Selection Policy

[Editor’s Note: Choice’s Selection Policy, prepared by Choice editors in October 2019, appears below.  It updates the 2009 Selection Policy.  This comprehensive policy document outlines the major criteria that guide Choice subject editors in selecting print and electronic publications for review and provides a brief statement of coverage and scope for each subject area.]

Founded in 1964, Choice is a publishing unit at the Association of College and Research Libraries, a division of the American Library Association, and the publisher of Choice: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries and Choice Reviews (collectively, “Choice”). Choice’s primary mission is to assist librarians who build collections at the undergraduate level by providing concise, critical reviews of current scholarly resources. In addition, Choice serves faculty and students selecting resources that support work in the classroom and general readers interested in keeping up to date with the current literature in a particular field.

Choice publishes approximately 5,000 reviews annually, in print formats (the magazine and Choice Reviews on Cards) and online (Choice Reviews).  Because most titles are reviewed within three months of their publication, Choice usually provides the first scholarly, post-publication commentary on academic resources.

Choice reviewers are primarily teaching faculty from institutions across the United States and Canada, selected for their subject expertise, active involvement with undergraduate students and curricula, diverse viewpoints and backgrounds, and sensitivity to scholarly trends.  Academic librarians, many of whom are subject specialists with advanced degrees, review most reference materials.

Choice subject editors hold degrees in their areas of specialization and are familiar with collection development. Editors select resources for review based on examination of finished works.  Subject editors examine some 18,500 scholarly and trade publications annually and keep up with developments in their fields. They monitor publishers’ catalogs, professional journals, trade materials, and online resources to identify titles appropriate for review.  Owing to the volume of materials received, Choice reviews only a small percentage (roughly 25 to 30 percent) of the titles submitted.

This policy statement outlines the major criteria Choice editors use in selecting titles for review.

Principal Criteria for Selection

Readership level: Appropriate for undergraduates, whether in a community college, four-year college, or university or for general readers interested in scholarly literature.

Content: Complements the undergraduate curriculum and is suitable for inclusion in an academic library collection.

Quality: Authoritative, well presented, and well organized; should include appropriate supporting apparatus, e.g., index, illustrations, bibliography, notes, appendixes.

Language: English, with the exception of foreign-language dictionaries and bilingual publications.

Place of publication/production, and price: Any country; prices are given in US dollars

Publisher: All academic, trade, association, and government publishers. Choice gives special attention to university presses because readers are particularly interested in their output and because university press publications represent a high level of scholarship. We also review well-documented trade publications, and we give serious consideration to the works of and to small and alternative presses.

Publication/release date: Must be current (published within the last academic year). Titlesshould be submitted for review within three months of publication. We carefully scrutinize publications older than six months, sending out those we deem particularly important or unique.

Review copy: Finished works only. We prefer cloth, when available, but will accept titles in paperback. Choice does not review prepublication forms such as bound galleys, uncorrected advance reader copies, or page proofs.

Scope & Subject: We give priority to resources that are comprehensive or broad in coverage, cover topics of particular current interest, approach established topics in a new or unique way, or address newly developing fields of inquiry.

Material Types:  In selecting titles to review, Choice gives highest priority to monographs, because they are usually the most complete and cohesive treatments of a subject. We also review trade titles that are authoritative and sufficiently documented to be of use to undergraduates (including students in community colleges or vocational programs), serious general readers, or professionals.

Choice is more selective in choosing the following material types:

  • edited volumes
  • multivolume sets
  • English translations of titles first published in another language
  • collections of previously published works
  • festschriften
  • government documents
  • instructional manuals and how-to items
  • reprints
  • revisions and new editions
  • textbooks
  • serials and continuations of titles already reviewed
  • symposia and conference papers

Choice does not review materials for children, contemporary fiction and poetry, or self-help.

Electronic resources:  Choice reviews electronic resources.

Subject Guidelines

In keeping with longstanding library practice, Choice classifies titles according to a hierarchical structure by subject. Although most of the titles we review clearly fall into a single subject heading, increasingly many of the works we review are interdisciplinary.  In the Choice subject hierarchy shown below, the “see also” references direct readers to related categories under which a review may appear.

REFERENCE (general)  see also: Art & Architecture (for book arts); History, Geography & Area Studies (primary documents); Language & Literature (style manuals)

Subsections: Humanities, Information & Library Science, Science & Technology, Social & Behavioral Sciences

HUMANITIES (general)

Art & Architecture (general)  see also: Anthropology; Communication (for animation and film); Performing Arts (clothing and jewelry); Reference (history of the book)

Subsections: Architecture, see also: Botany (for landscape architecture); Engineering (technical aspects of building); History, Geography & Area Studies (urban planning and historic preservation); Fine Arts; Photography, see also: History of Science & Technology

Communication  see also: Art (for cartooning and comics); Business, Management & Labor (advertising); Information & Computer Science (technical aspects of gaming). [Editors’ Note: Comics, cartooning, and gaming are reviewed in this section]

Language & Literature (general)  see also: Anthropology (for language development); Philosophy; Reference (for book history)

Subsections: African & Middle Eastern, Asian & Oceanian, Classical, English & American, Germanic, Romantic, Slavic

Performing Arts (general)  see also: Art & Architecture (for performance art, costuming, and scenery design); Photography (pictorial works) 

Subsections: Film, Music, Theater & Dance

Philosophy  see also: Health Sciences (for bioethics); Psychology (cognitive science)

Religion  see also: History, Geography & Area Studies (for historical treatments)

SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY (general) [Editors’ Note: In science and technology editors are more likely to select textbooks.]

History of Science & Technology  

Astronautics and Astronomy

Biology  see also: Health Sciences (for biotechnology)

Subsections: Zoology, Botany  see also: Art & Architecture (for landscape design)

Chemistry  see also: Biology and Engineering (for biotechnology)

Earth Science  see also: Physics (for meteorology and climatology)

Engineering  see also: Art & Architecture (for building design); Biology and Chemistry (biotechnology); Information & Computer Science (robotics)

Health Sciences  see also: Biology (for microbiology); History of Science & Technology (histories of disease, medicine, and health care); Philosophy (biomedical ethics); Psychology (mental disorders); Sports & Recreation (exercise physiology and sports medicine)

Information & Computer Science  see also: Communication (for video gaming); Engineering (robotics)


Physics  see also: Earth Sciences (for meteorology and climatology)

Sports & Recreation  see also: Health Sciences (for physiology)


Anthropology  see also: Art & Architecture (for art-related material)

Business, Management & Labor  see also: Communication (for advertising)


Education  see also: Business, Management & Labor (for adult or workforce education)

History, Geography & Area Studies (general)  see also: Art & Architecture (for urban planning and historic preservation; Language & Literature (primary documents)

Subsections: Africa, Ancient History: Asia & Oceania, Central & Eastern Europe; Latin America & the Caribbean; Middle East & North Africa; North America; United Kingdom; Western Europe

Political Science (general)

Subsections: Comparative Politics; International Relations; Political theory; US Politics

Psychology  see also: Health Sciences (for mental health and learning and behavioral disorders); Philosophy (for theoretical cognitive science)


Interdisciplinary tags

Editors add interdisciplinary tags to individual reviews to facilitate searching across subjects. These tags are searchable as “Interdisciplinary Subjects” in Choice Reviews, and they are indexed at the back of every print issue of Choice.

Interdisciplinary tags are as follows:African & African American Studies; Asian & Asian American Studies; Canadian Studies; Classical Studies; Electronic Resources; Environmental Studies; Food & Agriculture; Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender Studies; Islamic Studies; Latin American & Latina/o Studies; Law & Society; Middle Eastern Studies; Native American Studies; Urban Studies; Women’s & Gender Studies