Choice Reviewer Guidelines
WHO ARE CHOICE’S READERS?
Choice reviews target those seeking critical evaluations of books and electronic resources. Our primary audiences are librarians and teaching faculty who select materials for academic libraries, especially at the undergraduate level, and a reading public who shares an interest in scholarly books, but we also review with an eye toward students—particularly undergraduates—looking for research materials or titles to supplement work in the classroom and a reading public who shares an interest in scholarly resources.
WHO ARE CHOICE’S REVIEWERS?
Choice reviewers are active faculty or librarians based at institutions of higher education. Because of the cost and time of sending books internationally, we prefer reviewers based in the US. Editors select reviewers for their expertise and teaching experience within their subject specialties, and for their ability to write clear, concise evaluations. Reviewers should be familiar with the undergraduate environment. Choice editors work closely with reviewers to assign material within subject specialties and according to their preferred reviewing schedules. Every year we ask reviewers to update their profiles, to assure appropriate and timely assignments. Editors welcome emails from reviewers about general matters or about particular assignments.
To see sample reviews, click here.
BECOMING A REVIEWER
To apply to become a reviewer please visit Choice Reviewer Application Form. Applications will be evaluated by the appropriate subject editor, and those who are accepted as reviewers will be assigned to that editor. Subject editors are:
- Humanities—Becky Bartlett
- Science and technology—Grace Wiersma
- Social and behavioral sciences—Fatima Mohie-Eldin and Daniel Pfeiffer
The editorial director is Bill Mickey.
Important elements of reviews are as follows:
- Critical evaluation of the title’s overall quality and of its value to students, particularly undergraduates.
- Comments on the author’s/editor’s affiliation, subject knowledge, previous publication(s), writing style, and approach or viewpoint.
- Information about the title’s scope and organization.
- Critical comparison with other works in the field (titles cited should include full bibliographic information—authors/editors, title, and publication date).
- For edited volumes, mention of essays that stand out (all essays need not be mentioned).
- For titles deemed “not recommended,” specification of particular problems. [Note: negative reviews are valuable in that they steer readers away from a title that is too flawed to be useful in an academic setting.]
Reviews should not include detailed synopsis of content nor repeat bibliographic details cited at the head of the review, unless any of these elements bears on the work’s overall value.
Choice Reviews Rating System
Every title and resource reviewed in Choice is given a zero- to four-star rating that corresponds with recommendation levels ranging from “Not Recommended” to “Essential”. The star icons appear in the print version of Choice Reviews, but not in the Choice Reviews Online database. The print and digital versions both include the recommendation levels. When considering the individual rankings, it’s helpful to remember that they result from a critical evaluation of how well a title comports to an undergraduate level of study specific to an academic setting. Titles are not reviewed against the backdrop of a general readership. The ranking system works as follows:
Zero stars: Not Recommended
One star: Optional
Two stars: Recommended
Three stars: Highly Recommended
Four stars: Essential
Editors fact-check all reviews and edit for length, grammar, organization, documentation, and house style. Editorial tools are Merriam Webster Unabridged (online), The Chicago Manual of Style (17th ed., 2017),OCLC, and the publisher’s website (which is regularly consulted for details about the author and the book’s content). To minimize editorial emendations, reviewers should adhere to the following guidelines:
- Do not exceed 200 words.
- Write in active, third-person voice.
- Write in language suitable for an informed, general audience. Avoid jargon, technical terms, discipline-specific language, acronyms, and nonstandard abbreviations.
- Put in quotes and attribute quoted material. Do not incorporate phrasing found in publisher promotional materials without attributing it.
- Support extremely negative comments with examples (and page numbers, if possible).
- All reviews are submitted through Choice’s reviewer portal, Choice Connect, which also provides access to previous reviews.
- The standard deadline is six weeks from the date we send the material. Requested extensions can usually be granted.
- Per the reviewer agreement signed during the application process reviews cannot be posted or shared with anyone outside Choice prior to the review’s publication online.
- Reviewers should retain copies of their reviews.
Publication of reviews
Reviews are edited on receipt and posted to Choice Reviews, where subscribers can have immediate access. Reviews appear in print approximately three months after receipt.
- Reviewers and publishers will receive a digital copy of the edited review about a week before the print edition goes to press.
- The reviewer agreement enables us to protect both the reviewer and Choice from unauthorized third-party use of reviews. American Library Association policy supports granting permission for scholarly use. After publication, reviewers may reprint or post reviews free of charge, with the following notification: Reprinted with permission from CHOICE http://www.choicereviews.org, copyright by the American Library Association. For additional information about permissions contact Choice’s Director of Operations Rachel Hendrick.
- Complaints about reviews: If we receive a communication challenging a review, the editor will send the reviewer a copy of the letter; likewise, reviewers who receive a complaint directly should contact the editor. Choice has standard procedures for complaints, which include offering the complainant an opportunity to publish comments in our letters column and inviting the reviewer to respond in writing (both letters appear in the same issue).
Declining an assignment
Reviewers should contact their editor and decline an assignment under any of the following circumstances:
- Reviewer has a conflict of interest or a relationship with the publisher, author, or institution—e.g., is well acquainted with the author, works at the institution that published the resource, has a history of conflict with the author, or is mentioned in the book.
- The subject matter is out of scope.
- Reviewer cannot meet deadline, even if it is extended.
- The book does not merit review (e.g., it is too specialized or too elementary for undergraduates; the scholarship is inferior).
For additional information about Choice reviewing, click here.