Skip to content


Can a soft path approach to water management fix Cape Town’s water crisis?

While I work on urban water governance issues, I’m not an expert on every city, and particularly, I am wary of offering any “silver bullet” kind of solutions to drought crises because cities are heterogeneous entities and therefore there is no single policy decision that will have the necessary impact. When I first started reading about Cape Town’s water crisis, my first thought was “why not apply a soft path approach?

Fuentes Danzarinas (Parque Tres Centurias)

The soft path approach to water management is predicated on the premise that behavioural change can occur and water demand can be properly managed in a way that reduces stress on urban infrastructure and reduce challenges facing cities. I first heard about the soft path when I started working with one of my students on a paper, and when I first met Dr. David Brooks (with whom I share the privilege of being an editorial board member of Water International, the journal). Dr. Brooks has championed the notion of a soft path to water management.

The soft path to water management would seem like the logical trajectory to ensuring Cape Town would not run out of the vital liquid by the third week of April, as it is predicted. Though some analysts (like Dr. Anne Van Loon, University of Birmingham) appear to be confident that Cape Town could learn from other cities that have faced severe water shortages, like Sao Paulo, others (like Dr. Anthony Turton, a South African scholar of water governance) would seem to be less so, particularly given water utilities’ and local government behaviour in a context of widespread corruption.

Park City (Utah) and Silver Baron Lodge (Park City, UT)

My own view (given that many of the cities that I study are facing critical water stress) is that we probably need a mixture of soft path and hard path approaches, but since I know very little about the geo-hydrology of Cape Town and behaviour of South African water users, I’m very wary of wanting to propose a solution. But I do see that this will be a critical case for other cities to follow closely, because from the information I’ve been getting, the situation is quite critical. Not sure if a soft path management approach will be enough, to be quite honest, but I do look forward to seeing how the situation develops.

What worries me is that even though the concept of water recycling and the value of wastewater treatment is now en vogue (thanks to the World Water Assessment Programme’s 2018 report on wastewater as an untapped resource), I have been calling for a reconsideration of wastewater as a resource since 2004 and it’s 2018 and we are still not treating 100% of our wastewater, and we’re not recirculating it to our water systems, and we continue building houses and expanding cities, and covering areas where recharge could occur. Human behaviour in the face of a water crisis continues to be incredibly stupid, and I don’t know whether we will be able to change it in the near future, or fast enough to solve looming crises like Capetown’s.

You can read some more stuff on the soft path management approach here, and here, and here, here and here.

Posted in academia, water governance, water insecurity, water policy, water stress.

Tagged with , , , .


Forward citation tracing and backwards citation tracing in literature reviews

One of the skills I teach my students and research assistants on a regular basis is a method to find new citations across the literature. That’s what I (and others) call citation tracing.

The examples I use here come from a Google Scholar search, but you can extend the method to Web of Science, WebMD, and other databases.

Forward citation tracing:

Refers to the process of finding the newest articles, books or book chapters that cite a particular paper, book, or book chapter. I call it “forward citation tracing” because you are going forward from the date when the reference you’re alluding was published. So, for example, a forward citation tracing on my 2015 Review of Policy Research paper on transnational environmental activism will give me 7 citations, which I can then look through in order to see

forward citation tracing 1

Doing a forward citation tracing exercise can allow us to stay in touch with the most relevant research that is following a specific topic.

Backward citation tracing:

For me, backward citation tracing is key because it allows me to see if an author has omitted any crucial citations, or whether I can learn more from the texts they cited. This is an important exercise for my students and research assistants as well because they can see why a particular article they’re reading has gaps.

Another way to call forward and backward citation tracing is “Ascendancy Searches” and “Descendency” – which is basically searching up and down for citations.

Posted in academia, research, writing.

Tagged with , .


An improved version of the Drafts Review Matrix – responding to reviewers and editors’ comments

This 2018 I promised myself I would do things better and take time to reflect on how my processes have evolved and therefore, I wanted to share a couple of improvements I made to the Drafts Review Matrix I discussed in previous years. This time, I’ll share also a couple of things I do with regards to the process of responding to reviewers and editors’ comments and dealing with Revise-and-Resubmits (or rejections that I then resubmit to a different journal).

Workflow: Finishing a paper

First, a comment on process, which I believe was lost in previous discussions: when I am dealing with comments from book editors, or reviewer comments, I create a Drafts Review Matrix, which I often print out, and fill out by hand, but I now generally work online off the printed version of the comments. Also, I ONLY work at my desk with the materials associated with the R&R or edited chapters: the printed version of my paper, and a grid paper notepad (a graph notepad).

AcWri setup

You may ask yourselves, why don’t I work the edits off my Everything Notebook? The answer is this: I use this graph notepad to jot down ideas on how I’m going to deal with specific comments, or to note which references I need to search, and then I use those comments to fill the Drafts Review Matrix. Since those quick scribbles are an intermediate step to actually revising the manuscript, I don’t want them to fill up valuable (and scarce!) pages off my Everything Notebook.

The new Drafts Review Matrix looks something like I show below.

drafts review matrix for Tosun Howlett

This particular one is for a book chapter I’m writing for a book on national policy styles edited by Mike Howlett and Jale Tosun. As you can notice, I put the title of the book editors at the top, but you can do this for journal article manuscripts that you are revising (substitute Reviewer 1, Reviewer 2 or Reviewer 3 at the top).

Note that my Drafts Review Matrix now has both a “Page” AND a “Reference Paragraph” column. This allows me to be even more precise than I used to be with the Comment Location column. I then follow with the “Reviewer/Editor Suggestions“. I also included a “Deadline” column to force me to commit myself to finish particular sets of revisions by a certain deadline. Moreover, I now use a “Check” column to confirm that I’ve completed the revisions suggested. And finally I’ve added a column of “Comments” because sometimes I need to do things sequentially, and this column allows me to explain to myself what I’m doing. For example, in some cases, I’ve already moved text around, and I need to make sure that I avoid duplication of efforts.

Hopefully my new version of the Drafts Review Matrix will help if you’re editing a paper (or a book or thesis!).

Posted in academia.

Tagged with , , , , .


How to write the introduction to a research paper

As I’ve noted before, many of the blog posts I write are about things that I know my own students and research assistants need (or will need). This is one of those cases. My students and research assistants often ask me “how should I write a powerful introduction?” It’s also one of the blog posts that other students and ECRs have asked me to write for a very long time. So here it is.

Writing setup at home

What is the purpose of an introduction to a paper, a journal article, a book or a dissertation?

In a recent Facebook conversation, Dr. Pat Thomson (University of Nottingham) mentioned that it was important that the writer knows what’s the purpose of the paper. Pat and her coauthor Barbara Kamler argue that the very first move of the paper is usually to LOCATE, that is, to situate the paper (or book or journal article, or thesis) within the broader theoretical and empirical literature. Having read their book I tend to agree, though in the papers that I am using as an example here, not everyone uses the exact same structure as Thomson and Kamler do. Still, Thomson and Kamler’s advice is sound and one that should be heeded when thinking about introductions. See Slide 3 in the embedded Power Point in Pat’s post on introductions.

I can’t claim that I write the best introductions, but in a similar way as I did when I wrote about the difference between description and analysis in academic writing, I have used exemplars from other scholars to offer insights into how introductions to papers, book chapters, books, and theses should be written. I tweeted an entire thread (which you can open by clicking on the tweet shown below).

There are a few methods to write introductions. Below you’ll find Dr. Jessica Calarco (Indiana University)’s formula. She breaks it down in three paragraphs:

  1. The puzzle – a synthetic summary of the literature review.
  2. The solution – a short discussion of methods and findings.
  3. The “why this solution works” – a preview of the discussion section.

When the introduction is longer than 3 paragraphs you’ll often find a method like Michael Cacciatore and coauthors:

  1. The puzzle.
  2. The challenges that the problem posing a puzzle presents.
  3. The implications of the challenges this puzzle offers.
  4. These authors’ approach.
  5. The contributions these authors make in this paper, and a paper outline.

Dr. Andrew Biro uses a 3 paragraph method as well in a recent paper he published on bottled water.

Dr. Biro’s method is:

  1. This is the puzzle we’re facing.
  2. These are the questions nobody has considered and the factors that could potentially explain these phenomena.
  3. This is how I approach the questions and answer them and provide an explanation.

I also have really enjoyed how Dr. Malini Ranganathan (American University) writes introductions. Her introductory pages are similar to those written by a human geographer and/or an anthropologist. Dr. Ranganathan offers a lot of context in her introduction in this particular paper. I found the introduction really compelling and I wanted to describe it in more detail, as her approach is also very useful.

Dr. Ranganathan’s method of writing an introduction (at least as deployed in this particular paper) can be summarized as follows:

  1. Context of the research and where this paper is situated.
  2. Description of the paper.
  3. Fit: how this paper fits within the broader literature.
  4. Contribution: a summary of this paper’s argument and how it is different from what we already know.
  5. Addition to the literature 1
  6. Addition to the literature 2
  7. Addition to the literature 3
  8. Challenges the author of this paper offers that disagree with, or prove current wisdom wrong
  9. Data sources, methods and findings.

This method is extraordinarily powerful for doctoral dissertations, 3-paper theses, and books. I do love offering contributions in groups of three, and I have noticed many writers follow this model.

Another example that I used was Dr. Chris Weible and Dr. David Carter’s paper synthesizing policy studies literature with non-profit scholarship.

This particular introduction is incredibly short and powerful. In two paragraphs, Dr. Aiyer synthesizes his entire paper.

IN SUMMARY, MY OWN APPROACH:

In my view your introduction (paper, book, book chapter, thesis) should clearly state:

  • The puzzle“this phenomenon is occurring and we don’t know why”
  • The approach - “let’s study X by doing Y and Z things”
  • The research findings/argument - “we find/we argue”, and
  • The paper’s contributions“here’s the money shot & why’s good”

While I also highlighted other authors, I wanted to keep those tweets for a future blog post on using topic sentences to anchor and write entire paragraphs. Hopefully this summary of approaches to writing introductions can be helpful to students, researchers and professors alike.

Posted in academia, writing.

Tagged with , , , .


Preparing the core elements of the PhD dissertation towards the thesis defense

Last year, my first Mexican PhD student graduated from our PhD programme in Public Policies. While I had graduated PhD students at other universities, Rafa was my first Mexican doctoral student and therefore, I was (and obviously continue to be) very invested in his success. I spent a week working with him and preparing him to defend his PhD dissertation.

PhD

One of the problems doctoral students face, and I recognise this as something that happened to me, was that towards the end of the project, they’re all ready to throw in the towel, exhausted and with no interest whatsoever in their dissertation anymore. I remember I hated mine. After all, I was already interested in, and conducting research in other areas of scholarship, very very different to anything I had studied for my doctoral dissertation. I already had conducted and completed a different project. However, I needed to finish my PhD thesis and thus I had to regain focus on a topic that I thought I hated already and was no longer interested in.

I also attended a PhD defense yesterday, which is what prompted my Twitter thread – I think it’s important that every PhD advisor teach their students about these particular issues:

  • Contribution (theoretical or empirical) to the literature. This is particularly important, and something that students should be able to state within a 90 seconds pitch. A doctoral dissertation can have empirical, theoretical or both types of contributions.
  • Position of the PhD dissertation within contemporary and classical debates. This is particularly important as it allows the student to demonstrate how they contribute (by extending X author’s scholarship, by offering a new dataset, by creating a different method to analyse a particular phenomenon, by exploring a new idea using innovative methods, etc.
  • Methodological tools, including (but not limited to) which methods they used in their dissertation/thesis papers, and which ones they didn’t, but could have if they had had the time, or access to data, etc.
  • Individual contributions of each paper (if it’s a 3-4 papers’ thesis), as well as the overall theoretical or empirical thread that makes these individual papers’ a cohesive, clear and coherent, cogent argument.
  • Limitations of the research, potential future research (including individual’s research plans) and how the thesis positions the student within the global theoretical debates and/or how it contributes empirically to our better understanding of phenomena we would not have been able to analyse better were it not for the student’s PhD dissertation.

You can read my entire thread (and responses) by clicking on the tweet above.

Posted in academia.

Tagged with .


Mapping a new field of scholarship

One of the first questions I get asked on Twitter (I’m at @raulpacheco) is: “how do I get started on X?” It’s always hard because to be perfectly honest, a lot of things I don’t even realize how I got started, I just know that I now know how to do them. And because I actually do know how to do them, I share openly with the world. Mapping new fields of scholarship is something nobody taught me how to do, but I’ve developed a strategy throughout the years that works for me, and it may work for you too.

AcWri at home - paragraphs

The process I use to map a new field of scholarship looks something like this:

  1. Decide on the topic of interest.
  2. Ask trusted advisors for suggestions of key citations and/or authors.
  3. Run a citation tracing process on the above-mentioned cites and authors.
  4. Run a Google Search for top-cited papers in the field.
  5. From Steps 3 and 4, create a mind map of key authors and topics.
  6. Choose 3-7 articles for the topic, and 3-5 for each sub-topic.
  7. Read (or if under extreme time pressure, apply AIC Content Extraction and Conceptual Synthesis Excel Dump method) to create a visual and analytical map of the field.
  8. Expand the mind-map as necessary and continue searching and reading/annotating/highlighting/scribbling until I reach conceptual saturation.

Now, let’s go through step by step:

1. Decide on the topic of interest.

Here, I knew I wanted to do a paper on informal water vending.

2. Ask trusted advisors for suggestions of key citations and/or authors.

3. Run a citation tracing process on the above-mentioned cites and authors.

I already knew that Quentin Grafton had done work on the Murray-Darling basin and on formalized water markets, so I searched for him and did a citation tracing process.

quentin grafton

4. Run a Google Search for top-cited papers in the field.

I would also add that you can run a Google Scholar Search on the authors you KNOW work in the field too.

5. From Steps 3 and 4, create a mind map of key authors and topics.

This is where asking authors, or meeting them at conferences helps. I know several of the authors I have mentioned very well, including Michelle Kooy (who like me did her PhD at UBC), Malini Ranganathan, etc.

6. Choose 3-7 articles for the topic, and 3-5 for each sub-topic

Here, I knew I needed to read Michelle Kooy, Amber Wutich, Andrea Marston (I’ve already read them, but again, let’s assume I haven’t – my mind-map and Conceptual Synthesis Excel Dump both show I would need to read them in order to get a grasp on the field of water and informality)

7. Read (or if under extreme time pressure, apply AIC Content Extraction and Conceptual Synthesis Excel Dump method) to create a visual and analytical map of the field.

8. Expand the mind-map as necessary and continue searching and reading/annotating/highlighting/scribbling until reaching conceptual saturation.

While I have a good mind-map of what the field of water informality and the continuum/spectrum/divide of formal and informal water markets looks like, I still need to read more to reach conceptual saturation. So, I go back to Step 1 in this process until I’ve found the right number of citations (I’ve written on this topic before, i.e. when to stop reading and how to decide when you have got enough sources and you’ve read enough).

My entire set of posts on Literature Reviews can be found here if you need to search for a specific technique I’ve mentioned in this blog post.

Posted in academia, research, writing.

Tagged with , .


Legitimising reading as a crucial component of academic writing

Like many of my fellow professors, I feel the pressure of having to continuously write scholarly papers, present them at academic conferences, submit them for peer review and publish in highly-ranked journals. I share the same responsibilities: I lead a 19 people research team in a multiple-institutions, collaborative, large-scale, multi-method research project on water conflict in Mexico. I have Masters’ and PhD students whose thesis I need to read, comment on, help refine and on top of that, I contribute service to my discipline(s), my campus, my institution and the global academic community. The other day, I found myself arriving to campus and walking to my office while talking on the phone, holding the phone on one hand while signing administrative forms with the other. A few months back, I reported on Twitter how I actually had so much stuff to do on campus that I literally did not have one second to eat lunch. I share the same pressures, even though I am single. I can’t even begin to grapple with the challenges facing academic parents/students and those who need to engage in care work, on top of everything else they have.

#AcWri setup

I’m busy. Super busy. Enjoyably ultra-busy. But one thing I can’t justify is NOT reading, because I have so much work to do. The two things I do Every Single Day is read (at least one journal article, book chapter) and write (however many words, sentences and paragraphs I can). I am tired of the trope that “the time we spend reading isn’t #AcWri“. I am, sometimes, guilty of spouting this fallacy myself.

To test this trope, last week (January 1st-5th, 2018) I experimented with literally writing out of thin air. I sat down and started typing words related to specific papers and books I’m writing. I was able to crank out 2545 NEW words in 5 days, which is what it is — as I’ve said before, I’m not obsessed with word count. I will leave the discussion on producing new words, edited words and revised words for another blog post. I wrote 2545 words without using a prompt to help me write. This process was PAINFUL. I did not allow myself any reading. I was simply supposed to WRITE.

AcWri process (15 minutes)This week (January 8th-12th, 2018) I wrote stuff that was associated with several of my projects, BUT AIDED BY PROMPTS, specifically articles I had already read, or that I was reading to prepare my lecture on intractable water conflict. This integration really facilitated my progress, which I’m measuring not by the number of words I’ve written so far, but by the fact that I have begun to really grapple with some rather challenging concepts in water conflict (such as the fact that cooperation isn’t necessarily the lack of conflict). It’s really important that we realize that reading IS legitimate, and engaged reading (such as highlighting, scribbling on the margins, writing handwritten or typed notes about a journal article, book chapter, book, report, or even data table) IS part of the writing process. Reading is INTEGRAL to the academic writing process.

To share another example: this morning (Friday, January 12th, 2018) I woke up, got my coffee and spent 2 hours reading Bar-Tal’s (2000) journal article on intractable conflict resolution and reconciliation. Reading this article, highlighting key passages, finding relevant quotations, and writing (by hand) important ideas. I normally do a combined AIC Content Extraction/Conceptual Synthesis Excel Dump entry, but I knew reading Bar-Tal would give me many key ideas so I chose to do deep engagement.

Doing this allowed me to find some key ideas that I think are relevant not only to the class I’m preparing and to the topic I’m lecturing on tomorrow, but also to my own research and that of my lab. Taking the time to really sit down and read, and engage deeply with the Bar-Tal article really allowed me to create new ideas that I am sure will further my project and help us move forward, both conceptually and methodologically.

In sum, the entire point of this blog post was to remind my fellow scholars (and myself) that reading is an integral part of writing, and that if we don’t read, and make time to read, we will probably not be able to situate our scholarship within the global scholarly literature. I know we are all busy, but if I may be so bold to suggest, I strongly believe we ought to make time to read at least one journal article or book chapter a day. I know this is tough. I spent 2 hours on this particular article and I am 3 pages in (I’m doing deep-engagement instead of a simple AIC Content Extraction)! But that’s because I’ve also spent time tweeting about it and mulling over the ideas I’ve been reading.

I’ve written about this topic extensively, so here I’ll just close by sharing this post on 8 strategies to carve time to read during the semester.

Posted in academia, writing.

Tagged with , .


Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks (A Guide to Academic Success) (my reading notes)

Despite the fact that I have interacted with Dr. Wendy Laura Belcher quite a lot, we discuss academic writing almost every day, I had never written my reading notes of her book (Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks – A Guide to Academic Success, published by SAGE). Mind you, I’ve used her book on a regular basis (she calls it a workbook and I think it’s a blended mix of book that must be read and workbook that can be used to solve exercises). Anyways, I have decided to post my reading notes of her workbook.

Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks - Wendy L Belcher

I must indicate from the start what I noted on Twitter: I don’t own a copy, because SAGE put its price tag really high ($94 USD plus shipping and handling). It’s a ridiculous price given that it is targeted to students and early career scholars, groups that actually don’t have that much money. Dr. Belcher and I have discussed how absurd this price is, at length. I read, and I regularly use my own institution’s copy. But I haven’t acquired one because it’s really expensive. Nevertheless, as I’ve noted on Twitter, it’s a really, really good investment. Dr. Lisa Munro has blogged about her experience writing an article using the workbook, her first post can be found here. There are plenty of testimonials on Twitter from people who have used Dr. Belcher’s book, so I don’t think she needs any more endorsement.

Nevertheless, I wanted to note what I learned from her book here. As I have noted, one can work out of a library copy and use the free workbook forms that Dr. Belcher offers. Below, you’ll find my tweets about the book, transformed into reading notes.

As I noted, this workbook is designed to help the reader revise a draft journal article for final submission to a journal, and therefore, one could use other approaches (like the one used by the author of How to Write A Lot, Paul Silvia – I call this approach “word vomit”). The Belcher approach works for me because I am very regimented, disciplined and systematic. he The workbook is VERY structured, and it demands from the reader very specific tasks. It also forces the reader and workbook user to self-reflect on a daily basis, something the fast-paced academic environment often doesn’t allow you to do.

Week 11 on wrapping up and Week 12 on sending your article may also be conflated in 1-2 days (so it’d be 9 weeks to a journal article). Why do I like the Belcher book? Because I find the 12 weeks approach (similar to a quarter system when I teach) manageable and doable. If I were to teach academic writing Belcher’s #12WeeksJournalArticle I probably would teach it as a 9 week model for my colleagues. Or a 12 week model for my students. The workbook can even be used just for fun reading to diagnose your own writing. Overall, as I said, like the workbook and not the price. It is what it is, the author has no say. If you were to read the Spanish translation, FLACSO sells it for MUCH CHEAPER than the English one.

Posted in academia, writing.

Tagged with , , .


Shattering the bottled water market: Offering tap water through drinking water fountains

Water fountains at airportsOne of the reasons why the bottled water market remains as is (in a position of domination whereby it’s one of the top 5 most profitable businesses out there, together with scholarly publishing, and yes I recognize the irony in all of this), is the fact that there are institutional and structural factors that drive increases in bottled water consumption. One that I find particularly galling is the fact that there aren’t enough drinking water fountains within cities’ territory. Water provision is a public service that is usually the responsibility of cities. It’s one of the many public services that local governments are entrusted with, alongside garbage collection, treatment and disposal, parks and public gardens, and street road lighting. One of the many ways in which cities can reduce bottled water consumption is through the provision of public water fountains.

While drinking water fountains provide still water, and even if there’s a taste for a different type of water (like sparkling water), there are cities where you can find fountains that offer this type of offering, like Rome and Paris.

The Rome case:

Rome has unveiled a kiosk that dispenses free water, both still and sparkling, on Via dei Fori Imperiali outside the Colosseum metro station.

The Paris case:

That’s right: a public fountain that serves up sparkling water. France might be known for its bottled water — take Evian from the Alps, or a bottle of bubbly Perrier. But in Paris, the mayor is pushing people to give up the bottles in favor of tap water from the city supply. One way the city is trying to do so is to make its water more appealing.

Dr. Andrew Biro has written about how individuals may develop a taste for specific types of water (sparkling or “gourmet”) and Dr. Rachel Black has developed the notion that Acqua Minerale di Sangemini (mineral water of Sangemini) gained a place at the table. If this is the type of water that needs to be supplied to entice individuals to switch back from bottled to tap water, then so be it.

Posted in academia, bottled water.

Tagged with .


Writing a book review

Writing book reviews, to me, feels as the service we all ought to provide other scholars. I don’t post actual reviews on my website (instead, I post my reading notes because I don’t know if my notes are detailed enough to be an actual review, and whether I’ll do justice to the author), but I do have extensive experience writing reviews. Producing a book (or even editing a volume) is a tremendously challenging and taxing endeavour, so I believe book reviews should be done thoroughly, kindly and honestly.

Workflow

For many of my colleagues, assigning a book review (or a book review essay) is part of their teaching process. I don’t do this in my classes, and never have, even in graduate school courses. But I have written and published book reviews myself in various journals (my most recent one of Plastic Water, by Hawkins, Potter and Race in the Canadian Journal of Water Resources). While different people (and evaluation committees) will value book reviews differently, for many folks publishing a book review will be a nice entry into the world of academic publishing.

For me, a good review should include at the very least the following elements:

  • Full citation and price of the book.
  • A summary of the book’s major insight(s), usually worded in the nicest way possible.
  • A detailed account, chapter by chapter, of the best elements learned in the book.
  • A summary of everything good and bad about the book, again, usually worded in a nice but rigorous way.

There are a few book reviews that are a bit more picturesque (like this one, which starts with a lovely memory that brings the author of the review home with regards to what they want to say about the book) or more systematic and direct, like this one that summarizes the book concisely and swiftly.

For me, the actual physical process of writing a book review goes like this (bear in mind I’ve already written about how to read entire volumes, both single-or-multi-authored and edited):

  1. I start by skimming the entire book really quickly.
  2. I read the introduction and conclusion.
  3. I make a plan to read the entire book, if I can’t in one sitting, which chapters I’ll be reading over however long I decide to take to finish the review, unless I’m under deadline.
  4. I follow the plan, usually reading and taking handwritten notes about the book chapter(s) in my Everything Notebook (or typing detailed notes in a memorandum).
  5. I write up the review as noted above, but reserve criticisms to the very last paragraph of the review.
  6. I send it out to people whom I trust and ask them to see if my review was too harsh.
  7. I edit the review according to feedback I receive.

You can read my review of Emily Boyd and Carl Folke’s edited volume “Adapting Institutions: Governance, Complexity and Social-Ecological Resilience” as published in Global Environmental Politics here.

My hope is that this post will help those who are writing book reviews. As always, be honest and direct, but also kind and generous. You can always write a detailed review that is tough, but that can be palatable and find the good elements of a book. Someone on my Twitter timeline recommended these 3 rules about book reviewing post, also worth considering.

Another solid example of a book review as published in Canadian Food Studies can be found here (thanks Dr. Sarah Martin for this piece!)

Dr. Michael Leo Owens also offered one of his own book reviews for you to check out (thanks!)

Posted in academia, writing.

Tagged with , .