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Information Literacy Archaeology: I want to find a book review


The book review is a special kind of article. It can refer to all sorts of literature, from popular to scientific. The term 'review' is also used for comments by readers in Google Books or Amazon. In this case the reader's background is irrelevant, each comment has the same value. But there is a distinct difference in quality between superficial and 'learned' comments.

The scientific review only deals with recent scientific and relevant publications. The reviewers are researchers and their intended audience is their peers. This kind of review usually describes the contents of a book or article but also contains an assessment of its quality. Scientific reviews are published in scientific journals, which makes them easily distinguishable from the reviews mentioned in the above paragraph. Scientific journals usually have a special book review section. Some journals consist solely of book reviews. They usually have the word 'review' in their title.

Academics also publish reviews in newspapers. This does not make them less valuable, but their style will be less scientific in order to appeal to a broader public. Whether or not such a newspaper review may be cited in a list of references needs to be discussed with your lecturer.

Where and how can I find a review

To assess the quality of a book it is a good idea to read reviews written by experts.

The best way to find a review is by using the book author's name and a distinguishing word from the title as search words.

Adding the term 'review' or 'book review' to your search in a database such as SmartCat or Historical Abstracts, will often give you many reviews.

There are also specialized journals or websites consisting entirely of reviews. Their titles usually contain the word 'review'.

Finding reviews in historical databases:

  • ‚ÄčHistorical Abstracts: do a search in Advanced Search and limit your search by Document Type: Book Review.
  • America: History & Life: do a search in Advanced Search and limit your search by Document Type: Book Review.

Finding reviews in general and other databases

  • SmartCat: do a search, putting the book title between double quotation marks. Then limit your search by choosing Article (= review)
  • Academic Search Premierdo a search in Advanced Search and limit your search by Document Type: Book Review.
  • JSTOR: do a search in Advanced Search and Narrow by: Reviews.

Finding book reviews using the advanced search of Google Scholar. Typ in the advanced search of Google Scholar (check the widget Advanced Search, subtab Google Scholar in the Database-tab) the title of the book in the "with the exact phrase"-field.


In Nexis Uni you can find reviews in newspapers, magazines and other news sources from around the world. Nexis Uni is a good source for reviews of recent publications. To limit your search results you can select the subject filter 'reports, reviews & sections'.

Search tip!

Search tip for finding reviews in bibliographic and other databases:

When you are searching for a review of e.g. Turks Fruit by Jan Wolkers, place the title words between double quotation marks "turks fruit" (in SmartCat) or between brackets (turks fruit) and combine this with "book review" or "review".