Evaluating Information

eBooks Overview

What is an eBook?

An eBook is, quite simply, an electronic book. eBooks can be both converted from physical books (scans, copies, etc.), or born digital, meaning that they were created as a digital file (most modern books).

Are eBooks Scholarly?

This is a tough question. eBooks can be scholarly sources, but not all eBooks are. One of the easiest ways to check whether an eBook is scholarly or not is to see who published it. Self-published books may not be considered scholarly sources, while a guide published by the American Medical Association would be considered scholarly.

How to Evaluate an eBook

Evaluation Tips

To evaluate an eBook, review the following elements:

  • Publication date
    • How recently was the eBook published? In certain subjects like history, older material may be acceptable, but for subjects like medicine, more recent books are preferable since new information is discovered constantly. 
  • Author(s), editor(s), sponsoring institution/organization
    • Who published the eBook? What are authors' credentials? Are they qualified to write on the topic?
  • Publisher
    • Was the eBook self-published, or was it published by a recognized publishing entity? Was it published by an organization with bias or an agenda?
  • References cited
    • Does the eBook have references or data to back up the authors' claims?
  • Purpose
    • Consider why the eBook was written. Is it meant to inform, persuade, entertain, or does it have another purpose?