How to Write a Scholarly Book Review. Scholarly book reviews differ from other reviews because they cater to a scholarly audience and cover a scholarly text. The elements that you should include in the review and the ways in which you should discuss the book are unique to a scholarly audience. While the process takes some practice to master, a few simple steps can help you write a scholarly book review.
Begin your review with a citation of the book that includes the author, title, city of publication, publishing house and year of publication. Most citations are MLA format, although you may find it necessary to use some other style.
Keep your synopsis of the book's action or contents very brief. Most scholars want to know about a book's scholarly merits first. You can write about, and contextualize, the specifics of the author's argument as you assess the material.
Discuss the book's strengths and weaknesses. If you think the author has taken an odd approach to his subject, you should say so. On the other hand, if you think the author is doing innovative work you should explain why and in detail.
Decide whether the author is credible. Scholarly books generally address a problem or issue within one particular field, and the author should use other sources from her field to back up her argument. If she fails to do so, you should point out the flaw.
Evaluate the author's sources. As a critic and writer of a review, you have every right to make a judgement about whether or not the author of the book you're reviewing has put in the amount of research needed to write on his topic.
Mix up your commentary to avoid giving a chapter-by-chapter evaluation of the book. Even though it might seem systematic and organized to do so, chapter evaluations are considered amateurish and a waste of space when writing a scholarly book review. Instead, touch on points that you find the most important.
Remain civil at all times. Sometimes it's tempting to add a flourish of snarky wit to a book review, but it's better to keep your tone professional and your criticism constructive. The scholarly community is a small one, so you don't want to burn any bridges.