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Evaluating Resources: Books

Introduction

Just like with journals, there are different categories of books. There are fiction books, non-fiction books, textbooks, scholarly books, etc. This page will discuss how to identify book reference citations, as well as the differences between various types of books.

Note: Books are not peer reviewed. While they may be scholarly and go through an editorial process, content published in books does not go through the same peer-review process that journal articles go through.

Identify books

All of the books in the Walden Library are digital. Here is an example of what a book may look like in the Library databases:

Researching social change: book icon lower left; navigation on bottom of page shows Chapters, Front Matter, Back Matter, Subject Index

 

Book reference citations can be some of the shortest reference citations that you'll see. Here are a few clues that will help you pick out book reference citations:

  • One title: There's only the title of the book.
  • Publication location: The geographic location where the book was published is included in the citation.
  • Publisher: Who published the book is also included in the citation.

 

While there are many different styles for citing books, in APA 6th, a book reference citation follows this general format:

Author. (Year). Book title. Place of publication: Publisher.

 

Here is an example:

McLeod, J., & Thomson, R. (Eds.). (2009). Researching social change. London, England: SAGE.

 

Note: Not all book reference citations will follow this format exactly. If you have questions about citing a book using APA 6th style, please contact the Writing Center.

Identify book chapters

Many academic books are collections of essays written by various people on a unifying theme and compiled by one or more editors. With these books, the chapter itself is cited, instead of the entire book.

You can tell you've found a reference citation for a book chapter when these elements are present:

  • Two sets of authors: The citation starts off with the author(s) of the chapter and later includes the editor(s) of the book.
  • In: The word in precedes the title of the book.
  • Publication location: The publication location is included.
  • Publisher: The publisher of the book is included.

 

In APA 6th, book chapter reference citations follow this general format:

Chapter author(s). (Year). Chapter title. In Book editor(s) (Eds.), Book title (volume, page numbers). Publication location: Publisher.

 

Here is an example:

Howe, D. (2002). Surface and depth in social-work practice. In Parton, N. (Ed.), Social Theory, Social Change and

Social Work (pp. 77-97). New York, NY: Routledge.

Note: Not all book chapter reference citations will follow this format exactly. If you have questions about citing a book chapter using APA 6th style, please contact the Writing Center.

 

Here is an example of what a book chapter may look like:

Chapter Five: Surface and depth in social-work practice

Identify book reviews

Sometimes when you are searching for a book in the Library databases, you'll come across a review of the book instead.

Here are a few tips for identifying book reviews:

  • Two titles: You'll see both the title of the book and the title of the journal in which the review was published.
  • Length: Book reviews are generally very short, at most a few pages.
  • Different author: The author of the book review will not be the same as author of the book.

 

Since book reviews are published in journals, they follow the same citation style as journal articles:

Author. (Year). Book review title. Journal title, volume number(issue number), page numbers. doi: number

 

Here is an example of a reference citation for a book review:

Rivera, L. A. (2014). Review of Generations, discourse, and social change. American Journal of Sociology, 119(4), 1198-1200. doi:10.1086/674233

Note: Not all book review reference citations will follow this format exactly. If you have questions about citing a book review using APA 6th style, please contact the Writing Center.

 

Here is an example of what a book review may look like:

 

Generations, Discourse, and Social Change. By Karen Foster. New York: Routledge. Pp xiv+175. $125.00, followed by Lauren A. Rivera, Northwestern University

Book types

While you may not be able to judge a book by its cover, you can tell a lot about a book by who published it. Publishers fall into three broad categories:

  • Academic Press
  • Popular Press
  • Self Published

Academic Press

Academic presses include University presses as well as textbook publishers. These publishers employ people to review and edit materials before they are published. And while the books they publish are reviewed and considered scholarly, they do not go through the same peer-review process that academic journals go through.

  • Examples: Oxford University Press, Columbia University Press, Prentice Hall, Pearson, etc.

Popular Press

As the name suggests, popular presses sell popular books; books meant to entertain. Even when they publish non-fiction books, they generally are not considered scholarly, because their audience is the general public. Like academic presses, they employ people to review and edit books before they are published. But their books are not peer reviewed and generally are not considered scholarly.

  • Examples: Penguin, Random House, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, etc.

Self Published

With the rise of e-books, self publishing has become easier than ever. Just about anyone can publish their works online. While this allows for a lot of information to be shared, self-published works should be carefully evaluated for bias and accuracy. They generally aren't reviewed before they are published, and often receive little or no editing.

  • Examples: Kindle Direct Publishing, Lulu, etc.