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Author's Credibility

Credentials: plural noun. The abilities and experience which make someone suitable for a particular job or activity, or proof of someone's abilities and experience

Cambridge Dictionaries Online, 2003

Do you believe everything you read? Knowing more about an author can help you judge her or his credibility.

If you were writing about the relationship between human activity and the temperature of the earth, whose work would you choose to include in your paper? Look for clues that suggest their level of expertise and/or bias.

A. An atmospheric physicist at Winston University and founder of the Science and Environmental Policy Project, a think tank on climate and environmental issues


B. A Washington Post staff writer who was written articles such as "Arctic Ice Shelf Crumbles Into Sea," "In Infrastructure Debate, Politics Is Key Player," and "President's Reform Efforts Get Results."


C. Current president of Greater Chipiwick Environmental Club, and publisher of a Web site that discusses the major causes of global warming in the last 100 years.

In terms of evaluating an author, credentials include degrees received, titles held, professional affiliations, years of activity in a field, publication history, fields of inquiry, and the characteristics of publications in which their work has appeared.


Publisher's Credibility

Similar to judging an author's credentials, knowing more about a publishing company can help you understand their potential biases. Keep in mind that publishing standards vary for each publishing house. XYZ Publishing may print anything that will bring a profit, whereas H. University Press may screen all information they publish to ensure the validity of the content, protecting their reputation.

There are several general categories of publishers:

  • Commercial publishing houses like Macmillan, Time/Warner, or Knopf.
  • University Presses, like the University of Washington Press or Michigan State University Press.
  • Associations, societies, businesses, industries, and services that publish their own periodicals, newsletters, staff training documents, operating schedules, brochures, etc.
  • Governments and intergovernmental bodies, such as the United Nations.
  • Web publishers, which includes anyone with access to a computer network and a host computer to store and deliver their publications, including the "traditional" publishing houses

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