Principal Criteria for Selection
Readership level: Appropriate for undergraduates, whether in a community college, four-year college, or university.
Content: Complements the undergraduate curriculum and is suitable for inclusion in an academic library collection.
Quality: Authoritative, well presented, and well organized; should include appropriate supporting apparatus, e.g., index, illustrations, bibliography, notes, and appendixes.
Language: English, with the exception of foreign-language dictionaries and bilingual publications.
Place of publication/production, and price: Any country, but a price in U.S. currency must be available.
Publisher: The full range of scholarly, trade, association, and government publishers. We give special attention to university presses because readers are particularly interested in their output and because university press publications represent a high level of scholarship. We give serious consideration to the works of small and alternative presses because their titles may never be reviewed elsewhere. We review self-published works very selectively.
Publication/release date (books only): Must be current. Titles ideally should come to us within three months of publication. We carefully scrutinize publications older than six months, sending out those we deem particularly important or unique.
Review copy: Finished works only; we do not review prepublication forms such as uncorrected advance reader copies or page proofs.
Monographs: We give highest priority to monographs because they are usually the most complete and cohesive treatments of a subject.
Edited volumes: Because they are often specialized treatments and/or include contributions of uneven quality, we review edited volumes selectively. We are especially vigilant in scrutinizing edited volumes for quality, coherence, and accessibility to undergraduates.
Collections of previously published works: We rarely review collected works, anthologies, or “readers” of materials previously published in readily accessible sources. We may select collections that are timely, unique (e.g., the collection principal is unusual or creative or the editorial apparatus casts significant new light on the contents), or provide convenient, one-volume access to scattered or difficult-to-obtain material.
Government documents: We review government publications selectively and focus on U.S. documents. In reviewing these resources, we prefer online versions to print publications.
Instructional manuals and how-to items: We carefully screen instructional publications, giving preference to resources in subject areas where they are particularly valuable for self-study and reference: for example, science and technology, business, and sports and physical education. We consider how-to books if they are particularly appropriate for community-college students.
Materials for children: We review materials for children only if they are reference resources or support the study of children’s literature or elementary education.
Microforms: We review microfiche and microform only when the material of interest is not available in other formats.
Multivolume sets: We review small sets (two to four volumes) together when possible. For longer sets or sets published over time, we usually review only the first two volumes and the last volume of the set; we may review interim volumes if the time between release of individual volumes is significant or if the set has undergone a major change in scope. We prefer to review large multivolume sets in electronic format.
Popularizations: We review popular works only if we judge the work authoritative and sufficiently documented.
Reprints: We rarely review previously published material but may consider a reissue of a significant book originally published in a very small edition abroad or originally released by an obscure publisher.
Revisions and new editions: We review revised works selectively, giving priority to those that have undergone major changes; editions published after a considerable period of time; significant titles not previously reviewed in Choice; and works in constantly evolving disciplines (e.g., science and technology).
Serials and continuations: We usually review only the first volume of serials (e.g., annual compilations, yearbooks, “advances in” publications). We assess monographic volumes issued in a series on a case-by-case basis, reviewing them individually except when we deem a group review of more value. We may review Web-based journals if the overall site presents significant additional material of interest.
Symposia, conferences, and festschriften: We review such works only if they are well integrated, focus on a topic of interest to undergraduates, and/or cover an important topic not well covered in other works.
Textbooks: We very selectively review textbooks, choosing only those that represent a basic treatise or synthesis of a subject, particularly of a new or complex subject, or those that have value as stand-alone references.
Translations: We consider materials translated into English for the first time according to the Principal Criteria, outlined above.
The Principal Criteria, as outlined above, also apply to electronic resources, which encompass full-text and abstracting/indexing databases, CD-ROMs/DVDs, computer software (especially bibliographic management products), Internet sites, e-books with no print counterparts, e-reference works, and collections of e-books and e-journals. We review both commercial (fee-based) and open/free electronic Web sites, the latter including those that offer unrestricted full-text access to material, including digital archives; collections of research journals; preprints/e-prints; and discipline-specific repositories. We selectively review Web-based magazines, courseware, and electronic sites based on collaborative authorship (including wikis and blogs/Weblogs), carefully scrutinizing the quality of the material and the content review processes. Criteria particular to electronic resources include the following:
Access (commercial databases only): We try to arrange a free trial of several months--via username/password (or IP range)--so that both editor and reviewer can evaluate the full database. When a free trial is not available, we may ask a reviewer to selectively evaluate resources available through his or her library.
Scope: We give priority to resources that are comprehensive or broad in coverage.
Comparative formats: We review electronic resources that are available only in electronic format (including e-books), along with those that have print counterparts. In selecting electronic resources with print counterparts, we give priority to large, multivolume reference works and to online products that offer unique content or more features than their print versions (e.g., more frequent updates, greater functionality).
Multimedia: We review selected CD-ROMs/DVDs and Internet sites offering collections of streamed or downloadable full-length video, audio, and multimedia; we do not review video clips or individual videocassettes.
Currency and updates: We need product information that shows evidence that the publisher/producer plans regular updates (when necessary and appropriate).
Hardware and software: Technical requirements of a product should be compatible with standard and commonly available hardware and software in libraries and on computer networks available to undergraduates.
Publication or release date: Though we strive for currency in reviewing electronic resources, we are more flexible with respect to publication date when assigning them for review because identifying and procuring these resources is more time consuming and more complicated. In addition, many new products undergo revisions to correct technical flaws, a process that may delay review. We may re-review an online resource when content has changed substantially or when the developers have substantially upgraded the interface.
Stability of content: Electronic products and Internet sites should be stable in content and format. We review beta sites for products still in development only when they are of sufficient interest that Choice readers will benefit from learning about an early version.