Guidelines for Critiques
Each critique should include 6 categories or items: (1) A complete Turabian citation with the call number below it, (2) Use/Purpose, (3) Scope or Coverage/Criteria, (4) Organization, (5) Pros /Cons, and (6) Reviews. The necessary specific details for each of these categories are described below.
Turabian Citation and Call Number
The bibliographic style of these citations is based on the Turabian style manual and the Chicago Manual of Style. Some local preferences and variants will be apparent. We are working on guidelines to document these local preferences.
- Ask yourself, how or for what reasons would I or someone else use this source.
- Avoid vague statements such as “a guide to resources related to the piano” or “useful for the undergraduate or specialist.” Instead state the specific aspects of the resource and explain how an undergraduate or specialist would use it.
- Coverage should explain the scope of the content of the publication in terms of publication types, language, time frame, geographic region, etc.
- These aspects of coverage should be examined in terms of the criteria for inclusion. Most prefaces will explain the criteria the author(s) used in selecting the sources they included. Try to put yourself inside the mind of the author or editor. CRITERIA, CRITERIA, CRITERIA is the key for this category.
- Do not confuse organization with coverage.
- Think of organization on two levels: First, consider the broader picture or how the source is organized as a whole. Is the book (or site) grouped by chapters or sections? How is each chapter or section organized? Does it have special appendixes or indexes? Second, examine the nature and quality of the information provided at the level of each entry. For example, is the bibliographic information complete? How detailed is the description of each entry. How well is the information presented? In some cases the preface to the source will explain both these aspects of organization.
- When you state how the entries are organized avoid confusing or contradicting statements such as “listed alphabetically by author and title” or “listed alphabetically by author in categories of genre and date.” These statements must be perfectly clear.
- If the main method of organization integrates categories such as author and subject, then be sure to use the word “integrated.”
- In the case of dictionaries and encyclopedias focus mostly on the content of individual entries. Also comment on bibliographies, works lists, illustrations and articles on special topics. Ascertain any obvious editorial bias.
Pros and Cons
- Make judgements of coverage and organization. Comment on special features or lack thereof. Also comment on currency if appropriate.
- If a source is out-of-date, state this in a way that refers to the date of publication rather than indicating it as a matter of coverage.
- Avoid vague statements such as “clear typography.” Instead, indicate what specifically is good or bad about the typography, or how it is helpful, etc.
- Just because a resource has an index that is not necessarily a Pro. Only indexes of an unusual value should be mentioned as a Pro. If a book has no indexes, that is not necessarily a Con. You need to be able to explain what type of index is needed and why.
- Avoid describing a feature of the source’s organization.
- If an editorial bias is evident this can be mentioned, but be sure to explain the specific nature of the bias and why it is bad (or possibly helpful).
- Include a full citation for each source in the Turabian format. Include the call number beneath the citation.
- When describing the organization do NOT use quotation marks to designate chapter of section headings. Capitalize chapter titles and section headings.
- Compare your critique with the information found in Duckles.
- Search RILM Abstracts and IIMP to see if there are any reviews of your source. If there are reviews cite them below the critique in the following format: [Reviewer’s Last Name], [Reviewer’s first name]. [Title of the Journal the Review is Published In ] [volume number] ([Month or Season] [Year]): [pages].
- Always spell out states in full in the bibliographic citations.
- Unless a source gives library locations, use the term “identify” rather than “locate.”
- Do not use superscript for ordinal numbers.
- Do not use any bold or tabs.
- ABOVE ALL AVOID VAGUENESS. INCLUDE THE WHYS, WHATS AND HOWS!