There are numerous questions you should ask yourself in order to evaluate the author (or authors) of any source. Who is the author? What are the author's credentials--educational background, past writings, occupation, position, titles, experience, political perspective? Is the book or article written on a topic in the author's area of expertise? Is the author qualified (or not) to write on the subject?

In articles, brief information about the author is often included on the first or last page. In books, information about the author may be included at the beginning or end of the book, or on the back or on the inside cover. If the book includes an introduction written by someone other than the author, some details about the author will usually be mentioned.

Have you seen the author's name cited in other sources or bibliographies? Respected authors are cited frequently by other scholars. For this reason, always note those names that appear in many different sources.

Author Information from Books, Periodicals or the Internet

Beyond information provided in the work, itself, background information on authors may be found in a variety of other sources.

If the author is an important figure or a very popular person, entire books may be written about him or her. Books about people can be found in library catalogs, (e.g. PLS online catalog) by searching by subject. (Remember to always search by the last name first.)

It is more common to find magazine, journal or newspaper articles or Internet documents about authors. To find magazine or journal articles with information about an author, use article databases. To search for any web pages that mention the author, use a Web search engine (e.g. Google) and enter the name in quotes, first name first.

Author Information from Online Reference Databases

Some additional sources of information for literary authors or especially well-known authors may be found in a couple of specialized online databases accessible through Skyline College Library. Literature Resource Center, includes biographical information on over 100,000 writers. Biography in Context provides biographical information on on nearly 275,000 people from throughout history, around the world, and across all disciplines and subject areas. (To access either of these databases from off campus, a PLS library card is required.)