Q. How can I find out whether an author is an expert in the area I am researching?

Answer

To find out whether an author is an expert, follow the steps outlined below:

Explore

The first step is to find out what this person has authored. You can do this by searching Explore with the author's name, refine your search so that you are looking at only the content by the author you are researching. 

What, where, when

Evaluate what the author has written by checking to see in which journals s/he has published or which publishers s/he has used (e.g. academic, private, research institutions, government etc.) and when the content was published.

Additional prompts

You may also want to use the questions below as prompts to further evaluate their research contribution:

  • Is the author affiliated with an organisation?  Is it a reputable organisation, i.e. a higher education institution or a research institute? Is the author's profile on an institution website?
  • Is the content/output current and still relevant?  This will show you whether their expertise is current or whether they have made a historical contribution to the area of research.
  • Who is the intended audience for his/her writings?  Is the content written for a particular audience, i.e. for other researchers, students or practitioners?
  • Is s/he prolific?  How much an author has written about a certain research area may indicate expertise. 
  • Has s/he consistently written in the same research area or does the author write about a variety of subjects?  If the latter, are they in the same discipline? How do they join up, if they do?
  • Has s/he co-authored a book?  If so, who is/are the other author(s)? Follow the checks above for these authors. This step will also allow you to find other relevant content.
  • Does the author consistently provide evidence to support her/his views? How is this evidence given? Is the author consistent?

Cited Author Search

You may want to conduct an author cited reference search on a database that lists citation counts such as SCOPUS or the Web of Science.  Citations are in indication of the author's impact but it is important to note that this measure is not wholly accurate and that there are inherent biases in citation counts. See the UCL Bibliometrics Policy which highlights the problems with citations.

Google Scholar Search

Some researchers have a Google Scholar profile where you can view a list of publications.

If the author's name is underlined, s/he has a Google Scholar profile. 

Sceenshot of a search for a book on Google Scholar wtih the number of citations highighted by a red circle

Searching for a title will also show the number of citations on Scholar. These will most often be higher than the citations on SCOPUS or the Web of Science as Scholar indexes more content than the databases.

An author's profile may look like this:

Screenshot of a Google Scholar profile showing the number of citations per title

Use the same prompts given above to evaluate an author's profile and output on Google Scholar.

 

 

  • Last Updated Aug 12, 2021
  • Views 4
  • Answered By Nazlin Bhimani

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