Critical Book Reviews/Marking Template


Students will be expected to produce three critical reviews -- one for each of the two books assigned for the class and a third which considers both books together.

Late/Extensions: Extensions will be granted only in cases of medical emergency providing the student produce medical documentation.  No extensions on or after the due date will be granted under any circumstances.  A penalty of 5% (out of 100%) will be assessed for each day or part thereof for late papers.

Style: Reviews must be of acceptable academic style and content including footnotes and bibliography. (Students should purchase a copy of Essays and Reports: A Handbook available in the UW Bookstore.)
 

Critical Book Reviews (Individual Books)

Write a critical review of one of the assigned books for this course focusing on the author's contribution to the debate regarding the effects of globalization and/or Americanization on Canadian public policy.

Length:    Critical reviews should be no more than 1000 words. (4 pages, double-spaced, 12 point font)

Due Date:    Reviews of Teeple, Globalization and the Decline of Social Reform are due in class on October 7th.  Reviews of Watson are due November 4th.

In the review, you should identify the central argument as well as the approach of the author and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the analysis. The following points should be covered:

Critical Review (Multiple Works):

Write a critical review of the assigned books for this course focusing on the authors' contributions to the debate regarding the effects of globalization and/or Americanization on Canadian public policy.

Length:    Reviews should be no more than 2000 words. (8 pages, double-spaced, 12 point font not including endnotes or bibiliography.)

Due Date:  December 2, 2002.

In the review, you should identify the central argument as well as the approach of the author and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of their analysis focusing on what you think are the most important issues to arise from a consideration of the questions outline above. The following points should also be considered:


SAMPLE BOOK REVIEW

For some tips on writing a critical book review and a sample of a review, see Boychuk, Review of Burke, Shields and McBride, Canadian Public Policy, forthcoming. [MS-Word][html]
 

431/633 ASSIGNMENT GRADING TEMPLATES

 

CRITICAL BOOK REVIEWS (Individual)

STRUCTURE AND PRESENTATION

1.) Does the paper include a strong thesis statement which clearly outlines the argument that the paper will make and the ground that it will cover in doing so? (/5)

2.) Is the paper logically structured so that it is clear where the argument is going and how the different sections fit together? (/10)
 

RESEARCH/READING

3.) Is it clearly demonstrated that the student has a high level of familiarity with the readings? Is it clearly demonstrated through the discussion in the paper that the student has a good understanding of the central arguments/points of the reading? (/35)

4.)  Is the student able to consider the arguments from a broader point of view than that presented within the readings themselves (e.g. placing works within the broader context of other readings in the course and considering their implications for issues other than those explicitly raised in the readings)? (/35)

5.) Is the overall assessment compelling?  (On balance, how strong is the the logic, evidence and presentation of the central argument of the review?) (/15)
 

/100

 

431/633 ASSIGNMENT GRADING TEMPLATES

 

CRITICAL BOOK REVIEWS (Multiple Works)

STRUCTURE AND PRESENTATION

1.) Does the paper include a strong thesis statement which clearly outlines the argument that the paper will make and the ground that it will cover in doing so? (/5)

2.) Is the paper logically structured so that it is clear where the argument is going and how the different sections fit together? (/10)
 

RESEARCH/READING

3.) Is it clearly demonstrated that the student has a high level of familiarity with the readings? Does the student demonstrate well how the two readings fit together -- in which ways the complement each other, in which ways there is tension between them? (30)

5.) Is the student able to consider the arguments from a broader point of view than that presented within the readings themselves (e.g. placing works within the broader context of other readings in the course and considering their implications for issues other than those explicitly raised in the readings)? (/35)

6.) Is the overall assessment compelling?  (On balance, how strong is the the logic, evidence and presentation of the central argument of the review?) (/15)

/100



 

THESIS STATEMENT/ORGANIZATION

A central element in a paper's organization is the thesis statement which usually appears a the end of the introductory paragraph.  The thesis statement outlines the central argument as well as the ground the paper will cover in establishing this argument so that the reader can assess the logic of the argument and the evidence supporting it as the paper proceeds. (The reader shouldn't need to wait for the last page to find out that "the butler did it.")  Thus, the thesis statement must not simply state the topic area but also the substance of the paper's central argument.

The following example is based on hypothetical assignment which asks students to consider the implication of a particular bureaucratic reform, how it fits with Canadian bureaucratic conventions and its implications for democracy.

Topic Statement (=unacceptable!)

This paper will review Burke, Moore and Shields, Restructuring and Resistance.

This paper will review Burke, Moore and Shields, Restructuring and Resistance and consider whether it achieves its goal of examining “the political meaning and social implications of neo-liberal adjustment in Canada.”

Weak Thesis Statement

Burke, Moore and Shields, Restructuring and Resistance provides important (and welcome) challenges to some of the central propositions that have dominated debates of neo-liberal restructuring in Canada but ultimately suffers from some serious weaknesses.
 


Thesis Statement

While it provides some important (and welcome) challenges to some of the central  propositions that have dominated debates on neo-liberal restructuring in Canada, Burke, Moore and Shields' Restructuring and Resistance rests on the largely unexamined acceptance of the assumption that more open democratic politics will foster resistance to neo-liberal restructuring.

STRUCTURE AND ORGANIZATION

While a strong thesis statement is central in creating a coherent, logically flowing structure, the author needs to make sure that each new element or sub-point (usually each new paragraph in a short paper) is linked clearly back to the central argument outlined in the thesis statement.  Each paragraph requires a strong topic sentence -- the reader should not have to guess what idea the paragraph is presenting.  In order to make sure there is overall coherence to paper, you should also make sure that the topic sentence of each paragraph clearly relates the central idea in the paragraph back to the central argument of the thesis statement. (Again, the reader should not have to make the link.)  One way to check whether this has been achieved is to read only the thesis statement and the topic sentence of each paragraph in the rest of the paper.  These elements should flow together smoothly, follow each other logically, be clearly linked to each other, and present a good bare bones overview of the thrust of the paper.

Finally, the conclusion of the paper should restate the central argument of the paper in a single concluding statement.  In restating the argument, the conclusion should not introduce any new elements that were not discussed earlier on in the paper.  Only after the argument of the paper is clearly restated should the conclusion move on to placing the argument in a broader context -- for example, identifying other issues raised by the argument or the broader implications of the conclusion of the paper.