Reviewer Guidelines

Spenser Review:

Guidelines for Reviewers

(Text based on Bryn Mawr Classical Review and Notre Dame Philosophical Review guidelines):

  • In agreeing to publish a review in Spenser Review, the reviewer retains the copy right to the review and gives SpR the right to the first publication of that review, and for six months from the date of publication in Spenser Review, the right of sole publication.
  • Reviews will be submitted to a review process by the editorial team. Changes needed, but not simple corrections, will be discussed with the reviewer.
  • Contributors should feel free to develop their reviews as they think best, within the following broad constraints.
  • Reviewers of monographs should provide an account of the book as a whole, not just of one part or aspect, except where a book contains only a section or chapter on Spenser, where the focus will normally be on that section.
  • Reviewers should ensure that the opening paragraph give a clear idea of the contents and nature of the book together with the reviewers general attitude to it. This should be short enough to fit roughly in one screenful in a browser. In particular in a forum such as Spenser Review that provides longer reviews than a print journal typically does, it is important the reader be able quickly and accurately to assess whether they should read further.
  • Reviewers of anthologies should give an overall sense of the contents. They may, if appropriate, choose to focus on a subset of the essays for detailed discussion.
  • The review should offer an evaluation of at least some key aspects of the book and not merely provide a summary.
  • It is also important to give reasons and evidence for evaluations, particularly negative evaluations
  • Reviews should normally fall within the range of 1500-2500 words. Reviewers who think a book requires longer or shorter treatment should check with the editors.
  • Please do not abbreviate names of authors.
  • A primary goal of Spenser Reviewis to provide timely reviews of new books. Therefore, a review is due no later than three months after the reviewer receives the book.

Content of Reviews:

We expect that reviews will have:

  • a brief summary of the book's content and purpose, indicating its major sections;
  • an assessment of the argument and the use of evidence;
  • a discussion of its place in current scholarship, i.e., aspects of the book which the reviewer thinks are important and innovative or of doubtful success or value;
  • notice of factual errors and their gravity (presentation or appearance should generally be ascribed to the press, and content to the author);
  • notice of misprints that might mislead the reader.

We expect that reviews will not have:

  • attacks for not being the book you would have written;
  • ad hominem arguments;
  • longwindedness;
  • excessive quotation, either of the book or of primary sources

    Note:  Because the editorial staff does not always have ready access to copies of material under review, we ask that contributors carefully double-check their quotations.

    Additional Guidelines for Reviews of Digital Projects:


    • A good review of an electronic project addresses the same audience and performs the same balancing act of open-mindedness and skepticism as a good review of a print project, but it may also need to explain tools and techniques that are unfamiliar to a significant portion of that audience.
    • Discuss as much of the technology and non-traditional methodology behind the project as necessary but no more. Specifically, if particular digital methods and materials are integral to the intellectual achievement of the project, explain how they work for the benefit of the non-specialist, but avoid making such matters as software architecture or social media buzzwords the primary focus of the review.
    • Because of the work-in-progress nature of many digital projects, be prepared to evaluate not only current usefulness but also future directions and signs of ongoing development and support.



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