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WRPR 104: American Dreams (HC) Fall 2014: Home

Writing Program 104: American Dreams: Ethnographic Perspectives on the US (Hall) Fall 2014

Using Book Reviews in Research

Book reviews published in scholarly journals and quality magazines like the Atlantic Monthly and the Nation, are valuable sources of information:

1) They provide an informed summary of a book’s contents and, most usefully, a critical evaluation of its arguments.

2) Many reviewers go further and set the book within a larger context, comparing it to other titles on the same subject and pointing out the most important scholarship in the field.

3) Book reviews allow you to “listen in” to the dialog by which scholars identify issues, test ideas and build consensus.  Other kinds of writing that provide these kinds of direct insights include literature reviews and conference papers.

Finding Journal Articles

Use the  buttons in the indexes to locate articles (inclding book reviews) available in the three colleges:  

   1) Connect to a digital copy immediately.  

   2) Check Tripod for a paper copy of the journal.  

   3) For titles not owned locally, the ILL (interlibrary loan article delivery) option has a copy sent to your email.              You can also go to the Request Form directly.

 Online journals are often available from more than one source.  The Tripod Find It menu directs you to the sources and shows the years covered.  If you have multiple choices, the university presses, JSTOR, and Project Muse offer the best functionality.


Finding Book Reviews

Book reviews appear in many different kinds of publications: scholarly journals, magazines directed to different kinds of audiences, and newspapers.  The most efficient way to locate reviews of a particular book is to use a database that targets reviews and covers a wide range of publications as the Book Review Index and Proquest Research Library do.

Tip on Magazines

When looking at the results from your database searches, be aware of a specific kind of review magazine that is aimed at librarians.  The reviews tend to be quite short (i.e. 250 words) and focus on content rather than critical analysis.  Titles in this area include:



     Kirkus Reviews

     Library Journal

You are likely to find longer and more substantive reviews in journals and other kinds of magazines.

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Margaret Schaus