Editorial Policies

1. Definitions:

A. 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).

B. Review articles are longer pieces that are published as regular articles. These are commissioned by the Journal Editors and are subject to the 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 Review Editor (Helen Goodluck). 

 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. Formatting: 

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 a header with the citation information arranged into a single paragraph and punctuated as follows:

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$. 

The mind doesn't work that way: The scope and limits of computational psychology. By Jerry Fodor. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2000. Pp. 126. ISBN 0262062127. $25.

The handbook of linguistics. Ed. by Mark Aronoff and Janie Rees-Miller. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2001. Pp. xvi, 824. ISBN 0631204970. $132.

Format for 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.

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.

Submitting a book notice/review
All submissions should be e-mailed as both a Word and PDF attachment to lang525@york.ac.uk. A PDF document is especially useful when various symbols are used in a text that may not transfer well via e-mail as a Word document. For further information, refer to the Style Sheet . top of page

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 notices or reviews that have not been submitted to and accepted by the Review Editor. 

5. Numbers: The number of singly authored reviews by any one reviewer may not exceed 10 per year. Also, a single reviewer may appear as the (co-)author on as many as 15 submissions in one year. This means that in addition to 10 singly-authored reviews, a reviewer may additionally have 5 co-authored reviews in one year. (These limits are subject to change, and reviewers are advised to check with the Review Editor if they approach these limits.)

6. Duplication: Undertaking to write a book review for Language entails a commitment on the part of the reviewer not to publish a review of the same book elsewhere without the express permission of the editors of Language

8. 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. Further, the writer of a review ought not to be the mentor, mentee, or close associate of the author/editor. In addition to these obvious conflicts of interest, 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 your brother-in-law's book).

9. 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. (See the FAQ: Are responses to reviews published? )

10. 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, the book to the review office promptly.

11. Information for Authors and Book Publishers: The official policy of Language regarding the receipt of publications is published in the journal in the Recent Publications section and is as follows: "This list acknowledges recent works (except offprints of single articles) that appear to bear on the scientific study of language. The receipt of individual books cannot be separately acknowledged, and no book can be returned to the publisher. By accepting a book, the Editor implies no promise that it will be reviewed in this journal. Books that are not assigned for review cannot be returned. In selecting books to send to the journal, publishers are advised to consult the most recent review appearing the journal, which is usually representative of the type of publications that are sent out for reviews.

What Language cannot do, as a matter of policy:
1. Language  will solicit individual books from publishers for review. Authors concerned about getting their works into the Recent Publications list should make certain that their publisher's marketing department has sent a copy or announcement 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.
2. Language does not send copies of reviews to publishers or authors (see policy #12 below). The Book Review office simply does not have the staff or resources to do this.

12.  Offprints and copies of the journal:  Language does not provide gratis offprints of anything published in the journal (including articles), nor do we provide free copies of the journal to review authors.  There is simply no way to do this if we are to keep the cost of the journal reasonable for the membership of the LSA, for whom the journal is primarily intended.  If you join the LSA, you will receive a subscription to Language free with your membership.  The cost of LSA membership including the annual subscription to the journal is less than the cost of a subscription alone to most journals.  So you might consider this.  Membership information can be found at:   Alternatively, it might be helpful to know that electronic access to Language is available via JSTOR and Project Muse.  If you have access to these electronic resources (usually through a university library), you can get a copy of your contribution that way.