1 Writing a Literature Review in Higher Degree Research Gillian Colclough & Lindy Kimmins Learning & Teaching Support
2 This presentation: Aims of a literature review Thoughts about a good literature review Writing the literature review
3 Firstly: This presentation assumes that you have completed your research proposal * and completed enough preliminary work to have an idea of some of the literature on your topic. You will add to this preliminary research to write your literature review. *Not quite there yet? See UTS Sydney
4 Aims of a literature review Introduces the research topic Justifies the approach taken in the thesis Shows the need for the research Shows that you have broad and specific knowledge in your area of interest Gets the marker interested!
5 Summarily: The Literature Review is as important as your research and findings.
6 Good literature reviews Use up to date examples Show the most recent research on this topic It doesn t matter if you don t agree with other research on the topic in fact, it is good to show literature or experiments that disagree with yours. This gives you the chance to show why yours is better Are coherently written Good sentence structure is vital, i.e. Lynne Truss: punctuation directs you how to read, in the way musical notation directs a musician how to play.
7 Good literature reviews... Use examples with global or cross-industry relevance, not just local relevance It is important to look beyond Queensland or Australia (or the place concerned in your work) for relevant applications of your theory or the situation it applies to It is good practice to see if your theory or a similar theory have been applied outside of the situation you are researching Show that you are an expert on this idea as well as its application
8 Good literature reviews... Keep on-track. You will find lots of interesting material about your topic or parts of your topic, but it is important to think about whether the material is interesting or essential to your thesis argument Keep to the essential Cut/copy and paste the interesting material into a file called Thesis cuts just in case you ever need it, but do not mention it in your literature review until you (or you and your supervisor) decide it is essential. Being selective about your material demonstrates your ability to think critically and therefore your professional competence.
9 Good literature reviews Show evidence of careful and logical analysis of other research BUT Focus on ideas, theories and results that are important to your argument You will be assessed according to quality, not quantity Make sure each source has a direct relationship to your argument
10 Good literature reviews Are not so long that they become boring Do not have typographical errors
11 In non-technical disciplines: Do not show tables or graphs in your review Describe them if relevant, but do not show them as images Avoid complex equations
12 However... Equations/formulae: If your entire thesis hinges upon argument about a single equation or formula, this would be mentioned because you would be referring to other literature about that formula. Otherwise, you might mention Smith s work on the theory suggests that it can be written differently, with an emphasis on... but focus on summarising their argument, not presenting it in detail. It will appear in detail in your chapters if it is critical to your argument. Technical/maths reviews are different
13 Illustrations in a literature review Use illustrations in your literature review or introduction if they are an important part of your argument. This illustration is central to the PhD thesis.
14 Note the way in which this writer has referred to four pieces of relevant research in one paragraph.
15 Good literature reviews Are logically organised Match the literature review to the chapters so that they follow the same sequence Regularly emphasise the relevance and importance of your topic Remember essential and interesting?
16 Getting it going... Organisation is critical Environment? Time to work uninterrupted?
17 BIG HINT BACK UP EVERY PIECE YOU WRITE Put computer on autosave Save on two flash drives OR your work to yourself after every session
18 BIG HINT 2 Make a separate document for every part of your work. You can combine them later Ask your supervisor how they want to see your writing
19 Ready to write... Make notes about each article you read Put a full reference in each note Record your impressions about the source s significance, usefulness, strengths, flaws. You could group the sources like this...
20 Methodology Is it considered proven? How did the researchers reach their conclusions? Do I agree or disagree with this? Do others see flaws in this method? Topic Is this relevant to my research theory? How relevant? Some researchers assign a relevance rating to what they read (1=high, 2=medium, 3=low) When they save a copy of an article, they save it with a date and relevance hint i.e. Smith pdf; Al Mahdy docx
21 Importance Did this research become a model for research that followed? Did it influence your ideas or methods? Did you find it easy to comprehend? OR Have its findings been superseded? Was it so wrong that it sent later researchers/manufacturers etc down a flawed path? (Fatal weakness?)
22 Getting ready to write the lit review.. Map the review as a mind map Or Make a list BUT Ensure that you have organised the material with the core literature most evident Group your notes so that they become sections of your review This may change later this is normal Few of us are perfect. Expect to make several drafts.
23 Mind map? Once, we wrote index cards which we then spread over a desk and put into groups. A mind map (basically, a glorified flow chart or process chart) does the same but electronically. Demo Personal Brain Make your own using PowerPoint SmartArt shapes This can be time-consuming
24 SmartArt shapes My thesis explores... It proposes that the problem of... can be solved by a re-writing of Jones contested findings on... In 2007, James D Jones proposed that... Jones work was well received at the time, as shown by A Khomeini s review in Several researchers have disagreed with Jones. For example, Nigel Chang proposed that... Another critic, Lynette Johnson, found similarly, but argued that... James D Jones, Imagining the..., Journal of Experimental Physics, Argues that Einstein s work on relativity was flawed because.. Nigel Chang, 2009, Khomeini s findings on Jones proved wrong, in Bad Physics. Routlege, New York Chang reviewed Khomeini and found flaws in key equations. Lynette Johnson, 2009, Khomeini adds to Jones error, in Bad Physics, Routlege... Johnson points out that apart from several maths errors, Jones misread a key... A Khomeini, 2009, Jones rewrites the Theory of Relativity, New Theories in Physics, 24, 2, Note to self: Other choice for this would be Frederick Engels, 2008,... Engels argues that
25 Smart Art
26 Another way to build literature review notes Start a word document and make an entry for each article/book you read: Weinberg S 1972, Gravitation and cosmology: principles and applications of the general theory of relativity Argues that there are no new theories Einstein did them all. Blah blah blah blah blah... Klein O, 1978, Quantum theory and 5-dimensional theory of relativity. See p.434 in particular for argument that... Eddington, Arthur Stanley, The mathematical theory of relativity, Cambridge: University Press, 1963, 2nd ed. Write words on each source. Make an Index entry for each new item, i.e.
28 Highlight author name>mark Entry. Add subentry if you want. Click Mark.
29 Now do another entry for the topic, then click Mark.
30 Change the setting out and entry type to suit yourself. Go to the end of your document, and click Insert Index (Put a page break first if you want the Index separated) Go to Home tab and unclick the mark
31 The Word doc and Index approach: You might end up with over 70 pages of brief entries. If you don t have a notation program (i.e. EndNote, APA referencing in Word*) these can be eventually copied and pasted to become your Bibliography. *Referencing in Word there is now a free Harvard add-on
32 How do others do it? Spend a few days looking at other people s Masters or PhD theses and see how they set out their literature reviews Many recent theses are online. Did they make sense to you? What did you like about them? Can one of these or a combination serve as a model for your review?
33 Literature Reviews today Literature review was once a separate part of a thesis Many students now include their Literature Review in their Introduction rather than separate it. This avoids duplication. Check with your supervisor or ask a recent graduate how they did theirs
34 Lit Review as Introduction - Arts
35 Literature Review as Introduction
37 Being ready to write... You have chosen a format You have conducted your research You have located other research on this topic You have made notes on each piece of literature You are familiar with your discipline s preferences for lit review presentation
38 The writing plan: the macro bit Map it out. Create a skeleton essay with just main points Use sub-headings when you do this you can delete them later Pad it out Add more information Check it out Does the paragraph order do justice to your argument?
39 The writing plan: the micro bit Paragraph level Map, pad, check again. Every paragraph is a mini-essay Every sentence has essential information Every following sentence builds on the previous one Every last line of a paragraph connects to the next paragraph
40 Let your writing reflect your knowledge Grammar Proof-read one line at a time Content Use a ruler or card to focus your eyes to a single sentence Read it out loud or get someone else to Check Learning Centre quick-tips Are calculations correct? Are charts properly labelled? Persuasiveness
41 Persuasiveness Grammar plays a part in this Sentence length too long, too many ideas = boring Argument Did your argument get stronger as you wrote? What your markers read in your lit review could influence their reading of the entire thesis Restate your thesis at the end of the review
42 Leave it alone. Try and put the work aside for a week Fresh eyes see it better
43 Last checks for now Does your supervisor want to see it now? Adjust according to feedback Create clearly labelled documents for each of the chapters Match them to the ideas in your lit review Put the lit review aside Leave it alone until you ve written the chapters
44 Last check near submission Check lit review word count Think about matching the word count to other chapters Check that your chapters reflect the order that you addressed issues in your lit review Plan time to read the whole thesis in one sitting Have a sad moment?
45 Sad moments 1. Some of your ideas may have changed Check that you haven t contradicted yourself in the lit review or body 2. It s nearly over Minor edits to strengthen are OK and probably useful 3. You made something beautiful and now some stranger is going to read it critically but
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