JFP: Book review guidelines
Please mail Simon
Thompson if you would like to review books for the
Journal of Functional Programming; here are
some books currently available for review, but
suggestions of other books to review are also very welcome.
These guidelines are not intended to tell you exactly what a review should be
like; rather they are offered as hints about points a review might visit, as
well as suggesting some pitfalls to avoid.
What is the purpose of a book review in JFP?
The principal aim of a book review is to appraise critically both the
material in the book and the way in which it is presented.
It can also be used as a springboard to launch an intellectual discussion:
should functional programming be taught in a particular way; what are the
advantages and disadvantages of different approaches to state in functional
languages; and so forth.
What should it contain?
- Context: for a review to be accessible to as many readers as
possible a review needs to contain something about the context in
which the book is written.
- If it is a textbook, does it reflect current best practice in
teaching functional programming and the principles of programming
- Overview: what are the contents? This should not be a list of
chapters or sections, but rather summarise the main themes of the
text; more details of the material can emerge in the body of the
review. For a collection of papers it is important to say something
about each paper, preferably pulling together groups of papers with
- Audience: what is the intended audience? Does the book address that
audience; does it make plain any pre-requisites there are for
- Comparison: particularly for textbooks it is likely that similar
material has already appeared in other books. One way of dealing
with this is in a comparative review; if you have suggestions
about books which might be usefully compared with the text in
question, let the review editor know. Otherwise please make
comparisons with earlier books. These might have previously
been reviewed in JFP or in Computing Reviews - cross-references
would be useful.
- Appraisal of ideas: are these novel, how do they fit into research
in functional programming and more widely? It is useful for a
review to present a summary of the most important concepts
which the book introduces. For a research monograph, this is the
heart of the review.
- Production: are there any particular problems with the form of
the book? Are there substantial numbers of typos, or errors in the
technical material? Are contents, index, glossary and bibliography
adequate? Are any backup materials available by FTP or on the
WWW? If so, can you comment on what is available and its
- Conclusion: what is your overall assessment of the book? What
are its best and worst features? Would you buy it, recommend it,
use it, treasure it? [The last question is courtesy of the guidelines
for ACM Computing Reviews.]
There is no preferred length of review although a typical review might be
between 1000 and 1500 words; reviewers should judge the
appropriate length in the light of the guidelines and the book in
Reviews are acceptable on paper or electronically and should be sent to: