Selection Policy

Subject Guidelines

The guidelines in the criteria sections apply to works reviewed in all disciplines. The following guidelines (arranged alphabetically by subject and disciplinary areas) detail additional considerations for works in particular subjects. We assign interdisciplinary tags to reviews of materials in a variety of broad areas (see part 4, Interdisciplinary Indexes). SUBSECTIONS of a given area appear at the end of general entries, further detailed as appropriate. SEE ALSO references point readers to other subjects under which reviews pertinent to the subject may appear.

Anthropology: Covers all periods and geographic regions; comprises reviews of works in archaeology, physical anthropology, social and cultural anthropology, ethnology, anthropological linguistics, history of anthropology (including biography), theory and methodology, and comparative studies. We may review popular works in newly developing fields of inquiry, such as indigenous knowledge and cultural property. SEE ALSO: Ancient History; Biology; History, Geography & Area Studies; Language & Literature; Religion; Sociology.

Art & Architecture (general): Encompasses all geographic areas and time periods; includes primarily reviews of monographs and scholarly exhibition catalogues. We review works on critical theory, gender studies, the social history of art, and visual studies; we selectively review catalogues raisonnés, lavishly illustrated trade publications, and works on performance, installation, and environmental art. The general section covers design, including graphic and industrial design, and computer-based graphics and design; commercial art titles (selectively); the decorative arts, including artisanal work in ceramics, glass, metal, stone, and wood; textiles and fiber arts; personal objects such as clothing and jewelry; art sometimes regarded as craft (pottery, basketry); works using digital media, animation, film, and video; and works on illuminated manuscripts. SEE ALSO: Anthropology and History, Geography & Area Studies (for material culture and museum studies); Communication and Performing Arts (for digital media, animation, film, and video); Performing Arts (for clothing and jewelry); Reference (for book design and history).


Fine Arts: Aesthetic theory, prints and drawings, paintings, sculpture, art history, and materials describing art and artists of specific historical periods, including contemporary artists.

Architecture: Aesthetics, culture, history, interior design, landscape architecture, urban planning and historic preservation, and building. SEE ALSO: Botany (for practical works on landscape architecture); Engineering (for technical aspects of building); History, Geography & Area Studies (for urban planning and historic preservation).

Photography: History of photography, significant photographers, and, selectively, technical manuals on photography. SEE ALSO: History, Geography & Area Studies (for history of photography).

Astronautics & Astronomy: Practical and spherical astronomy, instrumentation, celestial mechanics, and descriptive astronomy (universe, galaxies, stars, solar system); and space research and exploration, including extraterrestrial life, spacecraft, and astronautical engineering if the treatment is suitably descriptive and general. We selectively review theoretical treatments of astrophysics and cosmology.

Biology (general): Broad and multidisciplinary works on biology, including evolutionary, molecular, environmental, and systematic biology; biogeography; microbiology; ecology; natural history; food and agriculture; physical and biological anthropology; and biotechnology. We give preference to materials on techniques and applications suitable for regions in North America. We review gardening and landscaping publications for lay readers only if they have historical or artistic interest; we selectively review works limited to a small geographic region and specialized discussions of unusual plants. SEE ALSO: Anthropology (for physical and biological anthropology): Chemistry; Engineering; Health Sciences (for biotechnology).


Botany: Plant physiology and pathology, horticulture, agricultural and economic botany, agronomy, forestry, treatments of botanical gardens and expeditions, and landscape architecture. SEE ALSO: Art & Architecture (for landscape design).

Zoology: Vertebrate and invertebrate zoology, including anatomy, physiology, genetics, pathology, entomology, ichthyology, ornithology, animal physiology and behavior, and the physiological aspects of humans (as primates).

Business, Management & Labor: Scholarly and practical titles on management, marketing, human resources, labor studies, organizational behavior, finance, accounting, entrepreneurship, international business, e-commerce, business ethics, and career guidance. We give priority to publications that address business as practiced in the United States but also treat international and comparative business approaches. We review works on individual companies, business figures, and the business practices of other countries if the topic is relevant to the curriculum of institutions in the United States. We consider popular and how-to works that contain supporting materials (e.g., notes, bibliographies, case studies), have instructional or self-study value, or are likely to appeal to beginning students. We seldom review personal finance titles. SEE ALSO: Communication (for advertising); History, Geography & Area Studies (for labor and business history).

Chemistry: Analytical, inorganic, organic, biochemical, environmental, and physical chemistry (including chemical aspects of thermodynamics, and electrochemistry). We review theoretical treatments and publications emphasizing combinatorial chemistry and supramolecular techniques if they are appropriate for undergraduates. We selectively review clinical chemistry, applied and industrial chemistry, and chemical technology. SEE ALSO: Biology and Engineering (for biotechnology).

Communication: Public address and rhetoric, interpersonal communication, journalism, propaganda, free speech and censorship, radio and television as information and entertainment media, cartooning and comics, and new media, including video gaming. We review memoirs and biographies of individuals and histories of newspapers, broadcasting stations, networks, and emerging media technologies based on the importance of the subject, seriousness of the approach, and adequacy of the coverage. We consider titles treating production and management of media that are suitable for undergraduates and resources on popular radio and television programs that offer perceptive comment, analysis, or historical perspective. We rarely select collections of public addresses without annotation or other scholarly apparatus; how-to books on speech making; or collections of introductions, anecdotes, or speakers’ aids. SEE ALSO: Art (for cartooning and comics); Business, Management & Labor (for advertising); Information & Computer Science (for technical aspects of video gaming).

Earth Science: Structural geology, geophysics, geochemistry, mineralogy, petrology, oceanography, meteorology and climatology (including global warming, climate change, and the atmosphere), environmental geology, paleontology, economic geology, and biogeography. We selectively review works related to petroleum geology and remote sensing (e.g., geographic information systems). We rarely review narrow treatments of geological topics and discussions of remote regions. SEE ALSO: Physics (for meteorology and climatology topics).

Economics: Microeconomics, macroeconomics, and works covering the major divisions of the discipline: economic theory, methodology, and history; monetary economics; public finance; regional economic systems; development economics; international economics and trade; financial economics; industrial economics; environmental and natural resource economics; welfare and labor economics; and diverse theories, perspectives, and approaches to economic analyses and issues. We very selectively review mathematical treatments, specialized or narrow works, titles focused on individual states and cities, and popular titles (particularly those on personal finance and investing). SEE ALSO: History, Geography & Area Studies (for economic history); Political Science (for political economy).

Education: The philosophy, foundations, history, and theoretical underpinnings of education. We review titles on curriculum and instruction (pre-kindergarten through grade 12, all subject areas), educational and developmental psychology, teaching methods, and developing areas of education (e.g., multicultural education, inclusion, technology education, and distance education) if they deal with the United States and we deem them appropriate for students in teacher-preparation programs. We selectively review works on evaluation and supervision; specific problems and educational policies (e.g., school violence, student performance, charter schools, and comparative education); and resources on higher education that evaluate issues, history, and teaching. SEE ALSO: Business, Management & Labor (for adult or workforce education); History, Geography & Area Studies (for historical treatments).

Engineering: Chemical, civil, environmental, mechanical, and electrical engineering. We selectively review vocational and technical materials; mathematical treatments of engineering principals; works on United States codes, practices, and standards; and resources on ISO standards. Chemical engineering encompasses alternative fuels, ceramics, development and application of manufacturing processes, the design and operation of chemical process plants, and the treatment and disposal of industrial waste products. Civil engineering encompasses design, construction, and maintenance of existing structures; soil mechanics; water resources engineering; building and architectural engineering; transportation and traffic engineering; environmental engineering; and selected nuclear engineering works. Mechanical engineering encompasses machine design and testing, automotive engineering, bioengineering, aeronautical engineering, control engineering, heat transfer, and metallurgical topics including heat treatment, alloy fabrication, corrosion, elasticity and plasticity, end uses of engineering materials, and composite materials as appropriate to the various technologies using these materials. Electrical engineering encompasses design, construction, use of electric and electronic components (e.g., circuits, telecommunication systems, and control systems), and robotics. SEE ALSO: Art & Architecture (for building design); Biology and Chemistry (for biotechnology); Information & Computer Science (for robotics).

Health Sciences: General-interest resources on prevention and treatment of disease; basic medical sciences (including human anatomy/physiology, genetics, and pathology); socio-cultural topics related to planning and policy, the law, and economics; biomedical ethics; community and public health; environmental and occupational health, including toxicology; mental disorders; histories of disease, medicine, and health care; complementary and holistic medicine; allied health and nursing resources discussing clinical knowledge and skills as practiced in North America; speech, language, physical, and occupational therapy; exercise physiology and sports medicine; nutrition; and pharmacy and pharmacology. We selectively review popular and consumer-health resources. SEE ALSO: Biology (for microbiology); Economics (for medical economics); History of Science & Technology (for histories of disease, medicine, and health care); Philosophy (for biomedical ethics); Psychology (for mental disorders); Sports & Recreation (for exercise physiology and sports medicine).

History, Geography & Area Studies (general): The general section and its subsections include works on all periods, prehistoric to present; all geographic areas (with particular emphasis on North America); and all history genres (e.g., political, social, intellectual, economic, and cultural history; philosophy of history; and historiography). We pay particular attention to such developing areas of scholarship as world and global history and to interdisciplinary approaches. The general heading includes broad and theoretical works and resources that embrace more than one of the subsections. SEE ALSO: Anthropology; Art & Architecture (for urban planning and historic preservation); History of Science & Technology; Language & Literature (for primary documents); Political Science; Sociology.


Africa; Ancient History; Asia & Oceania; Central & Eastern Europe; Latin America & the Caribbean; Middle East & North Africa; North America; United Kingdom; Western Europe

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