Sunday, February 20, 2011

Some sources on book reviews

I had to find some sources about book reviews for a class I'm taking. Actually I'm quite surprised that there aren't too many sources on book reviews. Perhaps it is because book review is a relatively low status genre or maybe I should dig deeper. I wanted to share the sources found so far. I read only some of them so far. If you know more please let me know.


Romer, U. (2010). Establishing the phraseological profile of a text type: The construction of meaning in academic book reviews. English Text Construction, 3(1), 95-119.

Abstract: Starting from the observation that meaning does not primarily reside in individual words but in the phrase, this paper focuses on the examination of recurring phrases in language. It introduces a new analytical model that leads corpus researchers to a profile of the central phraseological items in a selected text or text collection. In this paper, the model is applied to a 3.5-million word corpus of online academic book reviews that represents part of the specialized discourse of the global community of linguists. This demonstrates how the model facilitates the study of the occurrence and distribution of the central phraseological items in linguistic book reviews, and how it helps to determine the extent of the phraseological tendency of language.


Jamieson, N. J. (2006). The ubiquitous book review. Law Critique, 17(2), 201-237.

Abstract: If case-notes are considered to be a lowly form of legal literature, book reviews could come even lower. Law book-reviews, whenever themselves the subject of legal commentary, are seen to be done badly. Lacking the discipline of the legal opinion, law-book reviewing ranges between the pedantic and the perfunctory, with room for indulgence in the personal and the polemic. There are no established techniques for law-book reviewing. There are no criteria for critical appreciation. Law-book reviewing, which lacks any discernable ground-rules, proceeds intuitively without reference to explicit standards or established expertise. This is odd because the literary tradition of book-reviewing was first established by a lawyer whose concept was that of putting books on legal trial. The literary review is thus strongly grounded in legal method. The present shortcomings of the law-book review denote not only literary shortcomings but also failures of legal method. The conventional law review provides the evidence, no less than it carries much of the blame for the decline in law-book reviewing. One obvious standard of reference for the declining law-book review continues to be the higher forms of literary review. This standard calls for renewed interest in law and literature.

Spink, A., Robins, D., & Schamber, L. (1998). Use of scholarly book reviews: Implications for electronic publishing and scholarly communication. Journal of the American Society for Information Science, 49(4), 364-374

Abstract:  Studies examining the use of printed materials by scholars are necessary precursors to the development of scholarly electronic journals and the development of the field of electronic publishing. Electronic publishing of journals is important in scholarship, where the timeliness and relevance of publications are crucial to the advancement of knowledge. Although considerable space is devoted to book reviews in scholarly journals, few previous studies have examined or provided detailed data on the utility or importance of book reviews to scholars. In addition, book reviews have generally not been included in models of scholarly communication. This article results from a survey of science and technology faculty, and the humanities and social science faculty at the University of North Texas. The survey sought to determine: (1) Whether faculty read book reviews in scholarly journals; (2) the sources, importance, and utility of book reviews for faculty research and teaching; and (3) faculty criteria for useful book reviews. Findings show that most faculty read book reviews, however, a dichotomy exists as to the usefulness of book reviews for faculty research and teaching. Different book review formats were also preferred by humanities and social sciences faculty, and science and technology faculty. Based on these findings, an extension of Garvey and Griffith's (1971) scholarly communication model is proposed that includes book reviews and various feedback loops as part of the scholarly communication process. Findings from this study hold implications for the content and access to electronically published book reviews, and further research.

Vassileva, I. (2010). Critical book reviews in German. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 20(3), 354-367.

Abstract: This pilot study is based on a sample corpus of 10 book reviews in the field of German applied linguistics, which have a definitely negative character. It attempts to elucidate the argumentation strategies used by review writers within the classical Aristotelian framework. The analysis leads to conclusions concerning the surface expression of the argumentation strategies used by writers, the degree to which criticism is based on objective logic and on subjective personal evaluation, and the preference for certain topoi, as well as some general concerns in relation to confrontation in academia.

Moreno, A. I., & Suarez, L. (2008). A study of critical attitude across English and Spanish academic book reviews. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 7, 15-26.


Abstract: Since the 1990s cross-cultural studies of academic genres are becoming increasingly relevant. One genre that has recently attracted cross-cultural attention is the academic book review. The aim of the present paper is to provide insight into what is expected in terms of overall critical attitude towards the books under review when writing in this academic genre for international journals by comparison to what is conventional in journals of smaller discourse communities. Based on two comparable corpora of 20 academic book reviews of literature in English and 20 in peninsular Spanish, the study compares how much and what kind of critical attitude (positive vs. negative) is typically displayed by expert L1 writers of such texts. Critical attitude is defined in terms of "critical acts," which are identified and measured in a way that takes the co-text and the context into account. The results show that the peninsular Spanish writers of literary academic book reviews are much less critical in general and show a much lower tendency to evaluate the book negatively than their Anglo-American counterparts. Results are discussed in the light of information provided by informants.

Hartley, J. (2005). Book reviewing in the BJET: A survey of BJET's referees' and writers' views. British Journal of Educational Technology, 36(5), 897-905.

Abstract: Reading and writing book reviews play an important part in academic life, but little is known about how academics carry out these tasks. The aim of this research was to explore these issues with members of the editorial panels  of the British Journal of Educational Technology. A questionnaire was used to determine: (1) how often these people read and wrote book reviews in general; (2) how useful they found them; and (3) what features they thought were important in book reviews. Thirty sets of responses were obtained (15 from each sex). Most respondents reported reading between one and five book reviews a month and writing between three and four a year. Overall, there was high agreement in what they thought were the important features of book reviews, but there were also wide individual differences. Men reported that book reviews were more useful than did women. The agreement obtained among the respondents supports the notion that book reviews can be viewed as an academic genre with measurable contents. This has implications for how they are written and how people might be taught to write them better.


Suárez, L., & Moreno, A.I. (2008). The rhetorical structure of academic book reviews of literature: A Spanish-English cross-cultural approach in U. Connor, E. Nagelhout & W. Rozycki (eds.). Current Research in Contrastive Rhetoric: Building Toward Intercultural Rhetoric.


Suárez, Lorena, and Ana I. Moreno. "The Rhetorical Structure of Academic Journal Book Reviews: A Cross-linguistic and Cross-disciplinary Approach." In Actas del V Congreso Internacional AELFE (Asociación Europea de Lenguas para Fines Específicos) / Proceedings of the 5th International AELFE Conference). Ed. Mª Carmen Pérez-Llantada Auría, Ramón Plo Alastrué and Claus Peter Neumann. CD-ROM. Zaragoza: AELFE / Prensas Universitarias de Zaragoza, 2005. 191-96.*


Abstract: The academic journal book review (henceforth BR) introduces new books to a particular discipline and assesses their value in relation to the development of the field. Following the genre analysis tradition started by Swales (1990), several studies on BR rhetorical structure seem to support its generic status. However, it is still unclear to what extent factors like the language in which texts are written and the academic discipline to which authors belong may affect the rhetorical organisation of the BR. To explore these influences, the present paper analyses 120 BRs, 60 in English and 60 in Spanish, 60 of History and 60 of Law. The study draws on Suárez and Moreno’s (accepted) scheme of rhetorical functions (i.e. moves, subfunctions and options) in this genre and shows that, despite sharing similar patterns of organisation, English and Spanish book reviews respond to some language-bound and academic discipline-bound preferences. For example, English reviewers tend to develop the descriptive move 2 and the evaluative move 3 more independently, while the Spanish reviewers tend to fuse these two moves to a much greater extent. On the other hand, the Spanish law reviewers seem much more reluctant to highlight weaknesses at the end of their reviews than the Spanish history reviewers.

De Carvalho, G. (2001). Rhetorical patterns of academic book reviews written in Portuguese and in English. Proceedings of the 2nd International Linguistics Conference. Rio de Janeiro: Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, 261-268.

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