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Guidelines for Writing Reviews
Thank you for your willingness to write a book review for the LINGUIST List. This document covers the mechanics of writing your review. Beyond the information provided here, we urge reviewers (especially less experienced reviewers) to look at recent LINGUIST book reviews for models of how to approach reviewing in particular subfields, particular types of books (e.g., monographs versus edited volumes or conference proceedings), and so on.
Once your review has been submitted, we will edit and post it if there are no substantial questions or changes. If we have questions or need to ask for revisions, we will send you an edited version and ask that you return revisions within two weeks.Note that LINGUIST List only publishes reviews that have been solicited through the reviews system. Unsolicited reviews will not be accepted.
Your review should consist of the following parts in this order (but without numbers):
A summary of the book's purpose and contents.
For example, if you are reviewing a textbook, indicate what audience it is intended for, and briefly what it covers. If it is a monograph, summarize its main points without going into technical detail. If it is an edited collection of papers by different authors, state what each paper is about, and how they fit together.
Please insert the header SUMMARY above this section.
A high-quality review will normally include pointing out some of the book's merits and shortcomings, identifying problems, asking questions, and presenting positive or negative implications of the analyses. LINGUIST reviews are often the first evaluations of a book available to the linguistics community, and unlike paper journals, LINGUIST encourages authors and readers to reply and offers them the immediate opportunity to do so. In keeping with standard LINGUIST policy, reviewers must keep the tone of reviews scholarly and avoid attacking persons and institutions. This does not mean that the reviewer should avoid controversy or criticism, only that the tone of that criticism must be professional and scientific. Reviews that do not meet LINGUIST standards for scholarly discourse will be returned to the author for revision.
When you write your evaluation section, consider the following questions:
- Have you been explicit about whether the author(s) have achieved their goals with the book?
- Is there a specific kind of audience the book would be especially good (or bad) for?
- Have you contextualized the book, i.e., explained how it fits with other literature on the topic?
- Does the volume cohere or not? (This is especially important for edited volumes.)
- Is there potential future research that this work opens up or suggests, either empirically or theoretically?
- Have you exemplified the points you raise in the evaluation clearly and concretely?
A complete list of references to works that you have cited in the body of the review, if you have cited any. Where you cite references, give the authors' names and dates of publication, and page numbers if relevant, as in the following example:
“It is particularly fitting, however, for the minimalist project as laid out in considerable detail in Chomsky (1995) and much subsequent work by Chomsky (such as Chomsky 2001) as well as many other scholars (see e.g. Epstein & Hornstein 1999b, Baltin & Collins 2001, Hendrick 2003 for collections of recent appraisals).”
Put the complete references of citations at the end of the review, as in the following examples. You may use any common reference style, though we encourage use of the Unified Style Sheet for Linguistics.
Chomsky, Noam. 1986. Knowledge of language. New York: Praeger.
Coetsem, Frans van. 2000. A general and unified theory of the transmission process in language contact. Heidelberg: Winter.
Franks, Steven. 2005. Bulgarian clitics are positioned in the syntax. http://www.cogs.indiana.edu/people/homepages/franks/Bg_clitics_remark_dense.pdf(17 May, 2006.)
Iverson, Gregory K. 1983. Korean /s/. Journal of Phonetics 11. 191-200.
Lahiri, Aditi (ed.). 2000. Analogy, leveling, markedness: Principles of change in phonology and morphology (Trends in Linguistics 127). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Murray, Robert W. & Theo Vennemann. 1983. Sound change and syllable structure in Germanic phonology. Language 59(3). 514-528.
Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edn. 1989. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
About the reviewer:
This section is no longer included with the review you submit. Instead, you will be asked to enter it as part of the on-line submission process. It should consist of a brief paragraph about yourself; e.g. your affiliation, research interests, specialization, etc. Please look at recently-posted reviews as examples.
Editorial Requirements for Reviews
- Length: We recommend 1500 to 2500 words. Reviews of edited volumes tend to be somewhat longer, approximately 3500 words.
- Normally reviews are written in English. However, if a book is written in German or Spanish and aimed primarily at a German- or Spanish-speaking audience, the review may be written in that language. The review must contain a short summary at the beginning in English. Important: you must contact the review editors ahead of time if you plan to write your review in German or Spanish. If a review is written in another language without first consulting the Reviews Team, we reserve the right to reject the review.
If you use acronyms, even those you think every linguist knows, write them out in full
at first mention, and put the acronym in parentheses, as in the following example:
“In this theory, the mapping between phonetic form (PF) and logical form (LF) is mediated by the level of surface structure (SS). However it is possible for a particular PF not to be associated with any LF.”
- Do not use any special formatting, such as italics, boldface,underlining, paragraph spacing, superscripts, subscripts, or automatic hyphenation.
- Do not include footnotes, tables or charts.
- Make the best use of the resources at hand, such as single and double quotation marks and capitalization.
- Please do not use the Tab character.
- Insert a blank line between paragraphs.
- Finally, keep in mind that multiple spaces are automatically reduced to a single space when reviews are posted, so do not attempt to use spaces to - for example - line up examples with glosses.
- If you need to use IPA or other special characters in your review, make sure to use a Unicode font.
- Reviews of edited volumes or handbooks normally include a brief description of each chapter. In that situation, please give the title and author's full name for each chapter. (We recognize that for books with a large number of chapters, this is not always practical.)
- One important issue is appropriate paraphrase and citation of the work of others, including from the book under review. We urge reviewers to consult a Writing Center, such as the one at UW-Madison: http://writing.wisc.edu/Handbook/QuotingSources.html.
- Submit the review on-line, following the instructions for submission found at http://linguistlist.org/pubs/reviews/.
- If you have any problems or questions, drop a note to reviews linguistlist.org explaining your situation. Also, if you have any present and/or past connection with the author(s)/editor(s), whether it be positive or negative (i.e. anything that would interfere with you judging the manuscript at hand objectively), please let us know immediately, as we deem such situations a conflict of interest. These include, but are not limited to, a relationship with the author(s) of the work under review as a colleague or former colleague, (former) student or advisor or professor, collaborator or someone you have a professional or personal conflict or dispute with.
Some Practical Considerations
- Please submit your review within six weeks of receiving your copy of the book. If you are not able to complete the review in that time, please let the reviews team know.
- Keep an electronic copy of the version of the review that you send us, because your review may not reach us the first time you send it, it may become garbled in transmission, or because we may require revisions.
You have the right to republish your review elsewhere. We ask only that you
include the complete URL for your review as it appears in LINGUIST, as in:
“This review appeared originally in the LINGUIST List at http://linguistlist.org/issues/15/15-839.html.”
Once your review is posted, you are welcome to keep the book.
If you have any other questions or comments, please contact our Book Review editors, at reviews linguistlist.org.