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Planning and Writing a Literature Review Stephen Potter.

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Presentation on theme: "Planning and Writing a Literature Review Stephen Potter."— Presentation transcript:

1 Planning and Writing a Literature Review Stephen Potter

2 Session Aims To Explore the Purposes of a ‘Literature’ Review To Identify Sources to be used in a review Ensuring Internet searching is done well To look at ways of Structuring your Review Based upon Ch7 of Doing Postgraduate Research These slides are on the Workshops’ website linked from VRE at

3 Purposes of a Literature Review –You know about subject –You can review your area critically –You have used existing knowledge to focus your research question –You have used existing knowledge to chose your research method/approach –You have something to compare with you own results Look at Woodley review –What purposes does this fulfil? –Other impressions.

4 Sources Journals Conference Papers and Proceedings Books Practitioner documents & reports Other students’ dissertations and theses Government documents Dictionaries Statistics and market data Newspapers, TV and Radio Webites Visual materials –Plans –Designs Grey literature: –Company reports Trade literature Unpublished research documents Exhibitions and performances See DPGR Ch 7.3

5 Internet Searching Use the internet properly - Library provides advice Check Sources: –Use to identify primary source –5 Ws: who, why, where, what and when? –Is the author (or their institution) known and respected in this field? –Is reference made to other work in this field and in a proper way? –Does the information seem reasonably objective? Is there an underlying marketing or propaganda motive? –How current is the information? Is it properly dated? –Rather than a general web search, look for related links from websites or blogs you already trust

6 Further advice –Library (and MRes course) will advise –BBC website has useful Webwise site on reliability. This is at: (accessed ) –There is also the OU safe computing website for more general issues at: (accessed )

7 People and Networks DPGR Ch 7.5 Authors Practitioners Journalists Media Researchers ‘Stakeholders’ Contacting People –Conferences –Interviewing –Run a Workshop –Give a Seminar –Start a blog/tweets or join a discussion list –Other ideas??

8 Activity Make a list of the people and organisations who might be interested in the results of your research

9 Keeping Organised DPGR Ch 7.5 Vital – can be immense timewaster if not Fully record sources May use same source for different purposes Bibliographic packages available (Endnote etc) See DPGR Ch 7.5

10 Research Journal Endnote allows you to keep notes of references, but you also need to keep a record of how your research and thinking develops Make it reflective Key resource in writing up to explain rationale for research and your learning processes

11 Structure for a Review Often structured by your research process stages: –1: Project aims –2: General subject background (‘wide and thin’) –3: Focus on work in specific subject area – major part (subdivided by categories – ‘ deep and narrow’ or ‘drilling down’ ) –4: Key issues identified from the literature that needs researching –You may split this up in your thesis (e.g. by stages in your project (policy review, practice review, theory review) or a detailed methodology review may be in methods chapter)

12 Review Structure Structuring more focussed section can take a number of approaches: (a) Chronological –1 Early history –2 1960s and 1970s –3 Recent developments (b) Sequential stages –1 Market research –2 Market planning –3 Market decisions (c) Ways of understanding –1 Networks –2 Movements –3 Practice –4 Organisations Woodley’s review is chronological but structured by emerging understanding – a mix of (a) and (c).

13 Create a ‘storyboard’ Treat you literature review like a Powerpoint presentation Make up 15 slides that structure what you need to say Alternatively draw a diagram with bubbles containing the main points and then work out a sequence from that

14 Writing Style What makes an article/chapter hard to read? Create a flow or ‘storyline’ (sequence) Provide ‘signposts’ “Pulling together” summary points where your writing takes any new direction. Say ‘this is what I have discovered, the implications are these and so we need to explore this, this and this to develop our understanding further’. A good structure should set you up for a good writing style Try doing a mini-review ASAP (e.g. a position or discussion paper on an aspect of your research)

15 And Finally….. Start structuring some sort of review paper ASAP Don’t just list literature – learn to tell a story with it Be clear about why you are reviewing literature –and keep that in focus Think about your reader ….particularly if they will be your examiner!! Nov 5 th - Fireworks? Nov 12 th Research Design and Focus


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