LINGUIST List 5.940

Wed 31 Aug 1994

All: Review Editor and Guidelines

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  1., Review Editor and Guidelines

Message 1: Review Editor and Guidelines

Date: Wed, 31 Aug 1994 16:49:35 Review Editor and Guidelines
From: <>
Subject: Review Editor and Guidelines

We would like to announce that LINGUIST has had a change
in Review Editors. Barbara Johnstone is retiring
because she has become the Graduate Advisor at Texas A&M
and no longer has the time to work with LINGUIST. We
thank her sincerely for helping us get the review
process started: without her clear-thinking and hard
work, we would not have been able to initiate the Book
Discussion Forum.

Daniel Seely, a syntax professor at Eastern Michigan U.,
has agreed to serve as Review Editor in Barbara's place.
We want to welcome him and to ask that, in future, all
books for discussion, all requests to review a book, and
all book reviews be addressed to Daniel at :

This seems a good time to evaluate our book-discussion
policies and to request any suggestions and comments
you may have. In general, the book discussions seem to
us to be working well. Past reviews have been
thoughtful, interesting, and fair. And we want to thank
this year's reviewers for having set such a valuable
precedent, because we have discovered that LINGUIST
reviews, being the first to appear on most books,
sometimes have considerable influence. In order to
maintain this tradition. Daniel has composed some
Guidelines to send out to prospective reviewers; and we
have also been thinking about instituting the following
new procedures:

1) We would like to ask for and offer more information
about the reviewer. That is, when prospective reviewers
contact Daniel about reviewing a book, we would like
them to include a line or two about their research
interests and academic background. A similar 2-3 line
bio would appear at the end of each review.

2) We have been wondering if we are adequately taking
advantage of the potential of the electronic medium-
specifically, its ability to generate, not just
traditional reviews, but also _discussion_ of the book.
Of course, some books will always generate more
discussion than others, either because of the nature of
the book or because the reviewer has raised interesting
points and given enough information to allow others to
comment. But, to further encourage discussion, we are
thinking about asking publishers to send us 2 copies of
the book, so that we can sometimes post 2 different
evaluations--or at least have 2 persons qualified to

Similarly, we are considering sending the author of the
book a copy of the review(s) 1 week before posting, so
that the author's response, if any, can be posted with
the review. The idea here is not to allow authors to
change the review before it's sent out, but rather to
be able to respond to it right away.

Below are the guidelines Daniel has drafted to send out
to prospective reviewers. If you have the time, please
look them over and let us know if there are things we've
forgotten or changes you would suggest.

Thanks for your help.

-Helen and Anthony

 ------Guidelines for Reviewers---------------

Dear LINGUIST Reviewer,

Thank you for your willingness to write a book review
for LINGUIST. We hope that the information and
suggestions presented here will be useful.

LINGUIST now has some 5,000 subscribers from over 50
countries, representing practically every speciality of
the field. One of LINGUIST's goals is to foster
communication across national and sub-disciplinary
boundaries; and that objective motivates some of the
suggestions that follow:

In terms of factual information, each review should

 A. A heading giving _title, author, and publisher._

 B. A _synopsis_ of the book. Ideally, this should
be detailed enough to entice specialists but
intelligently general enough to inform the non
specialist. You might keep in mind that LINGUIST offers
us a way to inform ourselves of the developments in
other sub-fields, and many subscribers read the reviews
primarily for this reason.

 C. A _critical evaluation._ As is normally the
case in reviews, the reviewer should point out merits
and defects, identify problems, ask questions, and
present positive or negative implications of the
analysis. However, there are special features of the
LINGUIST discussion forum: because of the speed of e
mail, LINGUIST reviews are often the first evaluations
of a book available to the linguistic community; and,
unlike paper journals, LINGUIST not only encourages
authors and readers to reply, but also offers them the
immediate opportunity to do so.

 D. A _short biography_ of the reviewer. At the
end of the review, please provide a sentence or two
about your own research interests and give your academic

Some practical considerations:

 A. Although there is no official length
restriction, most reviews are under 2000 words.

 B. Please avoid acronyms and either avoid or
explain vocabulary specific to your sub-discipline.
Remember that the review will be read by an
international community and by individuals not in your
own sub-discipline.

 C. We ask that the review be submitted within 4
weeks of receiving your copy of the book. Send the
review, by e-mail, to: (Daniel Seely)

 D. Keep a copy of your review, just in case a re
posting becomes necessary.

If you would like to see a sample review, let us know
and we will send you one via e-mail. And if you have
any other questions or comments, please feel free to
contact one of us. Thank you again for your willingness
to write a review.

Daniel Seely, Review Editor <>
Anthony Aristar, Moderator <>
Helen Dry, Moderator <>
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