Writing a book review for a scholarly journal

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Writing a book review for a scholarly journal

Book reviews are important inputs into a wider system of academic publishing upon which the academic profession is symbiotically dependent, and in a previous career advice column I argued that all scholars -- regardless of career stage -- ought to set time aside on occasion to write them.

Graduate students who are told that they should not waste their time reviewing books are being taught, implicitly, to reckon their time solely in terms of individual profit and loss. Were this sort of attitude replicated across the whole of the academy, intellectual life would, in my view, become more impoverished as a consequence.

Perhaps you were persuaded by that column and agree that writing academic book reviews is an excellent way of making a contribution in service to the profession.

If so, I thank you.

The Purpose of this guide

But perhaps you are also a junior scholar, unsure of where to start. That would be entirely understandable. This column, therefore, aims to demystify the process with a basic how-to guide for writing academic book reviews and getting them published. Counterintuitively, it is actually best to begin by explaining how to get reviews published.

There are, broadly speaking, two ways that editors of academic journals and other periodicals solicit book review writers: Proactive commissioning is where an editor seeks out potential reviewers and solicits their contribution.

Obviously, you are more likely to be targeted for this if you already have an established reputation in your field of expertise, and some journals will only publish reviews which have been proactively commissioned.

If you are keen to write your first book review, a reactive commission is probably the way to go. Some journals will publish or otherwise advertise the books they have available for review, and then it is just a matter of putting yourself forward for one of them.

You may find that particular books are deemed inappropriate or otherwise have already been allocated, but the response is usually receptive, and it should take no more than two or three good, concerted tries before you have landed your first opportunity.

What should you be writing? Some academics, including very senior ones, see reviews as an opportunity to hold forth at great length on their own strongly held views. While your readers may be interested in your opinion, they are, first and foremost, interested in learning about the book itself and whether or not they themselves might want to read it.

Bear that in mind. In fact, like other genres of academic writing, such as journal articles and research proposals, academic book reviews tend to have a standard, even formulaic, structure. All good pieces of academic writing should have an introduction, and book reviews are no exception.

Think, if possible, of a hook to draw your readers in. Even edited collections and textbooks will have particular features intended to make them distinctive in the proverbial marketplace of ideas.

If there is an identifiable thesis statement, you may consider quoting it directly. About the author s. Some basic biographical information about the author s or editor s of the book you are reviewing is necessary.

What are they known for?

writing a book review for a scholarly journal

What particular sorts of qualifications and expertise do they bring to the subject? How might the work you are reviewing fit into a wider research or career trajectory? A reasonably thorough indication of the research methods used if applicable and of the range of substantive material covered in the book should be included.

Identify one particular area in which you think the book does well. This should, ideally, be its single greatest strength as an academic work. Identify one particular area in which you think the book could be improved. While this weakness might be related to something you actually believe to be incorrect, it is more likely to be something that the author omitted, or neglected to address in sufficient detail.

End your review with a concluding statement summarizing your opinion of the book. You should also explicitly identify a range of audiences whom you think would appreciate reading or otherwise benefit from the book.

Writing good academic book reviews gets easier with experience, just like any skill. And provided you meet your deadlines and are amenable to any changes your editor may wish you to implement, your opportunities to make contributions in this genre and to the collective pursuits of a community committed to the advancement of knowledge will only increase with time.

All you need to do is take that first step.Once copy editing is complete, the review is accepted the and posted on the NACADA Journal's Book Review website.

Reviewers are sent the URL for their posted review and asked to supply contact information for an administrator of choice. In five no-nonsense steps, (1) acquaint yourself with the genre, (2) choose a good book, (3) read the book while taking notes, (4) draft and revise the book review, and (5) send your final draft off to the editor of a journal.

Book review: Writing for peer reviewed journals. March 11, the theories and practices of academic writing with the complexities and contradictions that come packaged with scholarly writing in performative times.

I thoroughly recommend you read this book. Writing for Peer Review Journals will reinvigorate your writing purpose and. When writing an academic book review, start with a bibliographic citation of the book you are reviewing [e.g., author, title, publication information, length].

Adhere to a . This handout will help you write a book review, a report or essay that offers a critical perspective on a text. In newspapers and academic journals, they rarely exceed words, although you may encounter lengthier assignments and extended commentaries.

In either case, reviews need to be succinct. Writing Book Reviews. Boston: The. The Writing Center Campus Box # SASB North Ridge Road Chapel Hill, NC () [email protected]

How to Write a Critical Book Review