A final note regarding book review writing is on how to convey criticism. A book review is an evaluative critique. Readers are interested in the book reviewer's opinions and a reviewer should not be afraid to state opinions. Any factual mistakes, shortcomings, or weaknesses should be made known. However, reviewers should be respectful to the authors and write in a professional manner. Book reviewers are not anonymous and the rules of basic courtesy and libel law apply., , Given that book authors are often readers of book reviews, any unwarranted criticism likely will be read by the book author., Hill and Boring recommend using descriptive comments, and not conclusions, to describe problems identified in books to allow readers to arrive at their own conclusions. Any criticism should be substantiated with examples or a relevant explanation of the reasons for the criticism to avoid confusion about a reviewer's arguments., Criticism should also be constructive., , The reviewer, where possible, should provide suggestions for improvement, because these suggestions may influence the crafting of a future edition. The book appraisal worksheet found in the appendix is designed to aid the reviewer in developing sound criticism by providing a template to document examples to be used to substantiate criticism and to provide suggestions for improvement to ensure constructive comments. Desirable and undesirable characteristics of book reviews are listed in Figure .
It should be noted that certain journals may have specific format requirements; for instance, the inclusion of the book's specifications (eg, author, publisher, ISBN, number of pages, etc.) and word limit. A reviewer should become familiar with the journal's book review policy before writing the review. Although most journals do not provide strict book review writing guidelines, most exhibit an underlying “house style.”, A perusal of book reviews appearing in the journal will orient the reviewer to the journal's informal house style. Word limits vary between journals and can be as short as 75 words to greater than 2000., Chen's study of 3347 biomedical book reviews found most reviews to be over 265 words. Kroenke identified a mean limit of 373 words among 480 medical book reviews and found that tangential information and reviewer opinions on the subject of the book increased the length of reviews. The majority of sources consulted in this review reported word limits ranging from 250 to 500 words with editors' preferences toward shorter reviews., , , , , Limited word counts necessitate a concise writing style. Methven recommended combining several ideas into a single sentence to achieve the goal of being succinct. Many book review editors believe the quality of a book review is rarely associated with its length., , , ,
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