Writing an academic book review


A few titles recently sent out for review

For a previous blog, I wrote about what it was like to be a book review editor for two ecological journals. I am constantly asked questions like: What is the process for writing an academic book review?  How does one choose a book to review? Which journal should it be published in? How does one write a book review?

The following three Parts give some answers to these questions. Whilst the reviews I commission and edit have an ecological flavour, the answers below can apply to all academic book reviews.

Part 1. Choosing the book.

Part 2. Selecting the journal.

Part 3. Writing the review.

Because this post is long, I have split it so you can skip sections. Read each Part, or select one to answer your question. Bookmark this blog and come back to it later. Overall, I hope you find what you read useful and/or stimulating for your next book review. Continue reading


The Ecological Book Review Editor

A few titles recently sent out for review

A few titles recently sent out for review

Late one Friday, in November 2008, I hit send. I knew it was poorly worded but my email was gone.

“Not sure where I put your last email – but just wondering if you still needed applicants for this position?”

I began as the Ecological Society of Australia (ESA) Book Review Editor for the journals Austral Ecology (AE), and Ecological Management and Restoration (EMR), in March.  My third child was ~4 weeks old. Was I insane? Perhaps. Thanks to the previous editor, Ian Lunt, I was well equipped – his description of the role was detailed and methodical. I still use his guidelines and what few questions I had were quickly responded to.  I was ready.

My reasons for wanting the role were partly selfish. My post-doc had wound up, and given we were still collecting data, there were few papers on the radar (>20 have generated from the project since). I’d gone back to work 5 months after my eldest was born, so it wasn’t as if I couldn’t work. However, finding work in ecology was getting harder, and moving wasn’t an option. How many women do you know in ecology who work part-time/full-time with 3 or more children? I realised I now walked around with a label on my forehead – “she has three children”. I needed my career label to cover the label that now says “OMG now she has 4 children – she definitely can’t do it!” I needed to keep ‘in the loop’ and this was one way. Continue reading