Parts of Typical Peer-Reviewed, Printed, Scholarly Press Books

Forward: author explains how the book came about, including problems solved, and thanking persons who assisted in complex ways and sources of research funding.

Preface: author explains the scope, method, and evidence sources of the book, its relationship to previous scholars' work, and its contribution to the current debate about the topic.

Introduction Chapter: author sets out the main argument of the book, sometimes chapter-by-chapter in a prose outline, explaining the significance of each step in the argument relating to previous work, especially competing interpretations of the evidence.

Body Chapters: author develops the evidence and interprets it to support the introduction chapter's assertions, and to illustrate their significance.

Conclusion Chapter: author summarizes the thesis, and develops consequences of the thesis for previous, current, and future research, drawing connections between the thesis/evidence/method and contemporary or future trends in research.

Appendix (optional in Humanities, nearly required in Social and Natural Sciences): author presents raw evidence (texts) or tables or graphs of evidence referred to in the body chapters.

Bibliography or Works Cited (if not U.Chicago): alphabetized bibliography of all sources used or cited in creation of the book, sometimes divided into "Primary Sources" and "Secondary Sources," and if especially large, divided by other topic or disciplinary categories (e.g., "Historical Sources," "Sociological Sources," etc.).

Index: an alphabetized list of all proper nouns and major subject verbs and nouns that are mentioned in the book, together with a list of page numbers where each noun or verb is mentioned. 

     Here are the basic rules for choosing among competing book-length print sources:
1)  Unless there is a period issue involved (they talked about this in the 1930s and haven't mentioned it since), nothing should be used that's over two or three decades old unless you have checked with the instructor about its quality, and the most recent (post-2000) books always are preferred over older ones if the next two tests are not violated;
2)  When you have a choice between university press books and commercial publishers (Scribners, Barnes and Noble, even Knopf and Basic!), choose the university press books;
3)  When you have a choice between university press books from smaller presses and those from the majors (Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Chicago, Stanford, U California, U Minnesota, U Illinois, U Indiana, and their English counterparts, Oxford and Cambridge), choose the heavy hitters because they had to pass a far more tough peer review process to make it.