Book Reviews: Another item type?

Hi, thanks for a GREAT tool!

I wonder if it would be possible to add an item type for "book" review articles, I am used to these being cited differently to "straight" articles. I mean where scholar B writes a review of scholar B's book...
  • Given the diversity of different kinds of reviews, it might make more sense to treat them as relations. Article --> review of --> Book/Play/Film.

    I think in general the Zotero crews needs a forward-looking strategy on this, rather than to just constantly add new types. The current list of types is already starting to get a little incoherent.
  • The list of basic types at might be a good place to start...
  • edited October 29, 2006
    @TimB -- it's a nice site, but I actually think their categorization isn't appropriate, at least not when you get into the details of their subtypes. I think it's a mistake, for example, to mix media (electronic vs. print) with type with distribution mechanism or format (online vs. physical). That you sometimes see this now is largely a function of policies set during the initial birth of the internet, but which are gradually changing. In a decade, it's likely that almost everything we cite will be available online, with some very rare exceptions.

    Ultimately a type policy needs to be driven by a set of requirements; what do you want to achieve? There may be different -- and sometimes conflicting -- requirements here: citation formatting precision, finding records, GUI configuration, etc.

    In general, despite common wisdom, citation formatting is actually not terribly dependent on type, but rather on other details.
  • On the question of media I tend to agree with you, I don't care where the article came from or how it was delivered. Nor does my reader, we simply need the coordinates to find it in the system available to us...

    BUT in my field we quite often need to cite someone's review of a book. This is different from a standard journal article. Therefore the citation schemes like Chicago treat Book Reviews as a different type from Journal Article. (Just as my University's annual research report does ;)

    If Zotero is to honestly claim that it outputs in e.g. Chicago style then it meeds to include the main data types that Chicago handles...
  • edited October 30, 2006
    Ah yes, CVs; yup, that's a reasonable requirement too :-)

    The section on citing reviews doesn't really treat book reviews any differently than other types of reviews though.

    On this:

    "If Zotero is to honestly claim that it outputs in e.g. Chicago style then it meeds to include the main data types that Chicago handles..."

    The problem is what constitutes a "main type" is in the eye of the beholder. When I've looked at this previously, I counted somewhere between 50 and 75. And that's just for Chicago. It doesn't cover other styles. So do we really want to end up with, say, 100 types in Zotero, and bloated style files that are more difficult to write and debug?

    I'm the author of CSL and the Chicago style that Zotero uses. It's my contention that it can correctly format the vast majority of citations with a small handful of templates. This is because citation formatting is, despite common wisdom, NOT fundamentally about type. There are patterns and conventions that are more important.

    I started to try to show this here:

    Let me be clear: I'm not saying there shouldn't be a book review type in the GUI; just that there needs to be a policy for new types, and that it needs to be integrated into the larger data strategy (with the RDF and such).
  • Ah, OK, we seem to be talking at cross purposes. The page you referenced explains nice and clearly why the system needs to have certain (and a restricted number of) fields. That makes perfect sense. I am not arguing for another datafield. But rather that either the list that pops up when I mouseover the "New Item" button should include "Review article" or that the system when it pulls in the data from EBSCO or wherever recognise and format Reviews "properly" and these output forms differ in
    APA the title goes: "[Review of the book <i>Not all wives: Women of colonial Philadelphia</i>]
    Chicago includes the name of the author of the book reviewed and prefixes differently: "Review of <i>Not All Wives: Women of Colonial Philadelphia</i>, by Karen Wulf."

    I am not a programmer, but it seems to me that this sort of difference requires that the data cannot keep the "title" of the review article in the title field, as the different schemes deal with it differently....
  • PS, I am not intending to be stroppy, but am really keen that we can adopt Zotero and I can recommend it to my students. At present it is really good, brilliant even, but lacks a few "small" things that I need. The ability to output formatted citations of Book Review articles is one, and the ability to import from our library system is another, but since it is not a very widely used system I expect that we would find a way to do that perhaps in collaboration with the supplier.
  • edited October 30, 2006
    I'll enhance the Chicago style to make sure you're covered (when I get a chance) TimB. Might actually be useful to create a "CV" style in the future, complete with proper grouping by type.

    A question, though: one tricky issue with reviews is that formatting depends as much on how the review is published as on what one is reviewing (book vs. play). Shall I just assume that a review is always published as an article?

    Also, how would you propose to enter review data? Do you expect fields like "reviewed title" and "reviewed author" and so forth? Or would you see doing (as I often do) a review title like "review of XYZ"?

    More broadly, probably where we (Zotero and related projects) need to get to is configurable types, assembled based on common components. That tends to be how I've thought about CSL. So perhaps the citation style would have a default template called "review" and that would be the fallback for all reviews. Then there'd be more specific template types like "review-book" if needed.

    This would mirror the current "article" and "article-journal" and "article-newspaper" sort of structure.
  • The easiest way to add book reviews is to add "reviewed title" field and "reviewed author"/"reviewed editor" author types to all article item types--this allows for correct bibliographic formatting for journal/magazine/newspaper books reviews.
  • The EBSCO databases do not seem to be really helpful, just listing the data as e.g.:

    Title: Jonah's Journeys.
    Authors: Pyper, H. S.
    Source: Journal for the Study of the Old Testament; Jun2006, Vol. 30 Issue 5, p69-69, 1/3p
    Document Type: Book Review
    Subject Terms: BIBLE. O.T. Jonah
    BOOKS -- Reviews
    GREEN, Barbara
    JONAH'S Journeys (Book)
    Abstract: Reviews the book "Jonah's Journeys," by Barbara Green.
    ISSN: 0309-0892
    Accession Number: 21439393
    Persistent link to this record:
    Database Religion and Philosophy Collection

    Which means there would be some complex shifting to get it into a state to output right, my guess would be that "reviewed title" and "reviewed author" might be the way to go... Those two would seem to cover most cases...
  • edited November 3, 2006
    I have pretty much no technical help to offer but just some hearty encouragement. A review tag would be great; my own field is classical studies and book reviews are a common bibliographical feature.

    Zotero looks fantastic, btw. I plan to recommend it to my students!
  • I'd like to stress the need for a better treatment of review articles. Much of what researchers using JSTOR access are review articles; the current output doesn't assist, and -- in fact, if Zotero is used in conjunction with a desktop Biblio app (like Bookends or Endnote) and PDF filer (like Devonthink Pro), MUCH of the benefit is lost, as one is downloading a long list of nameless bibliographic entries.

    Apologies, but I'm not technically in the know of how to solve this problem. But, as a user, know that it is very important. Thanks for a great, great tool.
  • I still thank you for a great tool, but still believe that for scholars in fields where published reviews of book length works are sometimes cited, and often used in student essays the lack of a "book review" type is a pity, if you don't know how these should be organised Duke university library has a good summary page at
  • edited February 27, 2009
    I see that this discussion started several years ago, but I don't see that a book review item has been added yet (though I do see a "Reviewed Author" field, though I'm not sure what purpose it serves). Please do add a book review item. I have scores of book reviews in my dissertation.

    Here's what I need:

    Schreiner, Thomas R. Review of Women in the Church: A Biblical Theology of Women in Ministry, by Stanley J. Grenz with Denise Muir Kjesbo. Trinity Journal 17:1 (Spring 1996): 114–24.

    Davidson, Max. Review of Our Triune God, by Peter Toon. Evangelical Review of Theology 21 (1997): 285–86.

    I use Turabian, which is very similar to CMOS.

    I think adding a field for "Reviewed Book" would be sufficient, since there is already a "Reviewed Author" field.
  • I strongly agree with Phil. I'm have several book reviews to cite in my PhD dissertation I'm working on, and it'd be great if Zotero added a book review option.
  • As a poli sci PhD, I'm finding that the lack of a "speech" item is a problem -- while the source of the transcript is somewhat useful (i.e. as a document) then it lacks location, which is important. For example, I want to include the transcript or online recording of Obama's speech at Notre Dame. How have others dealt with this? Is this an item type that can/should be added
  • I usually use a generic document or webpage type to encode the transcript information.

    I don't think the zotero model and ui is currently flexible enough to handle this correctly in terms of being able separately represent and link, say, the speech event, and the video and text transcript. But I expect that will change.
  • ProfJoni: If you need a more specific item type Presentation includes a location.
  • edited May 26, 2009
    I'd like to voice my support for a "Review" item type as well - citing reviews of books is a major part of my discipline, as many of our journals have sections devoted to reviewing the scholarship of the field. These reviews come into broad use in further research and publications.

    Having a field for "Reviewed Book" (to go along with ""Reviewed Author") would be vital.

    As an example, the review by Joseph Janangelo, itself titled "Rethinking Style and Reversing Hierarchies," is on Richard Lanham's book The Economics of Attention. The review was published in the journal College English. Under MLA style, it would populate in the bibilography as:

    Janangelo, Joseph. "Rethinking Style and Reversing Hierarchies." Rev. of The Economics of Attention: Style and Substance in the Age of Information, by Richard A. Lanham. College English 69.5 (May 2007): 49-56.
  • I agree this would be nice. Thanks.
  • I'd like a "Book Review" item type as well, and/or a "Reviewed Title" field.
  • edited October 9, 2009
    Lack of support for reviewed items is my only reason for resisting a transition from EndNote to Zotero. What a tease! I hope the developers are not underestimating the prevalence of article and book reviews in our bibliographies (approximately 10% in my case).
  • Technical note: in a possible Zotero implementation, this would need to distinguish the review author from the reviewed author, hence another label distinction for the creator field.
  • I do research on computer games, but I find that there is no good way to register computer games in zotero. Registering them as computer programs doesn't give the appropriate format in the reference list. Is there any way to add this kind of field as an extension of the program that people (like me) who have this special need can use?
  • no, Zotero is non-customizable by design.
    But what exactly do you need, maybe there is some other way to do this - i.e. give us a sample citation for a computer game.
  • edited November 19, 2009
    The most well-established standard is that used by the journal Game Studies (, which I think is a variant of Chicago style:

    Developer. (Year). Title [italicized]. Distributor (Platform [i.e. Windows, Wii, Board game etc]). Webpage [if online game]

    So, for instance:
    Blizzard Entertainment. 2004. World of Warcraft. Blizzard Entertainment (Windows and Mac OS X).
  • that looks pretty standard, no?
    What if you just treat this as a book?
    Item types are really mainly to support different ways of citing.
    For sorting purposes you can still use tags.
  • Well, the platform information is often essential. It seems that the only way to have it included is to include it in the publisher field, which will work fine until the moment you need to use a different citation style, which places the platform info somewhere else. At which point you have to redo all your references - whereas the whole point of using zotero is to avoid that kind of work...
  • ok, fair enough.
    But then the problem seems to me not that you need more customizability (which is often synonymous for "hacks that don't travel between users"), but
    a) that the computer program item type can be called using if type= in the csl (which it cannot atm) and
    b) that the "system" variable in that item type is mapped to csl (which it isn't atm).

    I'd encourage you to open a new thread with that as a request referencing this discussion as well as your citation style requirements. You've kind of hijacked the "book review" discussion with this, which isn't a good idea if we want to keep this forum ordered.
  • ok, will do (even if I didn't fully understand the technical part of your comments). I just thought this was the same problem (regarding types).
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