Search this Guide Search. Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper Offers detailed guidance on how to develop, organize, and write a college-level research paper in the social and behavioral sciences. The Abstract Executive Summary 4. The Introduction The C. The Discussion Limitations of the Study 9. The Conclusion Appendices There are two general approaches to reviewing a book: D escriptive review: presents the content and structure of a book as objectively as possible, describing essential information about a book's purpose and authority.
This is done by stating the perceived aims and purposes of the study, often incorporating passages quoted from the text that highlight key elements of the work. Additionally, there may be some indication of the reading level and anticipated audience.
C ritical review: describes and evaluates the book in relation to accepted literary and historical standards and supports this evaluation with evidence from the text and, in most cases, in contrast to and in comparison with the research of others. It should include a statement about what the author has tried to do, evaluates how well you believe the author has succeeded in meeting the objectives of the study, and presents evidence to support this assessment.
For course assignments, most professors will want you to write this type of review. How to Approach Writing Your Review NOTE: Since most course assignments require that you write a critical rather than descriptive book review, the following information about preparing to write and developing the structure and style of reviews focuses on this approach.
Common Features While book reviews vary in tone, subject, and style, they share some common features. These include: A review gives the reader a concise summary of the content. This includes a description of the research topic and scope of analysis as well as an overview of the book's overall perspective, argument, and purpose. A review offers a critical assessment of the content in relation to other studies on the same topic.
This involves documenting your reactions to the work under review--what strikes you as noteworthy or important, whether or not the arguments made by the author s were effective or persuasive, and how the work enhanced your understanding of the research problem under investigation. In addition to analyzing a book's strengths and weaknesses, a scholarly review often recommends whether or not readers would value the work for its authenticity and overall quality.
This measure of quality includes both the author's ideas and arguments and covers practical issues, such as, readability and language, organization and layout, indexing, and, if needed, the use of non-textual elements. Developing an Assessment Strategy There is no definitive methodological approach to writing a book review in the social sciences, although it is necessary that you think critically about the research problem under investigation before you begin to write.
Therefore, writing a book review is a two-step process: 1 developing an argument about the value of the work under consideration and 2 clearly articulating that argument as you write an organized and well-supported assessment of the work A useful strategy in preparing to write a review is to list a set of questions that should be answered as you read the book [remember to note the page numbers so you can refer back to the text! Here are some sample questions that can help you think critically about the book: Thesis or argument.
What is the central thesis—or main argument—of the book? If the author wanted you to get one main idea from the book, what would it be? How does it compare or contrast to the world that you know or have experienced? What has the book accomplished? Is the argument clearly stated and does the research support this? What exactly is the subject or topic of the book? Is it clearly articulated? Does the author cover the subject adequately? Does the author cover all aspects of the subject in a balanced fashion?
Can you detect any biases? What type of approach has the author adopted to explore the research problem [e. How does the author support their argument? What evidence does the author use to prove their point? Is the evidence based on an appropriate application of the method chosen to gather information?
Do you find that evidence convincing? Why or why not? Does any of the author's information [or conclusions] conflict with other books you've read, courses you've taken, or just previous assumptions you had about the research problem? How does the author structure their argument? Does it follow a logical order of analysis? What are the parts that make up the whole? Does the argument make sense to you? Does it persuade you? How has this book helped you understand the research problem?
Would you recommend the book to others? Question to ask may include: The author: Who is the author? The nationality, political persuasion, education, intellectual interests, personal history, and historical context may provide crucial details about how a work takes shape. Does it matter, for example, that the author is affiliated with a particular organization?
What difference would it make if the author participated in the events they wrote about? What other topics has the author written about? Does this work build on prior research or does it represent a new or unique area of research? The presentation: What is the book's genre? Out of what discipline does it emerge?
Does it conform to or depart from the conventions of its genre? These questions can provide a historical or other contextual standard upon which to base your evaluations. If you are reviewing the first book ever written on the subject, it will be important for your readers to know this. Structure and Writing Style I. Bibliographic Information Provide the essential information about the book using the writing style [e. In general, it would look like this: [Complete title of book.
If you find it difficult to discern the overall aims and objectives of the book [and, be sure to point this out in your review if you determine that this is a deficiency], you may arrive at an understanding of the book's overall purpose by assessing the following: Scan the table of contents because it can help you understand how the book was organized and will aid in determining the author's main ideas and how they were developed [e.
Why did the author write on this subject rather than on some other subject? From what point of view is the work written? What is the general field or genre, and how does the book fit into it? If necessary, review related literature from other books and journal articles to familiarize yourself with the field. Who is the intended audience? What is the author's style? Is it formal or informal? You can evaluate the quality of the writing style by noting some of the following standards: coherence, clarity, originality, forcefulness, accurate use of technical words, conciseness, fullness of development, and fluidity [i.
How did the book affect you? Were there any prior assumptions you had about the subject that were changed, abandoned, or reinforced after reading the book? How is the book related to your own personal beliefs or assumptions? What personal experiences have you had related to the subject that affirm or challenge underlying assumptions?
Would you recommend this book to others? Note the Method Support your remarks with specific references to text and quotations that help to illustrate the literary method used to state the research problem, describe the research design, and analyze the findings. The description presents background and setting. Its primary purpose is to help the reader realize, through as many details as possible, the way persons, places, and things are situated within the phenomenon being described.
Narration : The author tells the story of a series of events, usually thematically or in chronological order. In general, the emphasis in scholarly books is on narration of the events. Narration tells what has happened and, in some cases, using this method to forecast what could happen in the future. Its primary purpose is to draw the reader into a story and create a contextual framework for understanding the research problem.
Exposition : The author uses explanation and analysis to present a subject or to clarify an idea. Exposition presents the facts about a subject or an issue clearly and as impartially as possible. Its primary purpose is to describe and explain, to document for the historical record an event or phenomenon. Argument : The author uses techniques of persuasion to establish understanding of a particular truth, often in the form of addressing a research question, or to convince the reader of its falsity.
The overall aim is to persuade the reader to believe something and perhaps to act on that belief. Critically Evaluate the Contents Critical comments should form the bulk of your book review. Ask yourself: Has the purpose of the book been achieved? What contributions does the book make to the field?
Is the treatment of the subject matter objective or at least balanced in describing all sides of a debate? Are there facts and evidence that have been omitted? What kinds of data, if any, are used to support the author's thesis statement? Can the same data be interpreted to explain alternate outcomes?
Is the writing style clear and effective? Does the book raise important or provocative issues or topics for discussion? Does the book bring attention to the need for further research? What has been left out?
Examine the Front Matter and Back Matter Front matter refers to any content before the first chapter of the book. Front matter that may be considered for evaluation when reviewing its overall quality: Table of contents -- is it clear? Is it detailed or general? Does it reflect the true contents of the book? Does it help in understanding a logical sequence of content?
Author biography -- also found as back matter, the biography of author s can be useful in determining the authority of the writer and whether the book builds on prior research or represents new research. In scholarly reviews, noting the author's affiliation and prior publications can be a factor in helping the reader determine the overall validity of the work [i. Foreword -- the purpose of a foreword is to introduce the reader to the author and the content of the book, and to help establish credibility for both.
A foreword may not contribute any additional information about the book's subject matter, but rather, serves as a means of validating the book's existence. In these cases, the foreword is often written by a leading scholar or expert who endorses the book's contributions to advancing research about the topic.
Later editions of a book sometimes have a new foreword prepended [appearing before an older foreword, if there was one], which may be included to explain how the latest edition differs from previous editions. These are most often written by the author. Acknowledgements -- scholarly studies in the social sciences often take many years to write, so authors frequently acknowledge the help and support of others in getting their research published.
This can be as innocuous as acknowledging the author's family or the publisher. However, an author may acknowledge prominent scholars or subject experts, staff at key research centers, people who curate important archival collections, or organizations that funded the research. In these particular cases, it may be worth noting these sources of support in your review, particularly if the funding organization is biased or its mission is to promote a particular agenda. Preface -- generally describes the genesis, purpose, limitations, and scope of the book and may include acknowledgments of indebtedness to people who have helped the author complete the study.
Is the preface helpful in understanding the study? Does it provide an effective framework for understanding what's to follow? Chronology -- also may be found as back matter, a chronology is generally included to highlight key events related to the subject of the book. Do the entries contribute to the overall work? Is it detailed or very general? List of non-textual elements -- a book that contains numerous charts, photographs, maps, tables, etc.
Is this useful? Back matter that may be considered for evaluation when reviewing its overall quality: Afterword -- this is a short, reflective piece written by the author that takes the form of a concluding section, final commentary, or closing statement. It is worth mentioning in a review if it contributes information about the purpose of the book, gives a call to action, summarizes key recommendations or next steps, or asks the reader to consider key points made in the book.
Appendix -- is the supplementary material in the appendix or appendices well organized? Do they relate to the contents or appear superfluous? Does it contain any essential information that would have been more appropriately integrated into the text? These guides for first-year teachers offer crucial tips for managing the classroom, students, curriculum, parent communication, and, of course, time. Create a List.
List Name Save. Rename this List. Rename this list. List Name Delete from selected List. Save to. Save to:. Save Create a List. Create a list. Save Back. Classroom Activities: 25 Book Report Alternatives. Grades PreK—K , 1—2 , 3—5 , 6—8. Write a letter to the main character and the character's reply. Write a different ending for the book.
Pretend you are a talk show host and interview the main character. Create a travel brochure for the setting of the story or scrapbook pages about key characters. Create a book jacket, including illustrations, an enticing synopsis, author bio, and favorable reviews.
Summarize the book into a comic or story aimed for younger students or your classmates. Write a news article about an important event from the book. Write about the decisions you would make if you were the main character in the book.
Dramatize a scene from the story with other students or using puppets. Post a book review on Share What You're Reading. Choose two characters from the story and write a conversation they might have. Write a letter or email to a close friend recommending the book you have just read. Make a list of new, unusual, or interesting words or phrases found in your book. Prepare a television commercial about your book. Act out the commercial for your classmates. Write ten chat room-style questions that could be used to start an online discussion about the book.
Or, write ten questions that test other students' understanding of the story. Make sure you provide a list of answers. Explain why you think this book will or will not be read years from now.