How to Write a Critical Book Review?

Books give a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything

Plato

A critical book review is a thorough analysis, and implicit and explicit evaluation of the content, meaning, relevance and significance of a book, in relation to prior research on the topic. Reviews generally can range from 500-1000 words, but may be longer or shorter depending on the length and complexity of the book being reviewed, as well as differs from journal to journal. Writing book reviews is a practice in academics to carefully analyze complex scholarly texts and to assess one’s ability to effectively synthesize research so that one can successfully reach an informed perspective about a research problem. The description and evaluation in critical book review is according to accepted literary standards. This can involve four important aspects:

What the author has tried to explain?

Evaluating whether the author has met the objectives of the study.

Presenting evidence to support the entire assessment.

Identifying the relevant audience, who will be benefited by this assessment.

While writing book review on ‘ The Handbook of Entrepreneurship: What we know, what we need to know’ by Alain Fayolle, I followed the following steps which might be useful for other scholars to do the same:

Read and Make Notes

One should read each chapter carefully and make notes on the theme emerging out of it. As many questions as possible emerging from one’s thoughts should be framed and one should diligently try to answer each one of these questions. For instance, few questions can be: ‘What kind of article or chapter is it? Does it have theoretical arguments? Does it have quantitative or qualitative data? What are the issues raised and addressed? What are the limitations? Does the author do justice with addressal? Does one find any contradictions or biased statements? Also how well one can relate to the statements mentioned with one’s experience or with any similar scholarly article.

Organise Notes

Once one is ready with set of questions and answers, it’s important to divide the notes into:

Summary:

It’s vital to summarise one’s notes with specific summary language which can be: Information about the author, How many chapters are there? How many pages, series, volume and publication, tone of the author, claims one , two, three etc. made by the author, arguments put forth by the author, Who are the intended readership for this article or book? Making a precise of all chapters which results in a seamless well connected story appealing for the readers. What are the contributions of the book to the field of knowledge and domain concerned?

Evaluation:

The most crucial part of a critical book review is ‘Evaluation’. It should be done by using existing literature to support one’s views as well as one’s knowledge, experience in the field of concern. As a student it’s very difficult to evaluate and not to get biased. It’s important to put forth the arguments of the author regarding a topic and not a critique of the topic developed by oneself. Evaluation can be of two types:

EXPLICIT EVALUATION

Explicit evaluation involves directly or explicitly, how one intends to evaluate the text with set of specific guidelines or questions.

IMPLICIT EVALUATION

Implicit evaluation unlike the previous one is less direct.

Conclusion:

Conclusion has an entire different language where one describes the contributions of the book ,despite it’s limitations. One need to explain how this book is better than it’s previous volume if applicable, the language can be for instance be this way: this book makes a contribution or is a starting point or useful for policy makers / students/ practitioners/ pedagogy etc

Hope you find this article useful, please share your feedback and views in the comments section’. Also you can find my recently published book review article in the ‘International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation’ below:

If you don’t have time to Read, you don’t have time or tools to Write.

Stephen King

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Conclusion:

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Book Reviews:Stepping stone to a well crafted thesis.

Who has not envisioned his/her thesis finally complete and ready for defense. Haven’t we all? But we also know it’s not going to be a cakewalk. It will require hours of reading, comprehending, researching and finally, writing!!! All those sleepless nights one has spent over going through frameworks, data collection and interpretations comes to a standstill when it needs to be penned down in a pre specified format. This is where an excellent research question may be presented poorly or an average research question may emerge as a pertinent one. How one writes his/her thesis determines the quality of research is what i have understood in my two years as research fellow. The bottom line is, a well written thesis is a good thesis. The dilemma of writing and presenting thesis in a comprehensible format is what us researchers struggle with. Many researchers use complex words and jargons  which are mostly borrowed from other articles or thesis of western world. This particularly is not a good idea as it dilutes the originality of article/thesis and in long run may produce diffculties for the author. Now the question is : How to write a good thesis?

The answer lies in book reviews. Yes, it does. How? one may ask. Writing book reviews serves two purpose: First, it makes you read a book which not only enhances one’s knowledge about the subject but also increases reading speed which comes in quite handy while skimming through journal articles or doing a literature review. Second, it makes the author skilled in academic writing which will prove to be a boon when one starts writing his/her thesis. Book reviews are a great source to brush up writing skills and seeing them getting published in top notch journals at initial stages of research career gives the researcher a boost to do better work ahead.

To write a book review one must know the nuances of it. A key component of writing book review is precision. To be as precise as possible is a sure shot way of getting published within two months. However, it’s easier said than done. Precision requires practice. A lot of it!!! Therefore, to begin with, it is suggested to write elaborate details of each book chapter and then start removing unimportant bits narrowing it down to a paragraph. Gradually, it will start making sense. Once it does, try combining two lines into one and still make same sense as it was previously. Proof read multiple times and further reduce until a couple of lines remain and still conveys what the book chapter wants to convey. That’s precision!!!! Once a researcher has mastered this, a well written thesis is not a distant dream.

There can be many other way of writing book review. Ultimately, what works for an individual is what matters. I have shared how i went about writing my book reviews. Whatever be the method one thing is for sure, writing and publishing a book review is a great start to a well written thesis as it equips the researcher with the much needed writing skills and makes one read important books above all. As overwhelming it seems, writing a book review is fun. It should be taken as a serious leisure activity and not a mandatory academic work. This is all about writing book reviews, now Netflix and chill!!

 

 

Attending SPSS Workshop and what to expect out of it.

Hi, everyone. I got a chance to attend a workshop on SPSS and I thought of sharing what I learned, what we should expect and how can you retain what we learn in a workshop. It was a ten days workshop. We started with an introduction as usual and fortunately, our tutor was highly experienced and he was aware of the nerves of both SPSS and our level of understanding.

Tutor and other faculties tried their best to explain to us what they had experienced over the years. It was effective and smooth. It gave a long-lasting learning. However, any workshop attended is always time, resource and people constrained in nature.

Let’s break it here now. I will tell you in points what was the overall learning.

1. As tutors are always great in the workshop you can expect to learn good outcomes

2. Tutors have enough knowledge that you can get almost any query answered.

3. You can discuss your research problem if you want to.

4 Without keeping on practising you will only retain the name of tutor and workshop.

5Workshop are meant to bring enthusiasm, time-bound learning and fruitful future commitments

6 Workshops give you glimpses of very out of box knowledge of your specific area so keep making notes

7 Workshops also help you develop the network and create your own research peer group to discuss problems in future also.

8 It also helps to gain knowledge of the new source, new data sets, new techniques etc

I would like to conclude with this point that a researcher must attend a few of the good workshop. These effectively help a researcher to refresh and bring new determinations and commitment to research. I will be waiting for your comments and responses.

Thank you all

If you dare, there can always be new ways of approaching research questions, although the method proposed by Alvesson and Sandberg may not, for obvious reasons(!), be suitable for young researchers at all and as all university professors tell their students, “don’t try to take on too ambitious projects at first. Read the post below ” https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20140912150946-275561203-6-very-useful-approaches-to-identify-research-gaps-and-generate-research-questions

A good argument: the thesis of the thesis

It informs in brief on structuring arguments for doctoral writing.

DoctoralWriting SIG

By Susan Carter

It is easy (and sounds self-evident) to say that a thesis needs a thesis—i.e., an argument—but it’s easier said than done to produce that thesis in doctoral writing. This post proposes that the thinking done through writing is perhaps the most powerful route to developing a good argument. I’ll begin by considering the qualities of a good argument before pondering on ways to tell whether an argument has really developed to its best iteration. Often it is only once the whole project is completed that the author is able to say defensibly what the findings of the project mean. This means just before submission they need to make what is usually called an argument.

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Making the First Step towards Academic Writing: Learning to Write or Writing to Learn?

“In research, you write to Inform not to Impress”  This was the statement of Prof. Sashi Misra a senior faculty at EDII.  He is a renowned scholar and prolific writer in the field of social psychology, Organization Behavior and Human Resource Management and a man of few words.

Without an iota of doubt, I can convincingly say that writing a manuscript for a top class journal (featured in the FT50 list) is a dream for every researcher. But then during the process to achieve it, we started to realize that, writing academically is a lot different than writing casually or the way we were writing till today.

As a researcher, I have also gone through the pain of academic writing and It made me a keen observer. Like others, I started to read many researh articles published in the best journals and tried to develop one. I was enthusiastic and wrote with a lot of fervour and submitted to a journal. and It was rejected. I got frustrated and allowed my emotion to take control of me. After a while, I introspected and realised the flaws. This was a lesson worth remembering.

I realised emulating a writing style of another author is easy, but the difficulty lies in content, comprehension and building a logic, and these are unique to the authors.

It is said ‘life’s best lessons are learned from the failures’ I realized I have to start fresh and with a difference. I started by writing an annotated bibliography of a research article and it gives me a lot of confidence to go forward.

Soon,  I found another way while reading a journal (Family Business Review) in my research area. it is known as FBR Precis. Although precise writing was not new to me, as I used to write them for proses in High school. The FBR precis is written on a research study featured in FBR and get published in the weekly edition of the FFI Practitioner. The Precis are written within 1000 words and cover three areas; an introduction, findings of the study and implications.

Reading a couple of precis gave me the confidence to write one, and I will suggest others to give it a try.  Now, it is not the only method, there are other methods as well as plenty of resources available to help a researcher to learn to write academically but then, academic writing is a skill and can only be acquired through hands-on experience i.e you have to write first in order to learn.

For those interested to read a precis. I am writing the link below

https://digital.ffi.org/editions/researchapplied-fbr-precis-for-ffi-practitioner/

Hope you give a try for writing one soon.

Please Share your thoughts