Monday, February 2, 2009

the core of academic literature reviews: - or Learning to ride a bicycle

Academic reviews take this format: - also known as 'literature reviews'.
Read on ONE topic, pick one of the many your supervisor has given you and write a few pages.

Use this model:

Describe what Dr's XYZ say... about a topic,
then what Dr's ABC say about the same topic,
then: YOU give your analyisis in something like this:
XYZ have a good point about blah blah and blah, but they neglect the aspect of bleep bleep bleep.
Bleep bleep bleep is addressed by ABC in this and that way.
Looking at the whole topic is seems to me that one can say the following
booop blooop blooop.

Does this make sense ?

There is a descriptive part1: Who says what about the topic. Just summarize, regurgitate, reference your sources !

Then comes the analysis part: That's YOUR part: compare, contrast, synthesize, find the overlap, the differences, the holes, give YOUR angle on things based on what was described. This second part is where you get to be CREATIVE, get to say what YOU THINK !

Do this for one topic, then move to the next topic of subtopic.

Help from friends/tutors/supervisors/...
Step1: Like a good wine, let your writing lie quietly in a dark subconscious underground chamber for a few days - figuratively and literally.
Step2: Read your own work and edit, correct. If you are really 'with it' this is the time to make a list of the top 3 or 4 mistakes you pick up in your own writing and improve yourself quickly - simple method outlined HERE.
Step3: Find someone else to read and review things for you ! That's really important. Ask friends, or even pay a senior student/tutor.

"Crank the Handle" approach:
Once you get the hang of it, you will find that research and academic stuff is as easy as riding a bicycle, you fall off and hurt yourself the first few times but in the end you are fine...

no big deal anymore ;-)

Good Luck !!!