1. Definitions: Book reviews vs. review articles

Book reviews are 1200-2000 word pieces that summarize the content of the volume, assess its quality, and note its contribution to the field.  Book reviews appear in the journal Language. Book reviews are not usually assigned to volunteers, but instead are commissioned by the Review Editor in consultation with the Editor and Associate Editors of Language. The journal typically publishes about 50 reviews each year. Unsolicited reviews are discouraged. However, Language will entertain requests, suggestions, or proposals from potential reviewers and consider these on a case-by-case basis. Such individuals should first contact the Review Editor (Helen Goodluck).

Review articles are longer pieces that are published as regular articles, and provide a more substantive review of a research area or a larger body literature on a specific topic. Review articles are commissioned by the Editors and are subject to the regular peer review process. Review articles are rather infrequent, and unsolicited review articles are generally not accepted. Individuals wishing to propose a review article should first contact the Language editorial office

2. Editing

For any book review accepted for publication in Language, the editors reserve the right to make alterations in punctuation, phrasing, and wording, as well as to make minor cuts, in order that the item be in keeping with the journal's requirements regarding style and usage.  Authors are asked to proofread their contributions thoroughly before submission.

3. Format of a book review manuscript

Book reviews should strictly adhere to the formatting guidelines given below. A review that does not follow these guidelines may be returned to the reviewer for reformatting before it is considered for publication in Language

The cover page

Each book review should have a cover sheet within the document, providing the following information:

  • the title and author(s)/editor(s) of the book;
  • complete contact information for the review author (postal address, phone number, and e-mail address);
  • an accurate word-count for the book  review (in MS Word, the "word count" utility is found in the "Tools" menu).

The first page

The first page of the review should contain complete information about the book being reviewed and the name(s) of the the reviewer(s).

The page should start with information about the book being reviewed. Provide this information into a single paragraph, following this format (including punctuation and spacing): Title: Subtitle. Ed. by/By Full name of author(s). (series title) [if any].) Publication city, state abbreviation: Publisher, Publication year. Pp. XX. ISBN. Price in US$.

For indicating the price information, use the dollar amount unless none is available. In such a case, provide the price listed by the publisher in local currency (i.e., do not try to convert currencies). The price should be listed in only one currency. If there is a choice between listing paperback or hardbound prices, please provide the paperback price (this is the default). If the book is hardbound, please indicate do with the abbreviation "(Hb)" after the price. Prices should be given in whole units, without decimal points, if possible (e.g. $109 and not $109.00).

Reviewer information: The name and affiliation of the reviewer is handled differently depending upon whether it is a review or a book notice. For both reviews and book notices, include the review author's name and affiliation on a single line flush right following the header and preceding the body of the review (separated by spaces), as follows: Reviewed by NameAffiliation.

Please consult examples of book reviews published in Language to ensure that you format the first page of your review correctly.

The body of the review

The body of the review should be double-spaced throughout, and should provide full first names of all scholars mentioned (except for those who publish under initials only). Please use Times New Roman font and a type size no smaller than 12 characters per inch. If the book is an edited volume, when you quote the names of authors of individual chapters, put the first name and surname in small capitals the first time you mention them, followed by regular font on subsequent mentions.

4. Timing

Book reviews should be completed within six months of receiving the book. Requests for additional books will not be considered if the individual making the request has outstanding book reviews that have not been submitted to and accepted by the Review Editor. 

5. How many reviews can an individual do?

The number of singly authored reviews by any one reviewer may not exceed 10 per year. A single reviewer may be the author or co-author of at most 15 reviews per year. A reviewer could therefore author 10 single-authored reviews and 5 co-authored reviews, 9 single and 6 co-authored reviews, 8 single and 7 co-authored reviews, etc. (These limits are subject to change, and reviewers are advised to check with the Book Review Editor if they approach these limits.)

6. Duplication

Undertaking to write a book review for Language entails that the reviewer has not previously published, and will not in future publish, a review the same book elsewhere. Exceptions to this policy may be granted in rare circumstances only after consultation with the Book Review Editor.

7. Conflicts of interest

Individuals should not undertake to review a book to which they have contributed, or for which they have written publicity statements that appear on dust jackets or promotional literature. Language cautions prospective reviewers against taking on a project that would cause the objectivity of the review to be questioned (e.g. don't review a book written by a family member, close friend, advisee, advisor, student, colleague, etc.). Reviewers are also discouraged to take on reviews of books by researchers with which they have strong ideological disagreements, especially if these disagreements have played out in the public sphere. The editorial team reserves the right not to publish a review if we judge there be to a reason that may negatively impact the perceived objectivity of a review, even we learn about such a reason after a review has been accepted for publication.

8. Negative reviews

Occasionally, a reviewer finds it necessary to express a negative opinion about a book in his/her review. When this is the case, it is important for the reviewer to maintain a professional tone and to avoid gratuitously offensive comments. The author of a negative review is also encouraged to send a copy of it to the author of the book when it is submitted to Language for publication. This is done in order that book authors not be surprised, and infuriated needlessly, when a (deservedly) negative review appears. This also gives authors a chance to inform the reviewer of any factual errors in their review. It should be noted here that the journal rarely publishes replies to negative reviews, and only when the reply is likely to advance some useful scholarly dialogue. In such instances, the review and its rejoinder are usually published in the same issue. The decision of whether to publish a response is done at the sole discretion of the editorial team.

9. Returns

Individuals who have been commissioned to write a book review should not hesitate to return the book, if it should turn out to be "not what was expected". If after inspecting the book, a reviewer decides against preparing a review, please inform the Book Review Editor and return the book promptly.

10. Interaction between publishers, authors and Language

Language receives many more books than what we can publish a review for. The receipt of individual books cannot be separately acknowledged, and no book can be returned to the publisher. Accepting a book does not imply that it will be reviewed in this journal. The decision of which books to review is at the sole discretion of the Book Reviews Editor. Before sending books to Language, publishers are advised to consult the most recent reviews appearing the journal for a representative sample of the type of publications that are sent out for reviews.

Language accepts books for reviews from publisher only, and never from authors. Authors interested in getting their books reviewed should confirm that their publisher's marketing department has sent a copy or new publication announcements to the Language Book Review office. Publishers who wish their linguistics selections to be noted in Language should make certain to send relevant books or announcements to us.

Language does not send copies of reviews to publishers or authors. Publishers and authors can access reviews through the same channels that they would usually access publications in Language.

11. How to submit a book review

All submissions should be e-mailed as both a Word and PDF attachment to the Book Review Editor (Helen Goodluck)