Blog Improvement Project Week #11: Book Reviews by the Numbers

by Kim on June 1, 2009 · 11 comments

2009bip-150x210Oh man, am I excited for this week’s BIP topic! This week’s task is a content analysis of book reviews to get some info about reviews. How long are they? How personal are they? How many paragraphs does the average book review have?

By comparing book reviews written by bloggers to reviews written by professionals, I hope we can come up with some interesting stats to know more about what makes a book review.

The Backstory

This idea is something I came up with a couple months ago, but had to put off because I didn’t have the time to do it justice. Now that summer is here, I think we all have the time to make this awesome.

This task is modeled after an activity I did in a couple of writing classes. In order to think about how academic writing works, our professor made each of us break down a page in an academic article. We counted how many words were in each paragraph, how long each sentence was, stuff like that. We put all the stats together and got a picture, numerically, of what academic writing is. We could then compare that to our own writing to see how well we were meeting the conventions other academics use.

Doing this isn’t going to definitively say what is a “good” review — I mostly want to compare some numbers between professional and amateur (not the word I want exactly, but you get it) reviews. So, that’s what we’re gonna do.

Add here’s the task:

  • Pick a book review you’ve written that you’re particularity proud of. Then, search around until you find at least one other professional review of the same book. If you don’t write book reviews, compare a review of something else instead.
  • webpageWhen you have some time (I’d say 30-45 minutes) follow this link to a Google Docs spreadsheet (nice anchor text, right?). It should look something like the picture at the right (but hopefully with more lines filled in).
  • Fill in your name, blog URL, and book title in the lines. Feel following the columns and answering the questions as best you can for both of the reviews you have.
  • Once you’re done, spend some time thinking about what you’ve observed. This can be about the numbers, or it can just be general impressions of the two reviews. If you’re feeling excited, write a post explaining some of your findings and what this comparison helped you learn about your reviews or about reviewing in general. Leave a link back to your post in the comments.
  • For extra credit, find a few more reviews of the book you chose (another blogger, or a professional), or pick another book and add the stats for your review and a professional review. The more entries we have, the more I think we can learn.

So that’s that. Since it’s summer, I am more confident I’ll have time to go some analysis of our combined findings to see if I can get some numbers to compare. You can always go back to the link over the course of the next few weeks to see what others have found.

If you have problems with the link, please e-mail me. If you have any BIP comments generally, please do the same.

We’re almost half way through the BIP folks, congrats and good luck with the task this week!

Previous post:

Next post: