If you are trying to find books or media recordings on your topic, reading reviews can help you decide what to use.
Reviews tell you the strengths and weaknesses of the work being reviewed. They situate the work in the context of conversations taking place in the discipline.
You can also use reviews to learn about important sources on your topic that you wouldn't otherwise know about. Reviewers often compare the work being reviewed to other works, tracing the history of the work's ideas back to foundational sources.
There are a few differences among reviews depending on what is being reviewed.
Whatever the type of review, reviewers are responsible for determining the criteria they will use in reviewing a work. Well written reviews are clear about the reviewer's perspective and reasons for a positive or negative opinion. Reviewing thus serves to measure the quality of a work, similar to peer review. The two processes are different in several ways:
|Academic peer review||Before publication||Yes - reviewers and authors usually don't know each other's identity|
|Academic book reviews||After publication||No - authors and reviewers know each other's identity|
Use the Book Review Digest Plus database to find reviews of a book you are considering using.