Reviewing Ethnographic Texts: A Rubric

12 May

Book reviews are an art form, and the best reviewers make it look easy. As the Editor of Student Anthropologist, I want to provide some guidelines – or a rubric – that I think new reviewers will find helpful. First, here are the barebones requirements, per our Call for Book Reviews.

  • Book review manuscripts must be 800-1,000 words long. (A multiple-book review can be slightly longer, about 1,200-1,400 words.) Book reviews falling far short of or far exceeding this length will be returned to their authors without being examined.
  • Manuscripts must be in 12-point font, double- spaced, with one-inch margin on all sides. Please save the manuscript as a Word document (.doc file), with your last name as the document name.
  • The submission should include the manuscript and a cover sheet containing the author’s name, contact information, student status and affiliation.
  • Please include publication data for the book at the top of the first page, using punctuation as follows: Title of the Book. Author’s Name. Place of publication: Publisher, date of publication. Number of pages. ISBN.
  • When reviewing an edited volume, do not feel that you must write about or mention every chapter. Instead describe the overall focus of the volume, pick a few significant contributions and discuss those in detail. Review previous publications for examples.
  • Be specific. Avoid vague affirmations or general statements. Instead of saying that the reviewed book is, for example, innovative, explain why it is so.
  • Reviews should not require footnotes. Avoid lengthy quotations and limit references to 4-6. In-text references are cited in parentheses, with last name(s), year of publication, and where necessary, page numbers.
  • Manuscripts should follow the 2009 AAA Style Guide (http://www.aaanet.org/publications/guidelines.cfm).

But those are requirements, not guidelines. They will not help you write the review. If you’re struggling to write a review for a journal or a class, as I have so many times, I suggest that you take the following into consideration. These are the questions that I ask myself when I read an ethnographic text or a review of one.

Ethnographic texts are arguments, and as such they are both destructive and constructive. They intervene into a conversation already underway, and they bring something new to the table. They challenge our assumptions by examining the nuance of something that someone else – another author or the audience – may think of in sweeping generalizations. The author is making a case. This, I believe, is the key to writing a good, critical book review for Student Anthropologist.

If we take seriously the premise that ethnographic texts are arguments, then it follows that the author must provide evidence, and thus Pandora’s Box opens. The following questions emerge: What kind of evidence do they provide? Are the data and methodology appropriate, i.e. is it the right kind of evidence to support the author’s claims, and is there enough of it? What kind of ethnographic authority and sincerity is established that enables us, the audience, to buy these claims and the evidence?

There are stylistic questions as well. Is the text accessible? Does it flow from macro- to micro-perspectives or bounce around? Is the narrative temporally or thematically organized (or neither) and how does this strengthen or weaken the author’s illustration? Does the author clearly link evidence and claims back to the overarching argument? How does the author position themselves with respect to their research population, and how is the population represented, e.g. who speaks for them? Is the text more heavily weighted toward social theory (or philosophy) or ethnographic vignettes from which the theory might emerge organically? Does the author take a very positivist position or is the style very experimental or does it fall somewhere in the middle? How might the author’s style be influenced by their career trajectory? Is this text building on previous work or is it the result of dissertation research?

When writing the review, be clear and concise, be honest and frank, and please don’t gush. While there are a number of ways to structure a review, the best and easiest way is to just summarize the book and then analyze it using the questions above. Each chapter is making a smaller-argument; what is it, how is it supported, and what does it have to do with the previous chapter? Finish by telling us who the best audience is (e.g. undergraduates with an interest in astrobioanthropology?) and what is most useful about the book (e.g. the innovative methodology, the powerful ethnographic vignettes, the theoretical contribution).

Student Anthropologist is committed to the publication of excellent student-authored manuscripts, and as such we want our book reviews to be critically engaged with the texts in question. On the other hand, whether you’re writing a review for a journal or a course assignment, I think you’ll find this rubric useful.

EXTENDED DEADLINE: Call for Papers and Peer Reviewers – 2016

1 Mar

Submission Deadline: April 15, 2016

About
Student Anthropologist is the flagship peer-reviewed journal of the National Association of Student Anthropologists, the largest organization of student anthropologists in the world. It is an annual digital publication. We encourage students from all levels and disciplines to contribute to the journal.

Aim and Scope
We aim to provide students with an opportunity to present their research and voice their perspectives through our annual publication, Student Anthropologist.With each issue we explore new directions in anthropology, allowing student interests to guide our selection of thematic and theoretical avenues of inquiry. We seek a plurality of voices from all subfields and levels within the discipline.Student Anthropologist welcomes not only original research addressing anthropological issues and problems but also submissions that examine how anthropological skills, ideas, and ethnography can shed light on contemporary social issues. The journal is committed to guiding students through the peer review and revision process to publish innovative and high-quality articles.

Submission Guidelines
We seek scholarly submissions from undergraduate and graduate students worldwide, in particular those emphasizing anthropology’s capacity to inform public issues, social problems, and global realities. These submissions should contain original research or commentary.

Any student currently enrolled in a BA, MA, or PhD program is welcome to submit original research to be considered for publication. While this is an anthropology journal, students do not need to be enrolled in an anthropology program.

We accept two types of scholarly submissions:

  1. Research Articles: based on the author’s original research; under 6,000 words in length.
  1. Commentary Submissions: opinion, theory, or “think” pieces that are the original work of the author. Submissions might include such mediums as written pieces (approx. 2,000 words in length), photo essays (10 photos + 1,000 words of commentary in length) and videos/YouTube© clips (10-minute maximum in duration + 1,000 words of commentary in length).

All submissions should include:

  1. A cover sheet (the first page of the document) containing the author’s name, contact information, paper title, student status and affiliation, and any relevant acknowledgments.
  1. A double-spaced manuscript that adheres to AAA style guidelines and does not contain any identifying information about the author (peer review is double-blind). This should also include a 250-word abstract and three keywords. Please save the document with your last name as the document name.

All submissions should be sent to the Editor atstudentanthropologist@gmail.com.

Interested in Peer Reviewing?
In addition to publishing excellent student research, Student Anthropologist also aims to provide students with professionalization opportunities for students to become involved in the journal. Students act as peer reviewers and editors.

If you would like to peer review or are interested in other journal production opportunities, please contact the Editor at studentanthropologist@gmail.com. In your email be sure to include your name, email, university affiliation and student status, thematic, regional, and theoretical research interests.

Deadline for submissions: April 15, 2016

Download and Share the Call for Papers and Peer Reviewers (pdf)

Call for Book Reviews – 2016

17 Feb

Deadline: Friday, March 11th

Student Anthropologist is the flagship peer-reviewed journal of the National Association of Student Anthropologists (the largest organization of anthropologist students in the world). It is an annual digital publication. Students from all levels and disciplines are encouraged to contribute.

Aim and scope of journal
We aim to provide students with an opportunity to present their research and voice their perspectives through our annual publication, Student Anthropologist. We seek a plurality of voices from all subfields in each issue. Student Anthropologist welcomes submissions which explore how anthropological skills, ideas, and ethnography can have an impact on contemporary social issues. Student Anthropologist is also committed to guiding students through the peer review and revision process to craft excellent articles.

We are currently seeking submissions for our book review section. The journal accepts volunteered book reviews. Please contact the book review editor (Jessica Chandras at jessu1006@gwu.edu) with book review suggestions.

 Student Anthropologist is interested in three types of book reviews:

  1. Book reviews of current award winning anthropology texts, including those of AAA section award winners;
  2. Book reviews of recently published ethnographies (within the past three years), edited volumes or other texts, which possess particularly useful pedagogical qualities;
  3. Reviews of two or three recently published books (within the past five years) focusing on a particular topic (i.e. well-being, kinship, etc.).

All potential authors are encouraged to contact the Book Review Editor before submitting a complete review to make sure that the books they are interested have not been reviewed and are appropriate for review.

In each review, we request that you offer an overview of the text’s content and thesis. Beyond that, we expect you to provide a critical assessment of the text and to offer substantive and fair commentary on, for example, the quality of the theory, methodology, writing style, innovation, and connection to other published work. Please do refrain from a discussion of the author, unless it is critical to the material. As a journal for and by students, Student Anthropologist is also particularly concerned with the pedagogical value of books. We encourage you to comment on the pedagogical qualities of the text. Why is reading this book important for anthropology students? What courses or level of students would benefit from reading it?

When writing your review, we also request that you consider the following guidelines:

  • Book review manuscripts must be 800-1,000 words long. (A multiple-book review can be slightly longer, about 1,200-1,400 words.) Book reviews falling far short of or far exceeding this length will be returned to their authors without being examined.
    • Manuscripts must be in 12-point font, double- spaced, with one-inch margin on all sides. Please save the manuscript as a Word document (.doc file), with your last name as the document name.
    • The submission should include the manuscript and a cover sheet containing the author’s name, contact information, student status and affiliation.
    • Please include publication data for the book at the top of the first page, using punctuation as follows: Title of the Book. Author’s Name. Place of publication: Publisher, date of publication. Number of pages. ISBN.
    • When reviewing an edited volume, do not feel that you must write about or mention every chapter. Instead describe the overall focus of the volume, pick a few significant contributions and discuss those in detail. Review previous publications for examples.
    • Be specific. Avoid vague affirmations or general statements. Instead of saying that the reviewed book is, for example, innovative, explain why it is so.
    • Reviews should not require footnotes. Avoid lengthy quotations and limit references to 4-6. In-text references are cited in parentheses, with last name(s), year of publication, and where necessary, page numbers.
    • Manuscripts should follow the 2009 AAA Style Guide (http://www.aaanet.org/publications/guidelines.cfm).

*The editors reserve the right to reject or return for revision any submitted material on the grounds of inappropriate subject matter, quality, length, or nonconformity with the AAA style guide.

All submissions and inquiries should be sent to the Book Review Editor at the contact information listed below.

Contact details:
Jessica Chandras
jessu1006@gwu.edu
Student Anthropologist Book Review Editor
The George Washington University
2110 G St. NW, Washington, DC 20052

Deadline: Friday, March 11th

Download and Share the Call for Book Reviews (pdf)

Call for Papers and Peer Reviewers – 2016

17 Jan

Submission Deadline: March 1, 2016

About
Student Anthropologist is the flagship peer-reviewed journal of the National Association of Student Anthropologists, the largest organization of student anthropologists in the world. It is an annual digital publication. We encourage students from all levels and disciplines to contribute to the journal.

Aim and Scope
We aim to provide students with an opportunity to present their research and voice their perspectives through our annual publication, Student Anthropologist. With each issue we explore new directions in anthropology, allowing student interests to guide our selection of thematic and theoretical avenues of inquiry. We seek a plurality of voices from all subfields and levels within the discipline. Student Anthropologist welcomes not only original research addressing anthropological issues and problems but also submissions that examine how anthropological skills, ideas, and ethnography can shed light on contemporary social issues. The journal is committed to guiding students through the peer review and revision process to publish innovative and high-quality articles.

Submission Guidelines
We seek scholarly submissions from undergraduate and graduate students worldwide, in particular those emphasizing anthropology’s capacity to inform public issues, social problems, and global realities. These submissions should contain original research or commentary.

Any student currently enrolled in a BA, MA, or PhD program is welcome to submit original research to be considered for publication. While this is an anthropology journal, students do not need to be enrolled in an anthropology program.

We accept two types of scholarly submissions:

  1. Research Articles: based on the author’s original research; under 6,000 words in length.
  1. Commentary Submissions: opinion, theory, or “think” pieces that are the original work of the author. Submissions might include such mediums as written pieces (approx. 2,000 words in length), photo essays (10 photos + 1,000 words of commentary in length) and videos/YouTube© clips (10-minute maximum in duration + 1,000 words of commentary in length).

All submissions should include:

  1. A cover sheet (the first page of the document) containing the author’s name, contact information, paper title, student status and affiliation, and any relevant acknowledgments.
  1. A double-spaced manuscript that adheres to AAA style guidelines and does not contain any identifying information about the author (peer review is double-blind). This should also include a 250-word abstract and three keywords. Please save the document with your last name as the document name.

All submissions should be sent to the Editor at studentanthropologist@gmail.com.

Interested in Peer Reviewing?
In addition to publishing excellent student research, Student Anthropologist also aims to provide students with professionalization opportunities for students to become involved in the journal. Students act as peer reviewers and editors.

If you would like to peer review or are interested in other journal production opportunities, please contact the Editor at studentanthropologist@gmail.com. In your email be sure to include your name, email, university affiliation and student status, thematic, regional, and theoretical research interests.

Deadline for submissions: March 1, 2016

Download and Share the Call for Papers and Peer Reviewers (pdf)

Call for Book Review Editor – 2016

7 Jan

Call for Book Review Editor
Submission Deadline: January 31, 2016

Student Anthropologist, the Journal of the National Association of Student Anthropologists, is currently accepting applications for a new Book Review Editor for our 2016 issue (due out at the end of the year). The Book Review Editor is primarily tasked with soliciting books and manuscripts, working with authors throughout the manuscript revision process, and providing general support to the Editorial Board. (See Call for Editorial Board Members for details.)

Specifically, the Book Review Editor:

  • Identifies potential books for review and solicits desk copies from the publishers
  • Solicits book review manuscripts by posting Calls for Book Reviews
  • Identifies promising students and invites them to submit manuscripts
  • Works with authors throughout the revision process and adheres to the journal’s policies and expectations for book reviews

If you are interested in submitting an application, please send the following to the Editor of Student Anthropologist at studentanthropologist@gmail.com.

  1. Full name
  2. University Affiliation
  3. A current CV
  4. A brief response: What book would you recommend for review and why?
  5. Optional: A book review sample (from a journal or blog)

It is recommended that Book Review Editors are post-fieldwork PhD students.

Please be sure to review the Book Reviews from previous issues of Student Anthropologist (at studentanthropologist.wordpress.com) and familiarize yourself with the most recent Call for Book Reviews.

The deadline for applications is January 31, 2016.

Call for Editorial Board Members – 2016

7 Jan

Call for Editorial Board Members
Submission Deadline: January 31, 2016 

Student Anthropologist, the Journal of the National Association of Student Anthropologists, is currently accepting new Editorial Board Members. The board is composed of student anthropologists who support the peer-review process and publication of the annual issue of Student Anthropologist while also contributing through their own specialized function or role.

Editorial Board Members typically work with authors one-on-one throughout the editorial process, peer review manuscripts (as needed), provide general support to the Board (as needed), copy edit manuscripts (as needed), and aid in the solicitation of manuscripts via their peer networks.

Additionally, we are looking to fill some specialized roles.

  • Design Editor: an individual with interest or expertise in Adobe InDesign or Pages for Mac; effectively, this person will design and manage the look of the journal
  • Communications Editor: an individual who can manage the social media (e.g. Facebook, Twitter) of Student Anthropologist; someone who can regularly promote Calls for Papers, published issues, and related announcements.
  • Peer Review Editor: an individual who can manage manuscripts and the peer review database; matching submissions with appropriate peer reviewers in a double-blind process; adding new peer reviewers to the database
  • Book Review Editor: an individual who solicits reviews and books, works with a book reviewer through the editorial process, and copy edits manuscripts; see Call for Book Review Editor for more details

Editorial Board Members should be graduate-level students, though undergraduates are welcome to apply for Design and Communications positions. We encourage students from all field of anthropology to apply. Those who are interested should contact studentanthropologist@gmail.com with the following information:

  1. Full name
  2. University Affiliation
  3. A current CV
  4. If interested in a specialized role: which role and a brief description of your qualifications

The deadline for applications is January 31, 2016.

Greetings, from the Incoming Editor

7 Jan

Greetings all,

My name is Dick Powis and I’ll be taking over the NASA e-Journal, Student Anthropologist, from Sara Smith. Sara has left me with a very firm foundation on which to work – much thanks to her.

Currently, I’m a second-year PhD student at Washington University in St. Louis, with support from a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. I received a BA in Anthropology from Cleveland State University in 2013. Before that I was in the culinary industry for about seven years. I’ve been involved with AAA and NASA since my freshman year, so I’m quite sympathetic to undergraduate research and publication. Finally, I blog for Savage Minds (www.savageminds.org).

My research, in Dakar, Senegal, focuses on the ways in which young men prepare themselves for fatherhood, both in the long-term and during the pregnancy of their partners. This entails research interests in reproductive health, fatherhood, kinship, couvade, gender, Post-Colonial Studies, and Science and Technology Studies.

As the new editor of Student Anthropologist, I’m excited to have the opportunity to promote undergraduate research and publication. Faculty, staff, and graduates: as you mentor and advise your undergraduates, I hope that you will continue to suggest that they submit their original research to Student Anthropologist, which, for clarity’s sake, is peer-reviewed and four-field. That being said, I hope not to dissuade graduate submission of original research, commentaries, and book reviews. Student Anthropologist is a perfect journal by which to familiarize oneself with the sometimes daunting peer review process.

So here’s the plan. I will have Calls for Editorial Board Members and a Book Review Editor out presently. In particular, I’ll be looking for people who can manage design (i.e. InDesign or Pages), social media, and our peer review database, but there are other less-demanding tasks as well. By the end of the month, I will send out a Call for Papers for the 2016 issue and a Call for Peer Reviewers.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

All the best,
Dick Powis
Editor, Student Anthropologist