  The default search is OneSearch but you can also click on the green Research Databases tab to get to another database.

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