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Logical structures of academic discourse: from outline to literature review John Morgan.

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1 Logical structures of academic discourse: from outline to literature review John Morgan

2 Introduction – We can generalise about the structure e.g. background info main issue aims and/or structure (cf. Swales, 1990)

3 Literature review This varies quite a lot according to what you need to say to ground your own research. A good resource is Hart (1998, start at page 27).

4 Method Method and results are the most difficult thing to generalise about as they are tied to specific methods that may be determined by an assignment question or may be negotiated with a supervisor.

5 Results These are dependent on methods, but results are often integrated within the method in Arts subjects, which appear more as a method of critical analysis.

6 Discussion It is possible to identify patterns that may commonly appear, e.g. background, results, outcome, reference to previous research, explanation, exemplification, deduction and hypothesis, recommendations (cf. Swales, 1990, Dudley-Evans, 1989).

7 Conclusion Again we can generalise, e.g. context of discussion, procedure, solutions, recommendations (my own analysis).

8 Variations on the theme As soon as we begin to look at predictable structures, we immediately notice the variations that are possible. A quick example is that in Biological Sciences, the introduction and literature review are usually combined within a single chapter or section.

9 Think of some of your own assignments How will you need to vary the recommendations? It may be safe to follow recommendations for the introduction and the conclusion, but you will need to individualise the body of the writing to the research issue you are addressing. The literature review must contextualise the method that you will follow. What method do you expect to use in your current assignment?

10 According to Hart…, a-c …a literature review works towards: a)distinguishing what has been done from what needs to be done b)discovering important variables relevant to the topic c)synthesizing and gaining a new perspective

11 Hart, d-h d)identifying relationships between ideas and practice e)establishing the context of the topic or problem f)rationalizing the significance of the problem g)enhancing and acquiring the subject vocabulary h)understanding the structure of the subject

12 Hart, i-k i)relating ideas and theories to applications j)identifying the main methodologies and research techniques that have been used k)placing the research in a historical context to show familiarity with state of the art developments Hart (1998: 27)

13 Focusing your reading Look at the reference sources you need to work with for your assignment.

14 Reasons for choice Why have you chosen them? – Is it because it looks like the right subject? If so, what tells you that it has the right focus? – Is it because of particular issues discussed in the work? – Is it because they are required reading?

15 Focus What is the focus on the main issue or problem in each of those works? The following questions compare directly with Swales’ analysis of the focus of arguments identified through research article introductions.

16 Compare with Swales (1990) – Does it create a counter argument? – Does it indicate gaps in research or argument? – Does it ask general questions and create a rounded discussion? – Does it follow particular research methods?

17 Return to focus Even though it is important to establish a singular focus within a paper, it may be possible to see an interweaving of these points. To what extent is that apparent in the works you have chosen?

18 How are the issues argued? – Strongly – Moderately – Tentatively

19 Use of language Think about use of: – reporting verbs (e.g. argued, criticised) – adjectives (e.g. thorough investigation, limited value) – adverbs (e.g. obviously, necessarily) – modal verbs (e.g. might, may, could, must)

20 Other questions Who does each author cite in her/his work? Do these citations stand out as being significant?

21 More questions What value can you see in engaging with this argument in your own essay? How does it address the issue and aims (your own focus) of your own essay?

22 Bibliography Dudley-Evans, T. (1989). “Genre Analysis: An Investigation of the Introduction and Discussion Sections of MSc Dissertations.” In Coulthard, M. (Ed.). Talking about Text, English Language Research, University of Birmingham. In Bhatia, V.K. (1993). Hart, C. (1998). Doing a Literature Review: Releasing the Social Science Research Imagination. London: Sage Publications. Swales, J. (1990). Genre Analysis: English in Academic and Research Settings. Cambridge: CUP.

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