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Journal of Near-Death Studies Guidelines for Media Reviews

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JNDS accepts reviews of relevant media including books, DVDs (including educational and commercial), and motion pictures.         

There are no limitations on length for media reviews for the Journal. Although most of our reviews are between 5 and 10 typed pages in length, you may feel free to use as little or as much space as you feel is appropriate for your review.

Following are some topics to consider including in your review:

  • Reviews should give accurate and adequate summaries of what the media piece is about. Sometimes that goal can be accomplished in a sentence, sometimes a lengthier summary of the table of contents – as in a book – or summary of the major topics and themes – as in a DVD or motion picture – might be needed. Ask yourself: “Would a reader of this review be clear about what is in the book, DVD, or motion picture?”
  • What background knowledge in what fields, if any, at what level, does the media piece presuppose?
  • In the case of a book, is the book easy or difficult to read (in terms of arrangement of material, style of expression, syntax, grammar, typos)?
  • Are sources cited so that readers can check the reliability of information offered? Is there a useful index? A bibliography?
  • What viewpoint does the author or producer/director push? Are there things the reader should know about the author or producer/director, such as other books written, or changes of viewpoint? Are there other viewpoints on these matters that ought to have been mentioned but aren’t? If so, can you guide readers to relevant reading?
  • What do other reviews of this media piece say? (This can be quite interesting. Books or other media on controversial topics often get two very distinct sets of reviews, one very favorable and the other very unfavorable.) If unwarranted or inaccurate reviews of the media piece have appeared, let readers know that.
  • For people interested in the topic of the media piece, is it essential, useful, OK but not necessary, or best avoided? (Actually, if you believe the media piece is best avoided, please tell me as soon as possible; unless it is important that readers be alerted, do not bother to review it, as we have decided not to devote space in the journal to media that are not worthwhile.) For people not specifically interested in this particular topic, is the media piece essential, useful, or of no particular importance? Would the media piece appeal to a wider audience than readers of this journal?
  • Of course, media are rarely uniform throughout in their interest or soundness. The most useful reviews are likely to single out specific bits of a book or movie, designating some as not controversial and others as far-fetched, some as well-documented and others as unfounded, and so on. When quotes are given or specific bits of books or movies are referred to, please give the page numbers in parentheses.
  • It is permissible for reviewers to express personal preference and taste so long as they make it clear what is personal preference in contrast to purportedly disinterested judgment.

Organization and Formatting of Media Reviews*

 Submit your review in the following format:

BOOK REVIEW

Or MEDIA REVIEW

[Your Name, Degree(s)]
[Institution or City]

If book:
[Title] by [Author], [City, ST: [Publisher], [year], [number of pages] + [number of front matter pages] pp., $00.00 [hc or pb] (ISBN xxxx....); Kindle ed. $00.00 e-book.
If audiovisual media:
[Title] [Motion picture, DVD] by [Name], Producer, and [Name], Director, [City, ST: [Publisher], [year], [length in __hours, __ minutes], $00.00.

Following are some topics to address in the body of a book review; adapt as appropriate to audiovisual media review:

INTRODUCTION
  • Who are you?: What is your background with regard to the subject of the book, and what is your motivation to review it? What is your relationship to the author?
  • Who is the author?: What is his/her background with regard to the subject of the book and his/her motivation/purpose in writing it?
  • The thesis of the book: What was the author trying to say/accomplish with this book?
  • Your thesis about the book: What is your argument/perspective on
    • how well the author achieved his/her goals in writing the book, and
    • the extent to which the book makes a contribution to the field

  State your thesis broadly here; you will address it in detail later in the review.

SUMMARY OF CONTENT
  • Summarize the content of each chapter or section of the book
  • Highlight any content you found particularly interesting, important, and/or controversial
  • Restate your thesis, and elaborate it in detail. Include what you consider strengths and weaknesses of the book.
  • Make your case with reference to specific book content, but do so primarily by paraphrasing the content; reserve quotation for content that is exceptional in some way: exceptionally well-worded, exceptionally controversial, etc.
  • Make your case also with reference to other sources, when appropriate.
CONCLUSION
  • Provide a summary or restatement of your thesis.
  • Identify to whom you would recommend this book – and to whom you would not recommend it, if anyone.
  • Introduce new ideas at this point only if they are logical extensions of what you have already presented.
AUTHOR NOTE
Your name, [your degree(s)], is [describe professional position and, if appropriate, institutional affiliation]. Correspondence regarding this Review should be addressed to Mr./Ms./Dr. [your last name] at [your postal address]; email: [your email address].

* Adapted from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Writing Center document, “Book Review.” Retrieved from http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/book-reviews/

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