Saturday, December 5, 2009

Rodney Dangerfield and Writing a Review Article

I am getting ready to write a review article for a journal and I am wondering, 'What makes for a good review article'? I've published these in the past and I thought I'd ask, 'What do you hope to find when you start to read a review article'? One article I read called review articles the 'Rodney Dangerfield of [academic] writing'. Why is it that these essays get so little respect, when they often have quite useful information?
Dobri Atanassov Batovski notes that 'a review article is expected to provide a summary and/or a synthesis of the findings of selected research contributions being published by other authors. The main purpose of a review article is to examine the current state of the relevant publications on a given topic and to initiate a discussion about the research methodologies and the findings related to the said topic'. Is this a valid and achievable goal?

I realize that there are at least two types of review articles: (1) an essay that reviews multiple books in an extended manner and provides pan-book remarks. (2) an extended argument dealing with one book, e.g. an review that addresses individual essays in a compilation (a review article on a monograph would be included here). The one I am currently writing is on one book that is a compilation of essays by various NT scholars.

Those interested, can see a recent review article that I wrote that looked at three books on identity formation in the New Testament. It is entitled, 'Christian Identity - Created or Construed' Journal of Beliefs and Values (2009) 30.1: 71-77. So, what makes for a good review article?