CJA/JCA Guidelines for Book Reviewers

Canadian Journal of Archaeology - Book Reviews

Guidelines for Reviewers

Reviews should be a maximum of 2,000 words in length, but we encourage shorter reviews. In fact, an excellent and succinct review can be written in about 1,000 words or so; brevity is a virtue.

For those new to writing academic book reviews, a good review is more than a summary of the book. While a chapter-by-chapter approach to a review is not “wrong”, it is not necessary; the best reviews take on the book as a whole. Again, shorter is generally better (unless you are writing a review essay), so steer clear of lengthy summaries and a breakdown of each chapter.

We suggest the following as a good structure for a book review. You do not need to have things in this precise order (for example the central theme or principal argument might be included with the summary), but this is generally what we would like to see:

  • Introduction: Start by addressing central theme or principal argument of the book. What is the author trying to say? Do they achieve it? You might also include a reference to the author(s)’s expertise
  • A brief summary
  • Your evaluation/critical assessment:
    • The strengths and weaknesses of the book
    • Your assessment of the strengths and weaknesses. Here you should explain your evaluation and draw on specific examples from the text that support your evaluation.
  • Conclusion: How does the book (or does it) contribute to the discipline in a meaningful way. Who should read this book and why?

Reviews should start off with, in the following order: title, author, publisher, publisher location, number of pages, ISBN, whether paperback or hardcover, cost and date. If both paperback and hardcover versions are available, indicate ISBN and cost for both. If you are missing any of this information, please check the publisher’s website or, failing that, notify the book review editor. Please examine recent CJA issues for examples. The following examples are meant to illustrate punctuation, capitalization, bolding and overall format.

Prehistoric Native Americans and Ecological Change: Human Ecosystems in Eastern North America Since the Pleistocene
by Paul A. Delcourt and Hazel R. Delcourt. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge. 203 pp. ISBN 0-521-6627-2 (hardcover) US$121.95. 2004.

Emerging From the Mist: Studies in Northwest Coast Culture History
edited by R.G. Matson, Gary Coupland, and Quentin Mackie. UBC Press, Vancouver. xii+336 pp. ISBN 0-7748-0981-7 (hardcover) $95. ISBN 0-7748-0982-5 (paperback) $49.95. 2003.

For general format, please consult reviews in recent issues of the journal. A CJA style guide (for articles, but formatting information is applicable to reviews) is available in the CJA section of the CAA website.

You may cite references in your review following the style for book reviews in American Antiquity. For example, if you are referencing Delcourt and Delcourt 2004 in the review, you would include in parentheses (Delcourt and Delcourt, Prehistoric Native Americans and Ecological Change 2004).  Please consult recently published book reviews for appropriate format for referencing other types of sources.

The reviewer’s name and professional affiliation should be placed last. As examples:

George C. Shovel            or        
Northern Pines Consulting                
Edmonton, Alberta       


Jane L. Smith
Department of Anthropology
University of Nunavut

As the review has to be reformatted for the journal, avoid all unnecessary formatting. Don’t use headers or footers, pagination, section or page breaks, non-standard margins, tabs, etc. Use block paragraphs.

All reviews should be submitted as Word documents, sent directly to the book review editor (at bookrevieweditor@canadianarchaeology.com) by email attachment.

Reviews should be completed and sent to the book review editor within six months of receipt of the book. Failure to submit the review in a timely fashion may result in a request for return of the book or rejection of the review for publication.

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The Canadian Journal of Archaeology is published by the Canadian Archaeological Association.
Aspen Woods Postal Outlet, Box 15075
Calgary, Alberta  T3H 0N8, Canada

ISSN: 0705-2006 (print)  |  ISSN: 2816-2293 (online)