Critical Studies in Television seeks to publish incisive and insightful book reviews which provide information about the book for the reader; offer informed criticism of the book’s content; and convey a balanced assessment of the work’s contribution to its field. Our book reviews are a crucial part of CST’s commitment to engaging with the most recent, groundbreaking research within the field of television studies and we very much appreciate the work our book reviewers do.
Here is some guidance we hope you will find helpful as you write your review.
Processes and practicalities
When your review is commissioned, you will be given a definite deadline and a word limit. Please stick to these. If you foresee any problems, do not hesitate to get in contact by email asap with the Book Reviews Editor. The usual word limit for single-book reviews is 800 words, and for double reviews is 1200 words.
Please head your review with the book’s details, ie.
Author, title, publisher: place, date of publication; 000 pp.: ISBN, price (hbk), ISBN 000, price (pbk)
Editor(s) (ed[s].), title, publisher: place, date of publication; 000 pp.: ISBN 000, price (hbk), ISBN, price (pbk)
followed by your details, ie.
Reviewed by: Janet McCabe, Birkbeck, University of London, UK
It is important you abide by Sage/CST’s style guidelines – and please pay particular attention to the referencing system. To access the guidelines, please click here.
When you submit your review, it will be copyedited and then returned to you for final amendments. When copyediting, we a) format the review to our standard format and check basic facts, b) read for structure, persuasiveness and objectivity and c) undertake the first proofread. This process usually takes about two weeks. You will then be sent a final copy, and the next thing you will receive will be your final proof, shortly before publication.
Rationale: the key qualities of a great book review
An expert perspective
We try to send books to appropriately qualified, disinterested reviewers who we feel will engage with the work open-mindedly, enthusiastically and critically.
Each review should situate the new publication within its appropriate context, which might be television studies as a whole, or a sub-field, and offer an appreciation of its contribution to that context. Where appropriate, do make references to what has come before; this helps our readers to situate the book in its field. If a book is genuinely innovative or idiosyncratic, do note this.
We aim to publish a range of different voices and approaches, incorporating reviews from long-established experts, early-career researchers, up-and-coming postgraduates and indeed reviewers who have valuable industry experience (depending on the book’s topic). Some writers create beautifully witty, engaging reviews that walk the line between scholarly and entertaining; others are more straight-talking and analytical and offer thoughtful and incisive contextualisation. All these kinds of voices are appropriate, provided they are scholarly in tone.
It is crucial, however, that your review is written in clear and direct English, avoiding jargon, eccentric phrasing and unnecessary verbosity. Your aim is to communicate clearly with our readers.
‘Objectivity’ and fairness
Personal voices aside, CST is looking for reviews of books, not opinion pieces. The review is about the book under scrutiny and not the reviewer. If you suspect that, were a reader were to read your review, he or she would end up knowing more about your point of view than the book’s argument, then you should rewrite.
Beware in particular of criticism of what the book has ‘left out’. If you find that the book’s own argument is incoherent/weakened because it omits x, clearly that should be mentioned. But criticism along the lines of ‘the book hasn’t undertaken the project I would have done, and/or hasn’t mentioned the theorists I would have preferred’ is illegitimate. Worst of all are reviews which conclude that the book’s focus is not really a legitimate area of study at all. If you are sent a book for review, and you feel this way about it, and you can find nothing constructive to say, please send the book back to us so that it can be sent to someone else.
We would say: be honest, but gracious. We are all authors as well as critics, and academic readers are well versed in detecting criticism even when understated and polite. Negative comments should be included, but they can be couched sensitively and should always be proffered in the context of how well the book has developed its central thesis (or not).
If you would like to review for CST, do please email the Book Reviews Editor, Dr Sarah Cardwell, firstname.lastname@example.org, giving details of your research interests.
Book Reviews Editor, CST
The material on this page is copyright Sarah Cardwell/CST 2015.