Assignment: Critical Research Book Review
The goal of this assignment is to encourage students to critique (this does not mean criticize) and engage with scholarly writing about contemporary urban life in the United States. In doing so, student must draw both on course content and students’ own secondary research.
Reviews must include / accomplish the following:
1. Introduce (10 points)
Write an introduction that describes the book as a whole and identifies particular theme(s) or topic(s) discussed by the author that deserve further attention and research. Students will need to conduct further research and reading on topic(s) for a variety of reasons: (i) the topic was inadequately, inappropriately or inaccurately addressed by the author, or (ii) the topic is of great concern or relevance to a particular city, group of people or set of issues outside the scope of the book. Other reasons may also be given – it is okay to be creative – but students must maintain a clear link between their research and the book being reviewed.
2. Justify Topic / Argument (15 points)
nStudents must explain why they have chosen their topic and why it deserves further attention / additional research.
nStudents must articulate a claim about the author’s discussion, research and conclusions of their chosen topic.
oCan you think of examples?
3. Research and Evidence (35 points)
Here students will mobilize the secondary research they have conducted – reading journal articles and books, and collecting data in other ways – in support of their argument(s). Your primary argument should be supported by at least two scholarly sources (peer-reviewed journal articles) before turning to popular media sources. This is the main section of your review. This is where you delve more deeply into the author’s arguments and put them into conversation with your own ideas, and findings and arguments of other authors. Make sure that you cite all of sources in text (Kear 2018) and in your final bibliography.
4. Conclusion (10 Points)
Students will provide a summary of their findings in relation to the broader themes of the book. If they wish, students may also provide suggestions about who might enjoy/benefit from reading the book.
5. Bibliography (10 points)
Students will provide a list of references with all of the sources cited in the text of their review. Sources not referenced in text should not be included in the bibliography. Bibliographies should include a minimum of 3 high-quality sources (i.e. peer-reviewed journal articles or book chapters, reports produced by think tanks or government agencies, and books). Please use APA format.
6. Form (25 points)
Students will conform to the word count of 1000 words and maintain a focused review with minimal “fluff” in the text. The review will demonstrate an excellent grasp of English grammar and syntax, and be thoroughly proofread. The
topic and purpose should be introduced in the first paragraph and throughout the short introduction, each paragraph should begin with a strong topic sentence and close with a clear transition sentence, and the primary argument should be reviewed in the conclusion. Students should avoid using slang and clichés, rather, this assignment should be approached as though it is intended to be published in an academic journal. Many academic journals publish books reviews that you may want to consider as models/inspiration.
Length: 1,000 words minimum
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