Writing for LSE Review of Books
LSE Review of Books is a forum to encourage engagement with the latest academic publications across the social sciences and the humanities. While our main content is book reviews, we also publish other features including bookshop guides, ‘Long Read’ review essays and ‘The Materiality of Research’ essay series.
If you are interested in contributing a book review, you may like to look at the available titles for review in your disciplinary fields. Potential new contributors are kindly asked to contact the Managing Editor, Anna D’Alton, at email@example.com about the books you are interested in reviewing for the blog; please include information about your research interests and experience. When requesting to review a book, please do let us know if you have an existing personal or professional relationship with the book’s author or editor. We request that contributors are studying for or have attained a doctorate and have equivalent professional experience in the relevant field.
These guidelines are designed to help potential reviewers when writing their reviews for LSE Review of Books. If you have any additional questions, please contact the Managing Editor, Anna D’Alton, at firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also like to read these guides to writing the introductions to book reviews and reviewing edited collections.
Length and Format
- We ask for reviews to be around 1,000 words in length. This typically equates to around 8 to 10 short paragraphs.
- Please send completed reviews in a Word document, along with a short biography, on or before your deadline to email@example.com. Please remember to include the full publication details of the book under review.
- Please stick to your deadline as closely as possible; this will usually be 6-8 weeks. However, we are happy to fit to upcoming work schedules, so if you are struggling to meet the agreed date, please contact the Managing Editor to arrange a new submission date.
- Our aim is to increase engagement with the social sciences. Your review should therefore be written with a relatively wide audience in mind, including students at various levels of study, academics, policymakers, journalists and members of the public.
- Page numbers for quotes are optional, but it can be useful to provide them.
- Please convert bullet points into full paragraphs.
- We use links rather than citations for references. Links should be used to direct readers to more detailed reports or associated research, news items or other blog posts. Open access sources are preferred over ones behind paywalls.
- We use double rather than single quotation marks.
- Our reviews also use UK spelling: for example, ‘centre’ rather than ‘center’ and ‘organisation’ instead of ‘organization’.
Best Practice Examples
If you’d like to get a sense of what we’re looking for, here is a selection of best practice examples we have published:
- Tyranny of the Minority by Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt, review by Larry Patriquin
- Black Enlightenment by Surya Parekh, review by Lilly Markaki
- Values, Voice and Virtue: The New British Politics by Matthew Goodwin, review by Vladimir Bortun
- The Gender of Capital by Céline Bessière and Sibylle Gollac, review by Khushbu Sharma
- Queer Kinship: Race, Sex, Belonging, Form edited by Tyler Bradway and Elizabeth Freeman, review by Ry Montgomery
Editing Process and Publication
- Submitted reviews and articles will be reviewed by the Managing Editor, who will undertake a copy-edit and proofread of the piece to enhance readability, minimise typographical errors and ensure factual accuracy.
- You will then be sent feedback and a copy-edited version of the essay. You will be given the opportunity to respond to comments and to undertake any further edits before a final version is agreed.
- Minor edits are made to nearly all submitted reviews and essays. Typically, these are made for stylistic reasons; however, you may be asked to provide more detail on a particular argument, to double-check factual claims or to provide additional links to supporting information. All substantial changes will be agreed with authors before publication.
- Once a review essay is published on the blog, you will be notified and a link to the review will be sent through to you.
Managing Life and Reviews
- If you think you might have to submit later than planned, just drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to let us know. We can work out a new deadline that takes the pressure off.
- We are always happy to be flexible with deadlines for reviewers who are dyslexic or have other neurolinguistic identities.
- We are also a ‘family-friendly’ review site and are happy to delay deadlines when new family members come along or other circumstances arise.
First-Time Reviewer? Tips on How to Write a Book Review
Some of the best book reviews are humorous and sharp, but descriptive and expressive reviews work just as well. Don’t be afraid to think and write creatively and passionately.
- Use these paragraphs to draw your reader in and convince them that the review is important and relevant.
- Introduce the book, its aims and any special relevance the author may have. For example, are they an academic or a prolific economist or writer? Has the author previously written an influential textbook? Is the author well known in the field?
- Does the book relate to a ‘hot topic’ on which you can draw?
- Key definitions and themes should also be included here.
- For further ideas, you might like to read our Editor’s Column on ‘How to Write a Book Review: Writing Introductions‘.
Body of the review
- Rather than go through the book chapter-by-chapter, choose two or three chapters to analyse and discuss in detail.
- Aim to give your readers a good understanding of the arguments presented in these chapters, using key quotes, statistics, anecdotes or other examples from the book.
- After introducing the arguments, comment on any strengths and weaknesses. Did you agree with the arguments the author made? Why or why not? Have other authors made a stronger case?
- Reviews need to be honest and all your own work, although it is fine to comment on how books have been received.
- Reviews also need to be fair and constructive: authors and publishers want to see balanced assessments of their output, but if a book is truly bad then do express this.
- Use the final paragraph to sum up the book in a couple of lines, commenting on the intended target audience, whether you would recommend the books or some concluding thoughts on what it might lack. You may also want to reflect on where the book fits into the current literature on the topic.