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Writing & Publishing Book Reviews

Writing & Publishing Book Reviews

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Writing & Publishing Book Reviews

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  1. Writing & Publishing Book Reviews Prepared by Kimberly Greene A CGU Writing Center Workshop Designed to Accelerate the Publication of Aspiring Scholars Across the Disciplines

  2. Strategies for Successful Publishing: • Claremont Colleges Library Electronic Journals Database~search under Subject or Journal title under “Electronic Journals” Tab Importance of Membership in Professional and Scholarly Societies— (most offer student membership discounts) • Subscription to the Society Journal • Identification of General Editor, Journal Article Editor, and Review Article Editor • Includes List-serve and Access to Scholarly Dialogue and Networking • Building Goodwill and a Good Reputation: • Engaging in discussion and contributing to the society, such as e-mail response, on-line discourse, meetings, and conferences gives the aspiring scholar the opportunity to meet and submit abstracts for reviews and articles for publication • An established relationship with the editor will build confidence and give your work the attention it deserves • Unknown authors are rarely given the opportunity to publish prior to getting a PhD

  3. Identifying Market-Sensitive Review Subjects: • Target provocative subjects and new developments & methods in research • Research the currency of new publications through the most respected Scholarly publishing houses~2013-2014 • Search for new releases and check the press releases of 2013 and 2014 • Search your discipline’s most influential journals for book reviews, not yet reviewed by your society’s journal or newsletter • Use on-line databases for access to European new releases or publications not reviewed in the American journals, for example OASPA, Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association: • Search the most prestigious universities in your discipline for new publications for 2013 and 2014 • Subscribe to the prestigious publishing houses’ catalogs, which list up-coming publications for 2014 • Pay attention to University Journal Announcements, such as CGU’s Women’s Studies Journal, which uses the list server to post books that are eligible for review and accepts student submissions:

  4. The Critical Book Review • The critical book review summarizes the content of the book, evaluating its validity and currency to the discipline through explanation, interpretation, and analysis • The General Appraisal: • Ascertain the main assertion of the publication • Identify and analyze the findings or arguments of the publication • Define the criteria, from which you will evaluate the publication • Assess the value/success of the publication, based on your selected criteria

  5. The Appraisal Specifications for the Book Review • Establishing the author’s authority: This includes the author’s educational background, his/her institutional affiliation or employer, prior writings, and his position and reputation in his discipline or field • Date of Publication: Establish the currency of the text and the significance of the date to your topic • Edition or a Revised Text: Additional editions of texts may reflect developments in the scholarship in the discipline or that the source is considered an important source • Publisher: The publisher may reflect the importance of the author and the text. In addition, it establishes credibility with the reader. for example, Oxford University Press has one of the highest reputations in the academic arena • Establish whether or not the publisher has high credibility in its field or in a discipline • Content: Examine the preface, the table of contents, the index, and ascertain the methodology of the text’s organization. Note any useful information in the text, such as charts, tables, etc. • Determine the selected audience of the text • Determine if the text reflects a bias or seems factual and impartial • Determine whether the information is well-researched and supported by evidence • Determine the author’s perspective • Determine whether the author’s stance of the subject contradicts with the literature available on the subject • Coverage: Determine whether the text supports other texts or presents new information

  6. Content of the Critical Book Review • Describe the subject and relevance of the text to the discipline and the author’s credentials or authority in the discipline • Include a brief description of the work’s format and content • Describes the specificity of the work in relation to the discipline • When appropriate, identify the author’s methodology or approach to the material • Identify any theoretical framework, the currency of the author’s argument(s), evidenced addressed, and any conclusion stated by the author, when appropriate • Indicate the intended audience, if appropriate • Mention the perspective, any bias, or misconceptions of the author, as well as any lack of evidence • Discuss the most interesting, significant, or new information presented in the publication • Include any significant additions to the text, such as appendices, charts, tables or an especially significant bibliography • Provide personal appraisal of the source (Critical Evaluation)

  7. Personal Appraisal of a Source~Critical Evaluation • Demonstrate that you have understood the central argument, the provided evidence, and the results or the discussion of the publication • Comment on the value and effectiveness of the text in relation to your own research, thesis, sub-arguments or evidence, and conclusion • Indicate any bias or the perspective of the author and if you feels it affects the relevance of the text to your discipline • May compare source to other research in the discipline • Comment on the viability of the source to your discipline or other issues concerning this topic

  8. Writing the Book Review~ • The Heading: may include Title of Publication, Author, Publisher, Place of Publication, Date of Publication, ISBN, Price • Introduction: Position of emphasis, setting the tone of the book review • an identification of the book by author and title, even though already stated in the heading. • a brief description - not a summary - of the book’s contents • notification of the book’s genre • a statement of the author's purpose or audience • a statement about the topicality of the work or its significance • a comparison of the work to others by the same author or within the same discipline • an assessment of the author’s authority/biases • a comment of your response and evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the publication

  9. The Body~ • (The length of the main body is generally approximately 80% of your total word count). • The main body of the review should logically develop your central assertion as organized by your preparation and notes. The aim of your main body should be toward logical development of your assertion and should include: • Background information: incorporate this into the earlier stages of your review to help place the publication in context and, if necessary, further discuss the criteria for judging the publication. • Summary: spend some time summarizing the main points of the book, including quotes and paraphrasing key phrases from the author. Quoted material should be put in quotation marks and properly footnoted or referenced. Mention important or significant sections in the publication or new information contained in the publication. • Critique (Evaluation): discuss what you agree and disagree with regarding the author’s main arguments or presented evidence. Focus on your response to the publication as well as the significance or relevance to the discipline, to the viability of the research or as to the results of the study

  10. The Conclusion~ • Like other essays, book reviews usually end with a conclusion which ties together issues raised in the review and provides a concise comment on the book. • This paragraph may sum up or restate your main points and evaluation or may make the final judgment regarding the book. • No new information or ideas should be introduced in the conclusion.

  11. Scholarly Dialogue and Scholarly Writingfrom Lynn P. Nygaard, Writing for Scholars: A Practical Guide to Making Sense and Being Heard (2008) • To be considered a scholarly publication, and thus part of the scholarly dialogue, your book review, article, book or essay must satisfy these four criteria: • It must present new insight • It must both build on existing insight and be usable for future research in some way • It must be accessible to other scholars, i.e. needs to be published in a journal, book or website • It must be subject to a peer review—the journal or press is recognized as scholarly—review editor or general editor sends the articles to other scholars for review, prior to publication

  12. Formatting & Revising the Review • Writing Style (Scholarly & Academic Standard) • Third person singular • Use language consistent with your discipline • Use concise and specific language, devoid of redundancy and popular language • Reviews should conform to the same tense and language • Verify the usual word count of a review in your discipline and use that as a guideline for the review • Allow time to elapse from when you write the review to when you revise the review • Check the formatting of the review against the formatting that the Publishing House uses—match this style and formatting • Read your paper aloud to check for cohesion and errors • Do not hesitate to re-organize or make major revisions of your draft • Look for a logical flow between your assertion and evaluation • Verify quotations and formatting of your references • Benefit from peer-editing or submit your review to the Writing Center prior to submission

  13. Adhering to the Journal or Publishing House Style~“House Style” refers to the specific preferences of a given journal or publisher in at least some of the following areas (Nygaard 2008) • Abbreviations • Capitalization • Foreign Terms • Lists • Units of Measurement • Currency • Dates and Time • Quotations • Punctuation • Spelling • Gender Neutrality • Numbers and Symbols • Documentation System: CMS, MLA, APA, Harvard APA, etc. • References Format • Margins, Font Style & Size • Capitalization, Use of Italics & Bold face • Page Layout: Columns • Format of the Review

  14. Questions in Preparation for Writing the Abstract or Review (Nygaard 2008) • What are the word limits for the review itself or for the abstract prior to submission? • Is a particular style guide or dictionary specified? • What is the policy on footnotes or endnotes? • What documentation system is used? • Hardcopy or electronic submission? If hardcopy, how many copies should you provide? • What size paper (A4 or 8.5” x 11”)? Margins? • What should the title include? • Where does the book information appear? • Is a short biography of the reviewer necessary?

  15. Sources Consulted in the Preparation of the Presentation References for Book Reviews • Coutts, Henry. A Concise Guide to Writing a Critical Book Review. University of Alberta Libraries. September, 2005. http://www. • Los Angeles Valley College Library. How to Write a Book Review. November, 2008. • Nygaard, Lynn P. Writing for Scholars: A Practical Guide to Making Sense and Being Heard. Sissel Tjernstad: Universitetsforlaget, 2009. American Psychological Association. Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 5 ed. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association, 2001. Carlson, Laurie. “Annotated Bibliography.” University of Kansas. 6 April 2004. Engle, Michael, Amy Blumenthal, and Tony Cosgrave. “How to Prepare an Annotated Bibliography.” 20 November 2002. Cornell University Libraries. Gibaldi, Joseph, ed. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 5 ed. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 1999. Purdue University. “How to Write an Annotated Bibliography.” 1995-2009. The Owl at Purdue. University of Chicago. Chicago Manual of Style. 15 ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003. University of Newfoundland. “How to Write Annotated Bibliographies.” Memorial University of Newfoundland Libraries. 8 April 2004. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “Annotated Bibliographies.” The Writing Center. Victoria University of Wellington. “How to Write an Annotated Bibliography.” 5 December 2007. References Consulted with a Similar Methodology

  16. A critical examination of the review The Heading & Publishing Information: Use the model of your publishing house or the “House Style” of your scholarly journal—consult models The introduction to the review needs to grab your reader, present a provocative issue that the author addresses, establish the authority and credentials of the author, and provide the context of the publication being reviewed

  17. Introduction & Body Introduction Continued: Introduce the publication, while continuing to position the author within the discipline and state the significance of the work to existing scholarship Body: State the subject and the author’s perspective or argument regarding the subject

  18. The Body of the Review Body: Inform your reader concerning the organization of the material, mentioning any important or interesting material Depending on the subject and publishing restrictions, i.e. word limitations, etc., arrange the review by chapter or select the most relevant material for an in-depth discussion, with commentary regarding any bias or new developments Include an evaluation of the material presented

  19. The Conclusion Summarized the importance of the author’s publication and its relevance to the discipline Inform the reader which scholars might find the work most useful Concluding with thought-provoking comments or observations remains ideal (The latter, not included in this example)

  20. Another Example of a Conclusion