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Identifying a Scholarly Monograph

What is a scholarly monograph?

  • One-volume work
  • Gives in-depth treatment to a specialized subject
  • Written by a scholar in the field
  • Written mainly for an academic audience

Here's a sample scholarly monograph on a topic that you might not expect:


Example: Burbick, Joan. Rodeo Queens and the American Dream. New York : Public Affairs, 2002.

How to identify a scholarly monograph

Author information

Look for the “About the Author” page and the “Acknowledgements” page

  • Does the author hold an advanced degree or teach at a university?
  • Has the author written other major works in the field?
  • Does the author acknowledge colleagues at a university, library, or archives?
  • Did the author receive fellowships or grants that made the writing of the text financially possible?


Example: “About the author” paragraph from book jacket. May also be found at the beginning or end of the book.


Example: Acknowledgements are also usually found either at the beginning or the end of the text.

Publisher information

Most scholarly monographs are published either by university presses or scholarly societies. 

Example: Check the copyright page to find the publisher of the book.

Works cited/Bibliography/References/Footnotes/Endnotes

A scholarly monograph should have an extensive bibliography that cites some of the following types of sources:

  • Journal articles
  • Primary sources
  • Books by other experts in the field



Example: Works Consulted list in MLA format. 

Additional content

A scholarly monograph should have an index near the end of the book and most have appendices or notes as well.


Example of an index

How to navigate a scholarly monograph

  • To find out if a particular monograph might meet your research needs:
    • Skim the introduction and/or preface.
    • Read through the table of contents.
  • If you need to use a scholarly monograph to find specific facts for your research or for an exam, but don’t want to read the whole thing:
    • Use the index to look up terms related to the information you need.
    • Use chapter titles and subheadings to narrow your search.
    • Scan the text quickly and extensively to find what you need.
  • If you are reading the text for a class or to write an analytical essay:
    • Read closely. Scholarly monographs are usually much denser than popular literature and may be difficult to digest.
    • Reread passages that are unclear.
    • Read difficult sections aloud.
    • Check some of the citations that the author has listed. You might find additional sources for your own research.
    • Evaluate the arguments presented to see whether they answer your research questions, support or contradict your own research, and whether or not they make sense to you.