Writing Help: Grammar, Style & Structure

Also referred to as a book report, a book review consists of "critical comments on a book, especially when it is first published" ("Book Review, 2006). 

Similar to a short essay, a book review typically includes several of these elements:

     •  Description of the book's main topic, purpose and/or point of view, answering questions such as:

            •  What is the genre of the work (i.e. novel, non-fiction, memoir etc.)?

            •  Who is the intended audience?

            •  If a fictional work, what are the key themes, motifs, and/or plot devices?

            •  If a non-fictional work, what are the main arguments and ideas?

      •  Assessment of the book's main points, biases or flaws

      •  Critical analysis of the book's strengths and weaknesses, literary value and/or overall quality and contribution to the subject area

      •  If non-fiction, an explanation of how the book fits into the academic or popular discourse on a topic or subject area


Book Review. (2006). In P. Collin (Ed.), Dictionary of publishing and printing. London, United Kingdom: A&C Black. Retrieved from http://search.credoreference.com

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A literature review is a "comprehensive study and interpretation of literature that addresses a specific topic" (Aveyard, 2010).

Literature reviews are generally conducted in one of two ways:

1) As a preliminary review before a larger study in order to critically evaluate the current literature and justify why further study and research is required.

In this case, the researcher must "systematically search, critique and combine the literature to demonstrate a gap in the existing research base" while demonstrating "their understanding of both the research and the methods previously used to investigate the area" (Aveyard, 2010).

2) As a project in itself that provides a comprehensive survey of the works published in a particular discipline or area of research over a specified period of time.

Sometimes referred to as a systematic literature review or meta-analysis, this type of literature review is a critical survey that attempts to "evaluate and interpret all available research evidence relevant to a particular question" (Glasziou, 2001).


Aveyard, H. (2010). Doing a literature review in health and social care: A practical guide (2nd ed.). Bershire, United Kingdom: Open University Press.

Galsziou, P. (2001). Systematic reviews in health care: A practical guide. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

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