Return to the MHJ Submission Checklist.

All book reviews should conform to the MHJ Style Guide.

The Melbourne Historical Journal accepts book reviews that are consistent with the scope of the journal. We source review copies of books from publishers for our authors. We also accept exhibition and other kinds of reviews. Reviews are due in October each year. If you are interested in writing a review, please contact us to express your interest.

It is not our intention to be overly directive in the way our reviewers write their book reviews. Most graduate students have developed a personal style which is both academically astute but also accessible to readers outside their discipline.

We do, however, offer the following advice for those seeking some guidance.

  • You should present enough information to inform the reader of the book’s contents. This is accomplished in an economical fashion. A good review is not simply a summary of the book
  • Rather, the bulk of your review is your informed opinion. Do you think this book is an important contribution to your field of study? Who should read this book? What are the strengths and weakness of the study? Where does the book fit in the overall context of an academic discipline? Does the book break new ground or advance knowledge in significant ways? Does it bring a new methodology or theoretical approach to the topic?
  • Not every reviewer will answer all these questions. Considering the answers to a couple of these questions, however, will ensure critical content in your review
  • It is important to evaluate the book in terms of the author’s intentions. This is usually implicit in the introduction. How well has the writer accomplished their intended task?
  • Remember to review the book in front of you, not the book you wish the author had written. You can and should point out shortcomings or failures, but don’t criticise the book for not being something it was never intended to be
  • There is a tendency for some reviewers to be either excessively positive or unrelentlessly critical. A sophisticated review requires a balanced approach. Even a glowing review should include valid criticisms and a poorly executed book has a couple of redeeming qualities embedded in the dross and it would be fair to point these out
  • Choose quotes carefully. Short crisp quotes are better than large chunks which break up the flow of the review
  • It is a good idea to read some other academic reviews in your field to gain a sense of how to write a good review
  • All reviews should include the following information at the beginning of the review. The name of the book, the author, the publication, year of publication and  the ISBN
  • At the end you should also include your full name and place of study. Eg John Dalton, The University of Melbourne
  • Finally, as a book reviewer, part of your role is to examine the writer’s style. Is the book well written? Is it easy to understand? Does it flow well?  Is the reader jolted around by poorly written prose?  And just as you judge a book by these measures so too is your review also judged by the reader. Take this into account before sending us your final draft.
  • Book review manuscripts should be no more than 1,000 words, and have no footnotes: all references should be cited in the text of the review
    • If you quote from the book under review, please provide an in-text citation with the page number inside parentheses after the quotation marks.
    • If you reference another book, please provide an in-text citation, following the Chicago Manual of Style 16th edition
  • All reviews should conform to the MHJ Style Guide.
  • Please follow the MHJ Manuscript Submission Checklist in order to submit.

We may edit your review in terms of spelling, punctuation and grammar. We may also return your review to you if we feel it requires further changes before publication.

Obtaining a review copy

We have a few review copies that have been sent to us by publishers. You may request a list of these books but there is only a slim chance that one of these books will be within your research field. It is better, therefore, if you propose recent titles to us that you are interested in reviewing. (Please note: the Melbourne Historical Journal only accepts reviews of books that have been published in the last two years).

Once your choice of book has been approved by Melbourne Historical Journal you are free to request the book from the publisher or we can request the book on your behalf. This may take from weeks to many months. We will make every attempt to obtain review copies for our reviewers but sometimes despite our concerted efforts some publishers are simply not forthcoming. In this case the reviewer may need to source this book from their own collection or from the library.

The published reviews are sent to the publishers. Should a reviewer fail to submit a review of their requested book; the book must be returned to Melbourne Historical Journal so it can be given back to the publisher. You are free, of course, to keep any books that you have submitted reviews on.

All book reviews should conform to the MHJ Style Guide.

Return to the MHJ Submission Checklist.