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English Composition 112 (Wayne College): Evaluation Workshop: Authority

Authority

In general, for all formats:

  • Who is responsible for the intellectual content? Consider authors, publishers, producers.
  • Does the publisher produce other resources on this topic?
  • Is the author credible or an authority on the topic?  
    • How do you know if someone has authority or credibility? Think about what makes someone an expert on a particular subject. Look for credentials, keeping in mind which credentials you would consider most valuable in judging expertise on this topic.
      • Do they have advanced education in the discipline?
      • Have they been working in the field for many years?
    • Do many others consider the author to be an authority? For example, have you found that other sources quote this author?
  • Search the catalog and periodical databases to determine what else the author has written, or look up the author in the Gale Biography in Context database.

For books:

  • Look for author(s) credentials on cover, flaps, or back of the book, or in the introduction.
  • Locate reviews of the book.  A well-written professional review will address the authority of the author.
  • If the book is very new, reviews may not be readily available.  Locate reviews of other books written by the author (if there are any).
  • Is the publisher an organization, publishing house, vanity press, university press, or is it self-published?
    • University presses tend to publish books or journals with articles who are recognized experts in their fields.
  • Look at the publisher’s website to see if any additional information is provided about the author.

For periodical articles:

  • Is the author listed or is the article not signed or anonymous?
  • Is the author a well known authority on the topic covered? Has the article been cited by other authors (use a citation index)?
  • Are the author’s credentials listed? Scholarly articles may include the author(s) degrees and additional authority information.
  • Search the catalog and periodical databases to determine what else the author has written, or look up the author in the Gale Biography in Context database.
  • Locate reviews of books written by the author (if there are any).
  • Look at the periodical itself: Is the publisher an organization, publishing house, vanity press, or university press?
    • University presses tend to publish books or journals with articles who are recognized experts in their fields

For websites:

  • Is the responsible party an individual, an organization, or a company? How do you know? Examine the URL closely.
    • If no author is listed, break down the web address to determine responsible party
  • What do you already know about the author or responsible party?
  • Look for information provided on the site under the “About us” or “Our company” or “Our Mission” portion of the website
  • Is there contact information provided for the author or responsible party?
  • If it is an organization or association, look it up in The Gale Directory Library online database
  • If it is a company, do a company search in Business Source Complete (online database).
  • Who owns the domain? Enter the URL in a domain registry: Allwhois: http://allwhois.org/.

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