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The Literature Review The Learning Centre, UNSW Linda Burnett.

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1 The Literature Review The Learning Centre, UNSW http://www.lc.unsw.edu.au/ Linda Burnett

2 Overview Introduction Writing in your discipline Features of Literature Review (LR) structure Writer’s stance and voice language

3 Writing in your discipline Is there a characteristic style of writing? How are texts structured? How are arguments put together? What’s used as evidence? How is language used? E.g. Is the first person I used? How? Is there a typical terminology? (Craswell, 2005) (adapted from G.Craswell, 2005)

4 Identifying writing practices 1.Find a good example of the type of writing you have to do, such as an essay or report. Ask your lecturer or tutor for a good model, or for references to well-written articles or books. 2.Spend an hour each week reading with a focus on how the writer discusses the content, not what s/he says. 3.Select one aspect to focus on: the language, style, structure or treatment of information. (Craswell, 2005)

5 How do you feel about the process? When you think about doing a literature review what image or metaphor comes to mind? What best reflects your feelings or experience? (Kamler and Thomson, 2006)

6 Like a dinner party? You, the researcher, invite the scholars You choose the menu and cook the dinner As host, you make space for the guests to talk about their work but in relation to your work which lies on the table (abridged from B. Kamler and P. Thomson, 2006, p.38)

7 Getting started What do I know about my research topic? What I am looking for in the literature is ? What are the schools of thought in the literature? The great debates in my area are …? (Adapted from R. Murray, R., 2002, p.103)

8 Critical synopsis of a text Why am I reading this? What are the authors trying to do in writing this? What are they saying that is relevant to my needs? How convincing is it? What use can I make of this? (Wallace and Wray, 2006, pp.50-2)

9 Key tasks of literature review Outline the nature of the field or fields relevant to the research question Identify major debates and define contentious terms Establish which studies, ideas, and/or methods are most pertinent to the study Locate gaps in the field Create the justification for your research, and identify the contribution your study will make. (Kamler & Thomson, 2006)

10 Mapping the field: step one Use short outline of work Or u se recent papers, especially review articles, to get references to start.

11 Mapping the field: step 2 Group key works on the basis of their theoretical approach. Order by time. Indicate the links between them. Add to or change this as your knowledge of the field grows.

12 Finding your place in the field Where do you place your research in the field of relevant literature?

13 From the map to the review Structure your LR by: Chronology ‘classic’ studies Topic Distant to close relevance Look at LRs in your discipline - – ask your supervisor for references or search on the Library website: http://subjectguides.library.unsw.edu.au/content.php? pid=69088&sid=1991684 http://subjectguides.library.unsw.edu.au/content.php? pid=69088&sid=1991684

14 Typical moves in a LR See handout

15 Typical ‘moves’ in thesis introduction Move 1Move 1Establishing a research territory Move 2Move 2Establishing a niche (elaborated in LR) Move 3Move 3Occupying the niche (Swales & Feak, 1994)

16 Establishing the gap Example: Although considerable research has been carried out on the relationship between voting intentions and party affiliations, very little attention has been given to family political history.

17 Move 2: Establishing a niche by indicating a gap in the previous research, raising question about it or extending previous knowledge in some way by identifying a problem/need by counter-claiming by continuing a tradition (Swales & Feak, 1994)

18 Move 2 The language of ‘gap statements’ is typically evaluative in a negative way. Language which identifies weaknesses in the writing of others needs to be used with care. (Paltridge & Starfield, 2007, pp.87, 89)

19 Typical ‘gap’ words and phrases Verbs disregardedneglected to consider failed to consideroverestimated ignoredoverlooked been limited to suffered from misinterpretedunderestimated Adjectives controversialquestionableincompleteunconvincing inconclusiveunsatisfactory Noun phrases Little information/attention/work/data/research Few studies/investigation/researchers/attempts Non studies/data/calculations None of these studies/ findings/calculations Other forms However/while It remains unclear It would be of interest to (Paltridge & Starfield, 2007, p.88)

20 Contrastive or concessive expressions Despite + noun phrase or –ing form of verb Even though + noun + verb

21 Reporting verbs and phrases Neutral expressions: describe, show, discuss, report Verbs that indicate author’s thinking: propose, hypothesise, predict, conclude Verbs that indicate what author did: develop, examine, investigate, find, observe, study, analyse, use Check whether the verb is followed by that or by a noun

22 The language of criticism and of discussion sections – imprecise/speculative verbs Suggest (that) Imply (that Infer (that) Interpret Assume (that) Appear (that/to) Lead Seem to Support …. (that)

23 Linguistic strategies for seeking acceptance of claims StrategyFunctionEgs Hedgeswithhold writer’s full commitment to proposition might; perhaps; possible; about Attitude markers express writer's attitude towards a proposition Unfortunately; surprisingly

24 Hedges mainly largely substantially typically most/mostly probably to some extent more or less in part/partly approximately

25 Having a strong writer’s voice Writing about your writing (meta-discourse). Use of I Refer to your central argument throughout the thesis Topic sentences Theme/rheme: Generally, what you put in the theme (the first part) of a sentence is what gets most prominence. Citation pattern

26 Writer’s voice 1: topic sentence States the main point Develops the argument in an essay Is in the writer ’ s voice; (don ’ t include a quotation or begin with reference to another author). Is usually the first sentence

27 Citation pattern See handout

28 Writer’s voice 2: theme and rheme Theme: the words and phrases at the beginning of a clause. Rheme: everything thing else in the clause, including the verb. E.g. Wider reading develops understanding of a particular topic. Understanding of a particular topic develops with wider reading. (adapted from B. Kamler and P. Thomson, 2006)

29 Writer’s voice: texts Theme/rheme in the LR Mia’s LR

30 Communication of writer’s voice See handout

31 Model literature review See handout

32 What examiners look for: All key literature is included (no oversight) The focus of the LR is clear Not ‘everything I’ve ever read’ All sources are relevant Study located in context of previous research

33 References Craswell,G, 2005, Writing for Academic Success: A Postgraduate Guide, Sage, London. Dunleavy, P 2003, Authoring a PhD: how to plan, draft,write and finish a doctoral thesis or dissertation, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, Great Britain. Kamler, B & Thomson, P 2006, Helping doctoral students write: Pedagogies for supervision, Routledge, London, Murray, R. (2002) How to write a thesis. Open University Press, Maidenhead, Great Britain. Paltridge, B & Starfield, S, 2007, Thesis and dissertation writing in a second language, Routledge, London. Ridley, D, 2008, The Literature Review: A step-by-step guide for students, Sage, London.


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