Not everyone is an expert on every subject. That's why you're in college, after all -- to get a degree in a field of study that will help you get a job. As you gain experience in your chosen career, you grow in expertise. You may even publish articles and books of your own! But until you're an expert yourself, you'll need to rely on the publications of those who have gone before you.
How can you tell which articles or books are written by an authority in the field?
Take note of the author's name.
- Are any advanced degrees listed with the author's name (M.D., M.S., Ph.D., Ed.D., etc.)?
- Is the author's affiliation or place of employment listed? Do they work in a field that's relevant to the subject they're writing about?
- On an article, you can usually find this information on the first or last page. In a book, there may be an "about the author" section at the end, or on the book cover.
- Workplace or affiliation not listed? Search for them in Google (hint: put their name in "quotation marks") to find out -- you'll often come across their CV or a personal page on their workplace's website.
- Have they published other articles, web pages or books on this topic, or related topics? Use our library to find out.
Save yourself some time! If you limit your searches to scholarly or peer-reviewed publications, then you can feel confident that the authors are experts in the field. Read more about peer review to find out why.