Action Research Cycle: Write a Formal Review of Literature – Step 1 Discovery

Discover: This week you will:

1. Discover what is involved in organizing and evaluating the resources you are finding in order to outline your arguments and begin to write your review of the literature. You will begin to map your discussion, reporting as you do, by week 2 how those plans are developing so that your colleagues may assist prior to the time your rough draft of your outline is due.

2. Discover that part of comprehension and expertise is the ability to demonstrate connections between various authors. The ability to come back to a resource discovered at an earlier stage and extrapolate new ideas can be the result of taking adequate notes as you read.

3. Discover and exchange ideas about how to use the electronic tools at your disposal to benefit this search.

Outcomes and Benefits to You For Doing This Work

A solid review of the literature assures you that you have a baseline of knowledge on which to begin your own research. You will know that you have reached this plateau when you can carry on an informed discussion with an expert in your field of study. Having this base of expertise will help you focus the particulars of your study and save hours of unnecessary starts and stops during the development of your final methodology, data collection and analysis.

Another benefit is that you will catch glimpses of how other researchers approached their work, including the variables you found interesting to study. This can help you craft your final research questions as well as to suggest pre-existing instruments you may want to use. You may also see that you don’t possess the necessary skills to tackle research, giving you the opportunity to build those skills or define a new methodology (Mauch & Park, 2003).

Along those same lines you will see how others write up their work. Make special note of dissertations that you find easy to read, or which discuss their methodology in a way that makes sense. Mark them in your End Note database as documents to come back to when you start to write the same sections.

Another list you will want to note is of other questions that come to mind as you write. Should it happen, you won’t be the first doctoral student who is forced by circumstance to change topic mid stream. It is useful to have noted all those, “What if?” ideas that come to your mind as you read others work. One of them may turn out to be a better redefinition of your topic area (Mauch & Park, 2003).

Finally, you will prove, at least in your own mind that your ideas are really needed in the field. When you find yourself disagreeing with an author, or saying, “Wait, you missed a whole segment of students here,” etc. you know you are on the right track. Even if you are faced with the opposite issue – here in front of you is a report that is everything you could ever dream of, this allows you to slant your work to broaden the impact of the previous work by confirming or denying it in a new arena.

Inclusion of Multiple Sources Does it seem like all your sources are saying approximately the same thing? The short answer to this question is that multiple sources are the difference between graduate research and real expertise. Searching out nuances is the standard of the expert and when you finish your final graduate work it is your goal to take you place among those people with that standard.

The stated purpose of the lit review is to, “clarify the relationship between the proposed study and previous work conducted on the topic” (Rudestam & Newton, 2007, pg 62). Other authors mention, “Obtaining detailed, cutting-edge knowledge of your topic” (Roberts, 2004, pg 73). Therefore it is important that you have truly captured the field in your study, internationally as well as nationally and locally (thus displaying the level of influence your final study is likely to have). It is your job to convince your reader of the uniqueness and importance of your study. Remember what may be obvious to you will not have the same meaning to your committee members who specialize in different parts of the field.

The trap for students in this pressure to display knowledge across many writers is that you come to think of the lit review as a laundry list of all that you have investigated. Not true, remember that each and every book or article you cite and reference must directly correspond to your final message. For this reason you may find it helpful to write a sentence per main point that you want to make and then list the references that you may use to naturally make that point. All the others fall off to the “not used” category.

Should you be researching a particularly obscure topic you may find that you do a lot of work for little gain. In this case keep two EndNote files. One will hold those few resources that you use and the other the resources you investigated but discarded. This has two positive affects: 1) it demonstrates the amount of work you have done, and 2) discussing the list you won’t use may lead your critical friends to suggest new sources to research.

Analysis, Synthesis and Organization

More than anything else, being an educated person means being able to see connections so as to be able to make sense of the world and act within it in creative ways.

W. Cronon, (as cited by Siemens. G, 2008)

The most difficult part of a review of the literature is the organization and expression of the ideas that come from what you have read. Let’s take for instance the following pattern of research

You read book by AA. Author who make three great points about your topic you label those points X, Y and Z.

You read book by BB Author who agrees with X but adds ideas M and N to the discussion.

CC Author refutes Y and Z but agrees with M and adds T.

DD Author has an entirely different idea although you see loose connections to the others. You also believe the DD has the most advanced ideas that you have read.

Students who have not analyzed, synthesized and organized their ideas will report the Author A said…. Author B said…. And Author C said…… We cannot stress enough that this IS NOT ADEQUATE FOR A LIT REVIEW! To paraphrase Hart (1998):

The aim is to show that you have mapped out the main issues on a subject; examined the use of concepts and the ways in which comparisons have and can be made, seen how complex ideas can be described; and come to an understanding on the role of methodological assumptions have had in shaping the literature that came before your study (pg. 109).

Your write up will likely contain four types of discussion: Analysis requires you to differentiate or separate resources and the ideas contained within them, one from another. Synthesis on the other hand integrates or combines separate sections of different resources together, usually reorganized to demonstrate principles that you believe to be significant in your study. Interpretation distinguishes the relationships between different types of data, theory, and arguments and hold your reader sort them out. Knowledge describes for your reader what you have learned about the situations, methods, rules, classifications, etc of the topics inherent in your study.

Your lit review will contain those four types of organization across one or many of the following.

Mapping out the issues

In the set of examples above the issues are the places where the various authors agree and disagree. You may also choose to map out the issues by using a graphic organizer to distinguish places of agreement and disagreement in any of the points of argumentation (discussed in the next section). Claims may agree or disagree across authors, as may warrants, data and the arguments we use to back up our claims. It is likely that you will go back to examine key resources more than once as you map out the issues across them.

You also may choose to map the issues in chronological, methodological or political contexts, depending on which most clearly describes the tensions inherent within your study. As an example, a study on the academic efficacy of alternative programs would have to map the issues inherent in the populations that would use the programs under study.

Examining the concepts

What are the big ideas that strike you as you read? How do they pertain as you see it to your topic? These lead to your analysis of the concepts behind or overarching your topic. An examination of the key concepts must be helpful to your research to be understood by your audience.

Part of the purpose of the review of literature is to help your reader understand what has come before as well as the key issues and concepts that are inherent in previous discussions in order to place your study in context. Look at your discussion of the concepts and ideas that has driven the work of authors in your area as your setting a firm foundation from which your reader can understand the context and importance of your work.

An analogy that may be useful is as though you have constructed a goblet out of the little bits of ideas (seen as colored glass) that you have gleaned from your reading. Once the goblet is complete you need to hold it up to the light and then discuss for your reader the ways in which the light bounces off of the different components, how you work together to form the shape, and the areas where you join to construct an object strong enough to be useful.

Describing complexity

Many times authors are studying complex adaptive issues. By definition these dismay us because they put us in the center of the tension between the ideal and reality. For instance, in perfection we might desire businesses that do everything right or schools that run perfectly. We would wish that all of the staff were happy in their work and had abundant resources at their disposal. The realities in many schools or businesses are that none of these ideals exist.

Whatever the key tensions, that surround your topic, you will need to have explored them as part of your review of the literature. This discussion is another means of ensuring your reader has adequate contextual understanding of your topic to make judgments on the efficacy of your study.

Unpacking methodological assumptions in previous studies

As you have researched your issue you have been exposed to how a variety of researchers have examined topics similar and tangential to yours. They have based their research methods on their own assumptions or understanding about how best to measure the answers to their questions. It is an appropriate discussion within a review of literature to unpack for your reader these past studies and the assumptions on which they were based. In this way, your writing will naturally flow towards your discussion of your own methodological choices in both the lit review and Chapter 3 in a dissertation or the methodology in any required research proposal.

Quantitative studies assume that enough is known about the topic and the human relationships that determine its complexities that these can be questioned across large numbers of people using a similar instrument. For years, proponents of diversity have challenged this assumption, playing on cultural differences to argue that use of language may differ among communities to the degree as to make surveys meaningless.

Qualitative studies on the other hand assume that data gathered from a few people, albeit data that create depth in understanding their personal relationships to a topic, will have significance to the whole population. Qualitative studies assume that it is important to understand the personal mechanisms within educational relationships of a few and that these can be extrapolated to the groups you represent.

Quantitative and qualitative studies read very differently and come to separate types of conclusions. Again, in order for your reader to understand your topic and the others who have studies it you need to help them understand these subtleties.

The bottom line here is: READ AND MAKE NOTE OF THE METHODOLOGY USED IN THE STUDIES YOU READ. From those notes you can more easily design your own methodology.

Argumentation

What is an argument? How do we analyze those of others or make one ourselves? The principles of argumentation have not changed much since the Greeks and Romans. Stephen Toulmin (1958 later cited and redefined by Hart, 1998) laid out a simple structure that breaks an argument into four types of information:

1. Claim – an arguable statement.

2. Evidence – data used to backup the claim

3. Warrant – the link between the evidence and the claim (since a then b)

4. Backing – the context and assumptions that support the validity of the warrant and the evidence (because)

Let’s say that we want to make the claim that our new program increased the motivation of our staff. We have evidence that shows that the staff who attend our program do better with customers than those who do not attend our program. Whether or not others will believe our claim will hinge on the degree to which we: a) link the staff motivation to the evidence of their customer service records and b) back up the assumption with stories or other research that support our conclusions.

Much of our experience of the world is determined by personal and cultural taste, our context and values. These may all cause people to disagree with our claims, creating situations where the evidence, warrant and backing will receive close scrutiny. For this reason a solid argument can be made for predetermining the type of claim being made and the likely weakness in each.

Type of Claim

Potential Weaknesses

Claiming Facts

The facts you state cannot be verified or are incorrect. Claims of fact do not rely on warrants or backing (other than citing your sources). An example here would be a report on the numbers of computers in the school.

Claiming Values

Relies on the other person agreeing with the basic judgment involved. Disagreement will lead to either denial or counterclaim such as “No, because…” or “Yes, but perhaps…” To build on the previous argument a person might make a claim that the school needed more computers because of the value of technology in the world today.

Claiming Policy

Relies on a normative statement of what ought to or not be done. You often use claims of values as support, laying the argument open for debate on two fronts, that of the value or of the need for the policy. A claim in this category might be that schools should provide laptops for students in order to properly prepare them for the future.

Claiming Concept

Relies on a personally derived definition. Disagreement will cause the argument to be countered by proposing an alternative definition. It is likely that the choice of words is highly interpretive. In education topics may include the advisability of retaining a student or the desirability of standards based high stakes testing.

Claiming Interpretation

Propose how data are to be understood. Disagreement mounts an alternative interpretation. For some small schools have shown themselves to be at an advantage in improving students achievement, for others these same data can be interpreted in an alternative manner.

Figure 1 based on Table 4.3 from Hart, 1998, page 90

Warrants are the assumptions on which the arguments are based, tying the claim to the evidence that supports it. Like claims, these can be stated or unstated, but if stated a counter argument must take the warrant into account. As an example to the extent that we believe that the purpose of business is to make money, then we can lay claim for greater emphasis placed on financial records and auditors reports.

Limitations to the argument may be stated clearly as in, “A limitation to this study is…..” Qualifiers may point to limitation without the same amount of clarity. Therefore, the savvy researcher is on the lookout for words such as probably, some, many, too, or generally. If and when you find literature that, while it agrees with your general arguments, relies on claims that are easily refuted or qualifies its claims, it is best to keep searching.

Finally, illustrations used to back up arguments. Specific instances, like irrefutable data do much to convince an audience of the validity of a claim. As Hart (1998) points out, “Concrete illustrations are usually much more convincing than hypothetical or generalized scenarios. However, the main and most common form of backing (in a review of the literature) is the legitimacy conferred on an argument through the use of academic style.”

References

Hart, C. (1998). Doing a literature review: Releasing social science research imagination. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publishing.

Mauch, J. E., & Park, N. (2003). Guide to the successful thesis and dissertation: A handbook for students and faculty. New York: Marcel Dekker.

Roberts, C. M. (2004). The dissertation journey. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Rudestam, K. E., & Newton, R. R. (2007). Surviving your dissertation: A comprehensive guide to content and process (Third ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publishing Inc.

The Perfect Pointe Review

The Perfect Pointe Book by Lisa Howell covers all your child needs to know to practice pointe safely having an optimum performance. The book and video classes teach dancers how to have a good progression before starting en pointe and how to improve your control if already onto pointe or another type of dance.

The book and 4 DVDs cover four stages of exercises with photos, detailed descriptions and videos of the exercises, being crucial to provide better range of motion and strength. Each stage contains exercises to test where your child is at. The first CD aims the increase of flexibility of the ankles. The second CD covers how prepare correctly all the small muscles in the feet to be able to start en pointe. The 3rd CD talks about the turnout muscles how to strength them. The last CD contains core control and balance training exercises. If your child learns everything before going en pointe she will have an amazing faster progress and her teacher will be amazed.

I know you as parent want to support your respective young dancer in the best possible way but sometimes it’s just not possible due lack of knowledge or time. You probably know that your children taking ballet classes with a good teacher is a crucial factor but what you may not know is that most of dance teachers are often busy to answer all parents and kids questions. Do your child is getting an excellent nutrition to dance at the maximum potential? Is she taking the right actions in order to prevent injuries?

The free parent’s manual covers all important topics. A few examples are nutrition, injuries prevention, dealing with physical injury, anxiety before presentations, dealing with a suspected eating disorder and when the right time to progress onto pointe. Made for parents to help understand the demands and to give the necessary guidance to their children.

Bowtrol Colon Cleanser – 6 Reasons For a Straight to the Point Review

The first thing that people want to know about Bowtrol is whether it works or not, why would you bother wasting your time if it didn’t work. You keep hearing about people using it and how good it is and you say I should try it out. Well have a read of this, it will help.

What I’m going to do is outline what it does for you. You need to be able to check out the major points, that’s the whole reason of a good review.

Six good points I found about Bowtrol colon cleanser:

1. You can lose inches in only a matter of a week.
2. It will help stop bloating and help release gas.
3. It will give you’re colon a good flushing to remove toxins.
4. You will have more energy
5. The efficiency of your immune system will is increased.
6. Maintain and colon health.

The great part about having your colon cleansed is that you will reduce the toxins that are in your colon, and you will also lose weight, feel lighter and it will be easier to move around.

The added benefits of having a clean colon is just amazing. As we all get older we will start to realize the benefits of this. The proof is out there that it works. There is overwhelming proof we all need to do it.. The incredible thing about Bowtrol is that it has a 95% success rate. The feeling of having the colon cleansed is great and look at all those positive benefits you will get from it.

So, just imagine how you will look and feel after you have done some colon cleansing. There are so many things to think of when it comes to your health but cleaning the colon is one of the ones that do not come to mind and yet it is probably the most important.

Eureka Mighty Mite Vacuum Cleaner Review

You probably have seen or heard about the very impressive Eureka Mighty Mite Vacuum Cleaner. Everyone seems to agree that this is one of the best vacuum cleaners available, especially when it comes to getting rid of pet hair. We will provide a very quick and to the point review of this simply amazing product.

Review of the Eureka Mighty Mite Vacuum Cleaner

When our old vacuum cleaner gave out, we decided to spend the money to get something that was not only affordable, but also able to clean effectively. We looked under various websites and many of the vacuums that we wanted were out of our budget. Ultimately, we ended up purchasing the Eureka Mighty Mite, based on the positive reviews that others had to say.

After using the Mighty Mite for a couple of days, I can definitely say that I have been blown away by its performance. It is very lightweight and small; however it packs a very big punch. It was able to clean just about everything and it did it very effectively. The suction on the hose was powerful and it allowed us to get just about everything that was on our hardwood floors and in our car. I was really blown away by the performance of this little vacuum.

For those of you were considering purchasing a Eureka Mighty Mite Vacuum Cleaner then you should definitely go ahead and get one. It does not cost very much but it is able to do more than the expensive vacuum cleaners. If you want something light and maneuverable, then this is it. You will be able to put it away in a little corner as it does not take up much space. It is able to hold a lot of debris due to the large bags that it uses. If you have pets such as dogs or cats, then the Mighty Mite is perfect. It will be able to suck up all those animal hairs without any problems.

To wrap things up we give the Eureka Mighty Mite Vacuum 5 stars. It is just what people need as it does not cost a lot of money and it does exactly what you need it to do. You can’t go wrong with a product like this and you will not regret your purchase. Take it from us, we have had it for a while and are totally satisfied with it.

Weight Watchers Points Plus Review

This Weight Watchers Points Plus Review will see what changes took place and if they will make the program better. Weight Watchers is a well-known weight loss program that has been helping people lose weight since 1963. This system was based on the idea of making people track their food intake every day. Most foods are given a point value and these points are used to determine how much you can eat every day. This program puts you in charge and encourages you to plan out your meals, so that you stay under the daily allowance of food intake.

The program received nation-wide success and has many followers. They offer a series of cookbooks to help you plan your meals better and a lot of food products that are available at your local grocery store. The system has worked for them for many years; primarily remaining in the same original format. Recently, the program did a complete overhaul of their point system and devised a whole new system called the Weight Watcher Points Plus.

SO what’s new?

Diet:
The old system focused on calories, fiber grams and fat grams to calculate their point systems. After evaluating the new system, a Weight Watchers Points Plus review shows that they now focuses on protein, carbohydrates, fiber grams and fat grams to calculate the points. Another change that was made is that the daily amount of points allowed has increased.

Online Profile:
This Weight Watchers Points Plus review shows that new to this system is the interactive website that offers their participants many different ways to track their success. After setting up your profile online, a personalize weight loss plan is designed for you based on your particular height and weight. Understanding the different weight loss dynamics between women and men, they have set up a separate website for each of them.

Tracking System:
Knowing the importance of accountability, the program has developed a tracking system on their website that will keep count of your points. This Weight Watchers Points Plus review reveals that all you need to do is go online and input the foods you have eaten for the day and the site will automatically calculate your total points for the day. The site also gives a complete list of foods and what there point’s value is. This gives you easy access throughout the day. Even when you are on the go or out to eat, you can easily check your points total on your cell phone to determine the best foods to select. Using the mobile-on-the-go feature also give you access at your fingertip to record every food you eat.

Weight Watchers has been around for almost fifty years and has seen some success in helping people lose weight. The need to revamp their entire program does show signs that perhaps this program was not showing the ability to keep participants maintaining the weight loss on the long-term scale as that they promise. A complete Weight Watchers Points Plus review shows that the program does show some great improvement from their older version.

Juwel Rio 240 – 7 Point Product Review

One of the most popular aquariums available today. The Rio 240 is a classic design but with some clever additions.

Here is our 7 point review -Juwel Rio 240

Appearance –
The Rio 240 is a nice size and the lighting makes the tank come alive. Could easily be a centre point in a room but will always be a great gallery for your fish.

Size –
With 240 litres this tank can take a small community of fish. If you want a tank which can handle some tetras, a few medium sized fish and some plants then this could be the perfect tank for you.

PVC –
Some aquariums are made from PVC while others are made from glass. Some people prefer PVC while some prefer glass. The drawback with PVC is that the tank will get scratches on it. You can buff out the scratches if they get too bad. The advantages are that the PVC is stronger and that the view is less likely to be distorted.

Accessories –
The Juwel Rio 240 is slightly lacking when it comes to the filter and heater that come included. While these are perfectly good for a smaller aquarium like the Rio 180. The 200 watt heater and Bioflow 3.0 compact filter are just not strong enough to use the aquarium to the full capacity. This means that if you want to get the most out of your aquarium you will have to replace these with other products.

Lighting –
What the Juwel Rio 240 loses in filter and heater power it gains in lighting. There is a real step up here in power from the Rio 180 as you get two 54 watt bulbs which really make your tank glow. Unless you have a demanding system you probably won’t have to replace these bulbs.

Cabinet –
As with most quality fish tanks you can purchase a matching cabinet for the Juwel Rio 240. As always we recommend that you purchase the matching cabinet as the tank – when full – can weigh too much for many normal home furniture. Your dining room table may look steady but unless it can take the weight of two people standing on it this tank will be too heavy.

Unsung Genius –
The Juwel Rio 240 comes with a suspended base which may seem to be an insignificant feature but could stop your aquarium straining and ultimately leaking.

How to Tell If a Review Is Authentic or Not

Most people turn to the Internet in order to research products before a purchase. If you are one of them, you probably have already seen some reviews that are beyond glowing for products you know are actually quite average or downright bad quality. It is easy to believe that the people writing those reviews are being paid by advertisers, but on the other hand there are plenty of affiliate sites that offer extremely good and factual reviews, even if they only make money when you buy. So what’s the easiest way to tell if a review is authentic or just a sham?

Is The Review Duplicated All Over the Internet?

What are the chances of two people writing exactly the same review? Some businesses give “marketing kits” to their affiliates and distributors, and sometimes this includes a glowing review to be published on review sites online, under the name of the affiliate. Some affiliates just publish it right away, but since many websites no longer accept affiliate content, slightly more clever marketers rewrite them just enough to pass the filters. In both cases, the content of the review is the same, a glowing or mostly glowing review that the provider of the product wrote, instead of an objective, third party evaluation of a product. Generally products and services that use this kind of marketing do it because they don’t have a product good enough to attract original reviews by itself, and are better avoided.

Does the Review List Cons along with Pros?

There is no product that doesn’t have at least one flaw. Just one. A good review should aim to be balanced, and that means listing the ugly as well as the good points. Beware of any review that strongly emphasises the good points, but glosses over any negatives or just mentions some that are not negative at all to give an impression of balance. If you trust the reviewer it may be that you actually landed on a great product, but in most cases it’s just a sales pitch and not a review.

Does the Review Include Real Facts?

In most cases, if the review is just a sales pitch the reviewer won’t bother giving factual information about the product beyond what’s on the product feature page. Those reviews that look like the reviewer never used the product himself, but claim to “Have been using this product for years, and I can tell you, it works!” are usually suspect. Another version of this is when the reviewer gets his facts wrong, such as claiming to have been using a product since before that product existed, or in a colour or model that has never been for sale.

10 Tips for Writing a Book Review

When writing a book review, you are evaluating the text. You are making a judgment about it. Here are 10 tips for writing an effective and compelling book review.

1. Don’t be afraid to give your opinion.

Reviewing a book requires you to make a value judgment. Is this book good, bad, or somewhere in between? Think about why a person would want to read a book review. They want to know if it is worth their time and money.

This doesn’t mean your review should be as simple as giving it thumbs up or thumbs down. As described in How to Write Anything, “Even movie critics…don’t offer those verdicts until after they first talk about their subjects in detail.”

It is also important to note that even a positive review can acknowledge weaknesses and still be positive. The reader will likely find it helpful if you point out any weaknesses in the book you’re reviewing. Try to sandwich these weaknesses in between praise so that you don’t begin or end on a bad note.

2. Develop criteria for judgment

Criteria means the rules or standards by which you judge that object. A good pizza, for example, might be measured by how greasy it is, the kind of toppings it has, the quality of the crust, etc. That’s your criteria.

If you were reviewing a restaurant, your standards to judge that restaurant would likely include the service, taste of the food, and the atmosphere. If you were reviewing a movie, you might look at the costumes, the acting, the special effects, and so on.

It all depends on what is important to you as a reviewer.

As you read books, think about what makes a book stand out for you. Do you like books with action packed plot lines? Or maybe the writer’s use of language is important to you. Whatever it is, decide on your criteria to help develop your review. It will give you specific points to make within the body of the review.
And it will help readers understand why you rated the book as “good” or “bad.”

3. Back up your opinion

Having an opinion is great. Having an opinion with nothing to back it up, however, is not very convincing. Readers want evidence and reasons for why you are evaluating a certain book as “fabulous” or “boring.” Even if readers don’t realize they want this, support for your ideas certainly couldn’t hurt.

For example, if you decide to review a Dr. Seuss book and you say it is an amazing book for children (opinion) because of his expert use of language and rhyme (criteria), you’d want to point out a particular example as support for that opinion. Let’s see that rhyme in action.

Quote the book directly. Refer to specific chapters or sections. Supporting your ideas will ultimately help to convince your reader.

4. Consider your audience

Who are you writing for? What do they already know about the subject matter? What do they need to know? How you write depends so much on who you are writing for. You speak differently to children than you speak to adults. You interact with your boss in a different way than you interact with your best friend from childhood who knew you when you had braces and bangs.

Your choice of language changes depending on who you are speaking to or writing for. Your tone of voice changes, too.

As you write your book review, consider what your audience wants to know and what will interest them. Choose words that they familiar with rather than jargon that requires a glossary.

This is really a case of thinking about how you want to deliver your message so that the audience can appreciate it. It takes work, but it can pay off in major ways once you’ve mastered it.

5. Write with authority

Whenever possible, avoid the following words: probably and maybe. Avoid the following phrases: It seems, I think, In my opinion.

These words and phrases make your review sound less authoritative and less confident than you’re aiming for. Even if you aren’t feeling confident, fake it.

Look at the following example:

In my opinion, Dr. Seuss is probably one of the most interesting writers out there, though, maybe others might not agree.

Instead, say this:

Dr. Seuss is one of the most interesting writers out there.

We know it is your opinion; that is implied. No need to qualify your opinions with words like probably. Do not be afraid that others might disagree or get offended by your opinion on a book. Disagreement actually creates some of the most interesting discussion.

6. Avoid writing too much summary

A little bit of summary in a book review is helpful. The reader had not already read the book (most likely) and since you are trying to consider your audience, you want to make them feel like they understand the rest of your review. Summary is a great place to start by making your reader feel at home.

Too much summary, however, is not what the reader needs.

Here’s what you need to know about writing summary:

· When summarizing a book, stick to just the main points. Answer the question: What is this book about?
· Try it limit your summary to no more than one paragraph or two unless it is essential or required to include more.
· Avoid writing about every single thing that happens in the book (And then this happened, and then…, and then…).
· Use summary early in your review to get the reader acquainted. It wouldn’t make sense to suddenly give a summary at the end, after you’ve made your point.
· Use your own words. If the reader wanted to know what the publisher has to say, they’ll visit the publisher’s website or read the back of the book. Give us your unique interpretation.

7. Compare and contrast

Another way to help back up your ideas, as stated above, is to use a very familiar tool: compare and contrast. It may have been a while since you were in school, but you know how to do this. You do this every day.

For example, you compare your hamburger to every other hamburger you’ve ever had (even if only in your head, even if it happens so fast you barely register it). When someone asks you how Robert Downey Jr. preformed in Due Date, you might compare his acting to other films like Iron Man.

Comparing and contrasting helps the reader to understand. It gives you and the reader a common ground. Look at the book you are currently reviewing. Can you compare it to other books by that author? Or maybe you could compare it other books in that genre.

Or maybe this new book is incomparable. That would be worth telling your readers, too.

8. Organize your review

Organizing your review in even the slightest way can help your reader make sense of your ideas by giving them a structure. Even the best written story will be less remarkable if the chapters are out of order.
The basics of organization include a beginning, middle, and end. It’s that simple.

Start with an intro that gets the reader warmed up and maybe even summarizes the book. Then, use the middle of your review to give your opinion and support it with quotes and examples. Use this chance to elaborate on your ideas. Then, wrap up your review with a brief conclusion rather than ending abruptly in the middle of your ideas.

It might not come naturally to you, but that is what revision is for. As you revise, consider moving information around and making it sound as effective and clear as possible.

9. Provide helpful information

This one doesn’t apply to everyone, but is worth mentioning. If I read a book review, I want to know where I can buy the book. Where can I find it? Who is the publisher?

A link could be even more helpful. In fact, Amazon can work as an affiliate program for many blogs by linking directly to the texts you mention so that the reader can buy them. And you get a commission. Learn more about making money with Amazon here.

And this should go without saying, but don’t forget to mention the author and title early in your review. Never give the reader a chance to feel confused about what you are talking about. The title of your review isn’t enough. Mention the title and author in the review, as well.

10. Set yourself apart

Depending on the amount of freedom you are allowed in writing your review, consider trying something new to set yourself apart from others.

So many book reviews follow a similar format, which seems to work well, but why not try a different approach? To inspire you, here are a few ideas for reviews:

· The Top 10 Reasons You Must Read __________
· 5 Ways ______ Will Blow Your Mind (In a Good Way)
· The Similarities Between ______ and Harry Potter (or some other well-known piece of literature)
· Why ______(author) is the Next Stephen King (or another famous author)

In all of these examples, it is the title that is attention grabbing. Also, the title implies a certain organization (such as a top ten list). Mostly, though, the above examples don’t look exactly like every other book review.

If you can find a new angle, explore it and see how it works.

Overall, writing a book review doesn’t have to be complicated. And it can be fun! If you are willing to put in the time to make it compelling and convincing and helpful to your readers, the results could be worth it.

How Do I Improve a Performance Review?

Every job, no matter how perfect it is has some demanding times and not just in the sense of a person’s performance. Performance reviews are a veritable part of any job and they have to be dealt with an open and positive attitude.

These reviews are a part of the company’s strategy to improve the quality of the performance of their employees and the main objective is to let the employees know that they are appreciated for their positive qualities and it is also a good way of letting them be aware of their negative qualities so that they can work on them and make a difference in their performances.

This objective should be clear to both the employee and the reviewer because if any one of them does not take the performance review tips to be what it is meant to be, they can venture serious work place social hazard and that can be a breach of the employee – company relationship and trust.

A review should basically evaluate the performance of the employee over a set period of time and they should be able to point out clearly the problem areas of the employee’s performance.

The reviewers or the employers should then go over the review with the employee and they should make sure that they objectively and not negatively elucidate all the points to the employee. Now, the employee should keep an open mind about this and should not lose their temper or behave improperly because the review is actually for their good.

They should try to understand the review’s points and if they do not agree on some point they should take the problem to their HR professionals and go over the review with them again.

In case they find the review to be too negative and they need to objectify these negatives with a balance, they should actually, politely ask the employee or the reviewer to also mention their strong points so that they can be motivated and they can keep a proper perspective.

The performance review should actually be positively used by the employees. Most companies give a copy of their performance reviews to the employee after their meeting with them. In this case, the employees should go over the review themselves and try to make sure that the negative points should be worked upon and that should come in the notice of the employees and the reviewers too.

This is also the chance for the employees to use the review to realise whether the job actually suits them or not. There can be some people who would feel that the job is already not meeting the conditions required for them to be charged enough to provide a good service and they should go over their review to make sure that the job is up to their ideals or not.

Also, they should use the review to make sure that they still eradicate their negative points and work on building their strengths and positive points. In case the review is demeaning to the employee in any way, they can report to their superiors or even sue the company or the reviewer too.

A Book Reviewer’s Conundrum

Book reviewers and bibliophiles worldwide remain divided on two complex questions that fuel and pertain to their work and love of literature.

1. Why do we review books?
2. What is the best way to rate a book?

These two questions, aside from a pure love for literature and reading, drive the industry today.

Purpose of Book Reviews

Initially, one would assume that as a book reviewer it is the obligation and responsibility of reviewers to take on any book they accept. Although true, it is but one approach. What is the greater disservice to the public, not writing a negative review resulting in hundreds of dissatisfied consumers spending their time reading a poor novel or never getting to that new author on your reading list whose work is brilliant and reaches thousands because of a positive review? To many, including myself, this is quite the predicament. However, W.H. Auden, I believe, puts it best when he states, “Some books are undeservedly forgotten; none are undeservedly remembered.” Take a moment to really let that soak in. The significance of this quotation lay in the breadth and reality that many works of art and great masterpieces are never discovered or truly valued, but works not worth remembering are just that; not remembered over time.

Therefore, I now think it clear that I, as a reviewer have a responsibility to both warn patrons about negative products and also laud works that don’t receive near enough attention. If a choice has to be made, as some irrational reviewers have predicated, I find it my personal responsibility to readers that I review and introduce a positive work over a lackluster piece that will be forgotten in a matter of time without my involvement anyways. Furthermore, it is a bit sadistic and shameful to take part in anything that can tarnish or hurt another’s reputation. This assessment must and should be made aware to all that review and consider ‘positive reviewers’ as nothing more than ‘marketers and profiteers’. It is far from the truth. The reviewer’s greatest duty is to write and inform authors and consumers about the quality and significance of books. The greatest crime committed in that confidence and trust by consumers given to reviewers is the failure to acknowledge and make them aware of truly marvelous literature.

Some of you are now considering the thought that the aforementioned is a utopian ideal. Not all reviewers are alike and the majority of reviews found out there are not from reputable and professional reviewers. Websites have had frequent issues with authors glorifying their own work or hiring others to do the same. To contrast, some authors and reviewers deconstruct books in order to tarnish a competitor’s reputation. This is a reality and I am not so naïve to believe it does not happen. Despite all that, I have faith that reviewers, overall, seek to provide readers and consumers with accurate reviews to help in their buying decisions and development of future works. What choice do we have? The freedom to review and read whatever you like is more significant than the censorship of the whole lot for a minority’s obstructive actions.

Ratings and Book Reviews

To this point, I have discussed the validity of reviewing methodology without even so much as mentioning a rating system aside from a formal written critique. Large online websites such as Amazon, GoodReads, and Barnes & Noble use customer reviewing systems in which nearly all can post reviews based on a five star system. Many issues arrive from this style of rating printed material. The lack of limitations and easy accessibility regarding this rating system style is a blessing and a curse. All customers have access to writing their own reviews. This generates a vast amount of reviews to help customers in their buying decision, but amateur reviews can often be dishonest at the worst or misguided but true at best.

Customers and others can post reviews and select stars in this fashion:

1 Star – I hate it
2 Star – I dislike it
3 Star – It’s OK
4 Star – I like it
5 Star – I love it

In order for the review to be posted or at least submitted for publishing, 20 words or a video must be submitted and a star rating MUST be submitted. Therein lay the real issue. Is a five star rating system the best way to rate books and printed materials? Most reviewers and critics say no. Simply submitting a star rating for a book does little justice for the author, nor does it aid consumers in deciding on the purchase; at least it shouldn’t. Plainly put, customers look at reviews to decide whether or not to read or purchase the product in question. While some look only at the stars very quickly, most readers, after taking the time to click the reviews link, will go through a couple of the reviews. Depending on where they are at in the decision/buying process they will either find the shorter concise reviews or take the time to methodically go over the longer reviews with greater depth. Most importantly, this process saves them time and sometimes money in the long run.

The greater irony is that professional and reputable websites like industry titans, The New York Times and so forth formulate written critiques. Their exempt status is due to, for lack of a better phrase, no true rating system. It is ironic that the best and most respectable reviewers in the business are not expected to give the books they review a rating or number of stars when consumers navigating major websites gravitate toward the number of stars like a moth to a lamp. On the contrary, it is entirely sufficient for reviewing giants to use their words alone to either flatter and champion literary works or tear down their very foundations so all that is left are a few sputtering words that fall upon deaf ears. Many blogs do the same and maintain an exceptional identity as scholarly and well thought out.

Furthermore, the stars seem to be more of a point of controversy than a true value as evidenced by descriptions for the separate ratings. ‘Like it’, ‘Love it’, and ‘Hate it’ are subjective, and often times, vague terms when associated with literature. Despite opaque meanings and terms from the eyes of the literary world, the five-star ratings are easy for customers to understand and with a large enough quantity of ratings average out to a reasonable rating. Arguments (some have proven to be factual) have arisen about publishers and authors creating accounts in order to lionize or defame a book in the rating.

Should one and two star reviews be given on these web sites and considered credible? Yes, of course they should be. If a credible reviewer finds they have the time, energy, and desire to write and post a negative review, more power to them. Customers truly appreciate saving money when valid points are made regarding the inaccuracies and poor writing of a book or novel. There are both substantial and insubstantial 1-5 star ratings across the web. It is more important to keep consumers informed and educated regarding how to sift through poorly written reviews. That is something that has yet to really be undertaken and would most likely need to be the work of website moderators/editors than credible reviewers themselves.

Until that day comes, readers need to be made aware of how to analyze reviews on major websites. This can be done by asking questions and looking for certain topics. To generalize (there are always exceptions!), most online credible reviews on these websites will contain a short plot summary, some sort of purpose or directive, a critique of the author and writing style, and an overall decision as to whether they would recommend the work to readers and sometimes even a certain audience. Look for those things book readers!

Regarding the stars, analyzing that can be a bit trickier. I would hypothesize that the ratings would follow a standard distribution or deviation (sorry for getting statistical). I would presume that if an experiment was conducted looking at the number of ratings for an author and their work would show the following results: a mainstream and well-marketed work with a reputable author will receive more ratings and will more than likely find a fair value in the law of averages whereas a lesser-known book with fewer reviews will be skewed in one direction. In other words, the more reviews a work has the better chance that the average stars shown at the purchase screen are honest.

Alternative Rating Systems

The argument as to whether or not books should be rated on a five-star system seems a bit too late at this point due to how Amazon and others have become ingrained in the lifestyles of consumers and reviewers alike. However, there are alternatives to the traditional system that can be utilized by reviewers and customers alike.

One alternative may be to extend the stars into a seven-point scale which gives a more accurate account of how the customer or reviewer feels. For instance:

1: Poorly Written and Don’t Read it
2: Pretty bad, but not as bad as it could have been
3: Slightly bad
4: No preference or sentiments
5: Pretty good
6: Quite good, but not as good as it can get
7: Well written and a Must Read

This seven-point scale offers more options while maintaining clear and defined parameters in each category. A ten-point scale can leave too much room for ambiguity and categories too close in meaning. However, this method is simply an extension of the current methodology and offers little in terms of finding a voice and rating system singular and effective with literature and books.

What may be the answer is an edgy alternative more like a survey than rating. If customers and reviewers are presented with a series of yes or no questions, with values attributed to the answers, a final tally could be assessed and attached to the novel/book. What would this value carry or mean? Whatever you like; quills, bookmarks, two thumbs up. Any sort of value would be adequate so long as the professional and literary world agree upon it. This series of questions may include inquiries like, “Would you say the book was poorly written and difficult to understand?” or “Was the depicted setting vivid and fitting for the plot?”. I am not the best source as to what these questions should be nor do I claim to be an authority on the topic, but it is an intriguing idea and could transform the way reviewers can rate and apply a value to a novel without having to decide between ‘like’ and ‘really like’.

It is evident, from the two predicaments facing professional and amateur reviewers alike, that although the issues are complex, solutions are in the making and final resolutions can come from new and innovative thinking. The introduction of the internet and its impact on daily life and globalism has truly changed the world. Reviews are more readily available and this has meant an exponential growth in the number of reviewers. Rating systems need to be reevaluated and customized to the characteristics of books. A five star rating system in which the same standards are given to a lamp and a book should not be the case. Furthermore, reviewers must ask themselves why they write reviews and if that reason is a worthy of the authors who take so much time to write the works and consumers that spend hard-earned money on the product.

Do your reviews emphasize the importance of literature in today’s world and its role in educating, entertaining, and remembering what our minds alone cannot retain? Do your reviews identify and recognize the efforts of unsung authors? Do you aid authors by pointing out methods for improvement and ways to enhance their style and content? Do you think about your role and importance in the publishing process?