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Review Writing
Author: ADMIN (ukstudent at gmail dot com)
Published: Mon, 08-Jan-2007
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Review Writing. Article by University of Waikato Library

What is a review?

A review is defined as "a critical article or report, as in a journal, on a book, play, recital, or the like." A critique is defined as "an article or essay criticising a literary or other work"(Random House Dictionary of the English Language).

A review serves two major functions - descriptive and evaluative: it indicates to the reader some general idea of the contents and it offers an evaluation of the merit of the work.

The overall purpose of a book or article review is to interest and inform potential readers and to give them a considered personal opinion of a work. It should evaluate the work from your perspective rather than simply summarising or describing the work's content.

Reading the book or article

Carefully read the whole book at least once (henceforward book is used for all items being reviewed), including the preface, introduction and cover (which often give the reasons for its being written, who it was aimed at and background information about the author.)

Take notes as you read and consider some or all of the following points:

What was the purpose in writing this book, for whom was it written and is it appropriate to its audience?
What qualifications does the author have for writing on this subject?
Is the book well structured and attractively laid out? Is its development orderly and logical?
Is the book well written, easy to read and to follow?
Are there bibliographies and references and do they indicate comprehensive research carried out by the author?
Is there an index? What other features does it have? Are they effective and useful?
Is the book objective or does it show bias; are assumptions made and what conclusions does the author reach?
Does the book have illustrations, tables, etc., and do they complement the text?
Are there mistakes or omissions in the book?
How does the book compare with others known to you on the same subject or by the same author?
Is the publisher of the book (or the journal carrying the article) known and reputable?
How appropriate is the book's title? Does it promise essentially what the book delivers?
Why was the book written? Has the author met these objectives?
What is your personal response? Is it satisfying to read? Is it convincing? Why? If not, why not?

Writing the review

Review your notes and prepare a draft outlining the points you want to make.
The review outline will enable you to determine the central point of your review, to eliminate inessentials that have no relationship to your central point, and fill in the gaps.
Arrange the points you wish to make in a logical order.
Remember that your evaluation in the outline should support your central point.
As part of the descriptive review you should always include full details of the book's author, title and other bibliographic details, together with a brief resume of the book.
Then evaluate the book by commenting on the points listed above, supporting your comments, wherever possible, with quotations or examples taken from the text.
It is legitimate to read other reviews of the book but this review should now be your own, representing your opinion of it and how the book affected you.
Write up the final version of your review.

Further reading

Arnaudet, Martin L. and Barrett, Mary Ellen. "Reviewing a non-fiction book" in Approaches to academic reading & writing. Englewood Cliffs, Prentice Hall Regents, 1984. (Level 3, PE1128.A2A66 1984)

Drewry, John E. Writing book reviews. Westport , Greenwood Press, 1974. (Level 3, PN98.B7D7 1974)

Rountree, Kathryn. "The book review" in Writing for success: a practical guide for New Zealand students. Kathryn Rountree. Auckland , Longman Paul, 1991. (New Zealand Collection, PE1421.R859 1991)

Teitelbaum, Harry. How to write book reports. New York , Macmillan, 1995. (Level 3, PE1478.T45 1995)

Walford, A. J. "The art of reviewing" in Reviews and reviewing: a Guide. London , Mansell Publishing, 1986. (Level 3, PN98.B7R5 1986)

Other Library Guides give information for finding existing reviews of books and films.


Copyright for this article belongs to University of Waikato Library

This document was re-printed with the kind permission of Jenny McGhee. Original Source of the article is located here: http://www.waikato.ac.nz/library/learning/g_reviewwriting.shtml



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