Monday, 22 February 2010

The Literature Review

The literature is an important part of learning about your research topic.
Up to now you have had lots of advice on the above. There was Paula Nottingham’s talk at Campus Session 1 on 16th Feb. Her presentation is available from her blog and gives lots of advice on how to find the literature from the resources in Middlesex.
The Middlesex library subject guides list is extensive and you may find yourself consulting more than one of the 43 subject guides. For instance if you are in the discipline of Dance Performance, then clearly you will need to consult the Dance subject guide. However if you wanted to explore setting up a dance school then you would want to consult the Business and Management subject guide as well. Or if you wanted to explore the teaching of dance then you would need to consult the Education guide. Have a look at the list of subject guides from this link and see which you may need to look at. Looking at the list may also help you to think laterally about topics for your research project.
Secondly there is a link to Internet Detective which is an online tutorial to guide you into accessing quality materials on the Web. Thirdly, there is the video clip from Alan Durrant on this blog earlier today.
When you actually find the literature the following points might prove helpful.
1. Skim read by checking the index (if it’s a book), the table of contents, headings and subheadings throughout the piece. The introduction and conclusion would also be helpful to read and then focus in on the heart of the piece.
2. Take notes as you skim read to aid your understanding. Later you can come back to these notes and decide what the article is really about.
3. Read and quickly come to the point where you can you can sum up the kernel of the piece in one sentence – this takes practice.
4. Note the bibliographic citation (Author, Title, Where Published, Date of Publication). Check this following link to guidance on referencing,
5. Decide what contribution it’s making to your topic. What angle is it taking?
6. Then you need to construct a narrative about the literature – check this link from the University of Toronto on how to approach a Literature Review
I heard a former colleague of mine at Queen’s University Belfast (Caitlin Donnelly) describe the literature review very well. She suggested thinking of it as having authors around for a dinner party and in the discussion (about your topic) they each offered an opinion or threw some light upon it. Some were in agreement but others were not. When the dinner party is over you recount the discussion for a friend and that account is the basis for your written literature review.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for all the information you've posted, they've all been very clear and useful and helped with trying to get my head around this new module. Thanks Lucy