Book Reviews

A High-Quality Academic Book Review

qmj-coverexampleI’ve recently been assigned the role of Book Review Editor for ASQ’s Quality Management Journal starting with the second issue in 2013, under the guidance of new Editor, Larry Fredendall of Clemson University. As we are preparing our book reviews for this issue, Matthias Thurer (who will also be preparing regular reviews with me) asked me for guidelines and what constitutes a “good” review. Here is my message for Matthias, as well as for any of you who are interested in preparing a book review for an academic journal.

In my opinion, the book review should be 500 to 900 words and discuss some or all of the following, as appropriate. These questions, which have been adapted from wendybelcher.com, are consistent with the excellent structure adhered to by the late James Kohnen who served as the QMJ Book Review Editor for many years:

  • What are the 1-3 main messages of the book?
  • Does the book achieve its stated goals?
  • Is the book a contribution to the field or discipline, and if so, what is that primary contribution? 
  • Does the book relate to a current debate or trend in the field and if so, how? 
  • Is the book well-written? What is the writing style and who would it appeal to?
  • How accurate is the information (e.g., the footnotes, bibliography, dates)? Who would benefit from reading this book? 
  • How does the book compare to other books in the field? 
  • If it is a textbook, what courses can it be used in and how clear is the book’s structure and examples?

If you know of a recently released (or pre-release) book that is relevant to academics and practitioners in quality management, or would like to prepare a book review for our pipeline into the QMJ, please let me know by email (at myfirstname dot mylastname at gmail)! We will be including 3-5 book reviews in each issue of the QMJ.

I invite you to add to this discussion – as a reader or writer, what are your criteria for a high-quality book review? Please share in the comments.

4 replies »

  1. If I may add one more parameter for review:
    Does the book address requirements of a specific segment of (or any specific set of) readers? If so, how far it seems to fulfill the requirements?

    This additional information can help the book to be easily identifiable to the intended reader segment, by just reading the review.
    One does certainly appreciate that such identification by the reviewer may not necessarily match with what is (was) planned by the author, if not specifically so stated by the author. That, in any case would make the review that much more interesting.

  2. I prefer a review that goes beyond whether a book is interesting or accurate. I want to know the reviewer’s opinions as to whether the book is USEFUL. What will I be able to do after reading it that I can’t do now; or what will my management be able to do after they read it if I pass the book to them? There are lots of books to read. I want one I can use.

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