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InfoSkills for Theology

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Scholarly communication: Books

Types of scholarly books

Scholarly books are typically written for an expert audience and intended to share research findings. Although not peer reviewed, books published by university presses or other respected academic publishers go through a thorough editorial process. 

The main types of scholarly books include:

  • Monographs [NL: monografieën]
    --  books on a single specialized subject, usually written by a single author. But a monograph may also be written by any number of authors. 
  • Dissertations [NL: proefschriften]
    -- extended scholarly works, usually based upon original research, written to obtain a PhD degree at a university (the highest level of academic degree).  
  • Edited books [NL: geredigeerde boeken]
    -- collections of articles / chapters on a subject, usually written by different authors, gathered by one or more editors. The editor edits the chapters for length, grammar, etc. and ties them together in a logical fashion.
  • Conference proceedings [NL: gebundelde conferentieverslagen]
    -- collections of papers presented at a conference, congress, or symposium that are formally published as a book. Note that conference papers may also be published as a special issue or supplement to a journal. Some may only be informally published, or not be published at all.
  • Textbooks
    -- topically organized books of reference on a certain field of study, specifically for use as a coursebook for students. They provide an overview of essential knowledge on a subject and are typically written at a fairly easy reading level.
    Textbooks are usually not considered true scholarly publications. They are a form of scholarly communication only in the sense that they transmit scholarly knowledge.


Encyclopedias are important sources to consider when initially researching a topic.

  • General encyclopedias
    -- provide concise overviews on a wide variety of topics in an understandable way.
  • Subject encyclopedias
    -- focus on a limited topic (e.g. Encyclopedia of Law Enforcement, Encyclopedia of Leadership). They provide much more in-depth information than a general encyclopedia. Subject encyclopedias are excellent sources to start your research. Use them for gaining an overall sense of a topic. 

The TiU library has online access to a large number of encyclopedias. They are listed on the library's Encyclopedias and dictionaries page.

In an encyclopedia you won't find the latest developments in an academic field.