Managing evaluation: Criticism in two academic review genres

Hang Zou, Ken Hyland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
10 Downloads (Pure)


Academic blogs are becoming increasingly frequent, visible and important in both disciplinary and ‘outreach’ communication, offering a space for scholars and interested publics to discuss and evaluate research. Like the more traditional book review, blog responses require writers to engage and assess the ideas presented in another, public, text, but bloggers face criticism from both lay and academic readers in ways that may be unfamiliar to them. In this paper we consider how far blog responses are an ‘academic review genre’ like the familiar book review, and compare how writers construct criticism in the two genres. Based on two corpora of 36 book reviews and 270 blog comments, we examine the frequency, form and focus of criticism exploring how the constraints and affordances of each genre contribute to very different evaluative contexts. We show that the medium has a significant impact on the strategies writers use and that blog comments both reflect the directness and informality of online communication while respecting some of the conventions of academic engagement. The results contribute to our understanding of how context influences rhetorical choices and may be valuable to those participating in both blogs and review genres.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-112
Number of pages15
JournalEnglish for Specific Purposes
Early online date6 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • Blog comment
  • Book review
  • Critical acts
  • Mitigation devices

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