Publication Review

How to Write a Publication Review for American Archivist

The Reviews section of the American Archivist provides a forum for the evaluation of literature that affects, and is affected by, emerging archival theory and practice. Reviews should be of recent publications of significance to the archival profession that relate to themes explored in the journal. Reviews may be of a single publication (including cloth monographs and open access reports and literature) or a review essay that evaluates several related works to explore broader themes in the archival literature. Reviewers are selected by the Reviews Editors.


Specific guidelines for publication reviews for American Archivist include the following:

  • Briefly discuss the author’s or editor’s credentials and background.
  • Briefly describe the contents of the publication. Do not retell the story but provide an overview and summary.
  • A publication review is a personal statement. Discuss your reaction to the book, and evaluate the publication’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • Discuss the publication within an archival context, its relationship to archives and its significance for the discipline.
  • Evaluate the book as a whole in terms of its usefulness to archivists and users of archival materials.
  • If appropriate, compare the publication to similar works.
  • Respond to the author’s thesis and opinions.
  • Do not focus on minor typographical or factual errors unless the work is significantly compromised.
  • For examples of reviews, see:

Huth, Geof. Review of Donors and Archives: A Guidebook for Successful Programs, by Aaron D. Purcell, American Archivist 79, no. 1 (2016): 201-204.

Laico, Christopher M. Review of Dissonant Archives: Contemporary Visual Culture and Contested Narratives in the Middle East, edited by Anthony Downey, American Archivist 79, no. 2 (2016): 468-472.

Style and Grammar Guidelines

American Archivist follows the style guidelines and guiding principles of The Chicago Manual of Style. Terms having special meanings for members of the profession should conform to the definitions in the Dictionary of Archives Terminology. Reviews’ variations from these standards should be minimal and purposeful. For spelling and usage, reviewers should reference the latest edition of Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.

The reviewer is responsible for understanding and following the principles that govern the “fair use” of quotations and for obtaining written permission to publish, where necessary. Accuracy in endnote citations is also the reviewer's responsibility, although the editors may occasionally confirm the accuracy of selected citations.

American Archivist will not consider a review that is being reviewed by another journal at the same time, nor will it normally consider a review that has been published previously in a similar form.


Reviews should be approximately 1,500 words in length. For review essays, the length and topic will be decided upon in advance with the Reviews Editors and journal Editor.

Bibliographic Information

Reviewers must identify bibliographic information at the beginning of the review, which should include in the following order: title (in bold); author(s) or editor(s); place of publication; publisher; year of publication; extent of pages; publication format(s) (e.g., hardcover/softcover/EPUB/PDF); currency and price; and ISBN or ISSN. For example:

Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing
By Matthew G. Kirschenbaum. Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2016. 368 pp. Hardcover. $29.95. ISBN 978-0-67441-707-6.


American Archivist uses Arabic numeral endnotes. Endnotes should conform to standard bibliographic style found in the latest edition of The Chicago Manual of Style.

Quoting from the Publication

When quoting or paraphrasing from the publication being reviewed, note the page number preceded by a “p.” (or “pp.” for more than one page) in round brackets at the end of the quote. For example:

In her essay, artist Mariam Ghani, for example, asserts that “the task of the artist in an archive... is to understand which of the archive’s preserved pasts relate to the present moment of danger, and to translate and narrate that past into the present” (p. 54).

Author Information

The reviewer’s name and institution should appear at the end of the review, aligned to the right.


Reviewers retain copyright of their work and license publication to American Archivist.

Except where otherwise noted, article content in American Archivist is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 3.0 United States License. Some rights reserved.

Open Access

All reviews published in American Archivist are open access.

Requesting a Review Copy

The Reviews Editors will contact the publisher on the reviewer’s behalf to request a complimentary review copy of the publication. The review copy becomes the property of the reviewer upon publication of the review.

Editorial Review and Production Procedures

Reviews are evaluated by the Reviews Editors, who may recommend edits and revisions to reviews. Reviewers will be notified of suggested revisions and edits within approximately four weeks following submission. Acceptance for publication is usually on the condition that specified revisions be made. Reviewers are given the opportunity to approve all editorial changes and to review page proofs for correction of printer’s errors only. The minimum editorial and production cycle—which includes receipt of a review, evaluation, revision, acceptance, page makeup, printing and distribution—is approximately nine to twelve months; various factors can affect that time period.

Upon publication, reviewers receive a complimentary PDF of their review.


Inquiries about material to be reviewed or to become a reviewer should be directed to:

Reviews Editors Rose Buchanan (Archivist, Archives 1 Reference Branch, National Archives and Records Administration) and Stephanie Luke (Metadata Librarian, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign) at

Publishers may send review copies to:
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
ATTN: Stephanie Luke 
1408 W Gregory Drive 
M/C 522
Urbana, IL 61801