How should we categorize the writing of a book review or commentary? Is it a form of scholarship or is it a form of community service? Clearly it is a bit of both, but I tend to emphasize the service element of the task. A well-written review is not about showing off how well you understand the subject; being knowledgeable and insightful is a pre-requisite for writing a good review, but the real task is providing a valuable overview of a work for one’s fellow time-starved scientists. I read reviews with one question in mind: “Is this a book or article I need to read?”. When I write reviews, I try to help my readers answer this question. As such, taking the time to carefully read and then report on a book or article is an act of community service, a small way of being altruistic.
I really enjoy reading in my field, from popular science to highly technical tomes. I am lucky to have the opportunity to share my impressions of these works through published reviews. Below is a current list of my reviews, many of which can be downloaded as a PDF:
Jensen, C. X J., 2017. Trophic Ecology: Bottom-Up and Top-Down Interactions across Aquatic and Terrestrial Systems. Quarterly Review of Biology 92:181.
Jensen, C. X J., 2016. Adolescent behavior doesn’t make sense (except in the light of cultural evolution). This View of Life.
Jensen, C. X J., 2016. Traditional Ethical Codes Prescribing Self-Sacrifice as a Puzzle to Evolutionary Theory. ASEBL Journal 12:57-60.
Jensen, C. X J., 2012. Ratio dependent predator–prey theory: Aged, mellowed, and distilled. Ecological Modelling 246:103-104.
Jensen, C. X J., 2012. The Age of Empathy: Nature’s Lessons for a Kinder Society. Quarterly Review of Biology 87:63.
Jensen, C. X J., 2010. Strange Bedfellows: The Surprising Connection between Sex, Evolution and Monogamy. Quarterly Review of Biology 85:505.
Jensen, C. X J., 2010. Wild Justice: The Moral Lives of Animals. Quarterly Review of Biology 85:226-227.
Jensen, C. X J., 2010. Into the Jungle. Quarterly Review of Biology 85:225.
Jensen, C. X J., 2009. Biological modeling and simulation: A survey of practical models, algorithms, and numerical methods. Quarterly Review of Biology 84:284.
Jensen, C. X J., 2003. Choosing and using statistics: a biologist’s guide. Quarterly Review of Biology 78:468.
I also provide brief reviews in my blog.