Welcome to the NU Library E-Book Guide! Use the menu on the left to navigate through this guide.
Books can provide much needed background information and history on a topic. Books are comprehensive and offer a broad viewpoint that is different from articles. Examining the history of a potential topic is important because you may find that your potential study had already been done fifty years ago. Not only are books great sources for reading about a potential topic, but they are great sources for discovering entirely new topics. For instance, you may be very interested in psychology and mental disorders, but not know much about the type of research in that field regarding how it is conducted, what it entails, and what research remains to be uncovered.
Books give that broad subject overview and mention specific theories or research areas that you may want to pursue further. You will also identify some of the key researchers in the field (books on similar topics should be discussing the same researchers). These are researchers whose scholarly articles you will want to look for later.
It is important to keep in mind that books are often not peer reviewed. See additional information in the box below. Therefore, read unedited books with caution; an edited book will list editors who are knowledgeable in the same field as the primary authors. Additionally, look for books published by university presses, as these books are reviewed by an editorial board and outside reviewers. Checking author submission guidelines can be helpful.
The sub-pages in this section (on the left-hand menu) offer various tips for where and how to find, use, and troubleshoot e-books in the NU Library.
The process of peer review generally applies to journal articles, but it is possible for a book to be peer reviewed as well. Although many books go through some sort of editorial or review process, there is not an easy method for determining whether a book is peer reviewed.
If you are specifically looking for peer-reviewed books, one method for locating them is to take a look at book publications from university presses. Books published by university presses almost always go through a process of peer review. Books from university presses are typically written by faculty members are who are under immense pressure to produce authoritative scholarly literature. The process of peer review for university presses typically involves two or three independent referees who will initially review the manuscript. If the manuscript receives positive review, the university press will send it to their editorial board, who are all faculty members, for final review. This review process is required in order to obtain membership into the Association of American University Presses. You may view the member directory of the Association of American University Presses here.
Another method for determining whether a book is peer reviewed is to locate book reviews within scholarly journals on that particular book. These book reviews may provide a deep evaluation regarding the quality of scholarship and authority in the book. You may use the Library’s Roadrunner Search to locate book reviews.
Type the book title into the Roadrunner Search box. Then select Title from the drop-down box. Click Go! to execute the search.
From your results list, look to the Refine Results area on the left hand side of the screen. Scroll down to Source Types and select “Reviews”. Lastly, check mark the box next to “Scholarly/Peer Reviewed Journals” to ensure these book reviews are coming from academic journals as opposed to magazines. Your search results will now only contain books reviews from scholarly/peer reviewed journals.
Lastly, you may want to explore titles available from the Directory of Open Access Books (DOAB). One of the requirements for taking part in DOAB is the books must be subjected to independent and external peer review prior to publication. Additionally, the policies and procedures regarding peer review and licensing have to be clearly outlined on the publisher web site. More information about these requirements can be found in the Statement on Open Access (Appendix II of the OASPA bylaws).
If you are still unsure whether the book you would like to use is considered academic, please refer to our Academic and Popular Resources page which provides a list of common characteristics for determining scholarly resources including academic books.