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WRITING A

HIGH-QUALITY
LITERATURE
REVIEW

BY MR. MOHAMMED ZERIOUH


OBJECTIVES:
By the end of this class, we should be able to answer the
following questions:
What is a literature review?
What are the main stages of writing the literature
review?
How should I structure the literature review?
What are the parts of the literature review?
Why should I write the literature review?
Which reporting verbs shall I use in my literature
review?
We should also be able to evaluate a ready-made
literature review sample and write a high-quality one
beyond class.
1. WHAT IS A LITERATURE REVIEW?
The literature review is a critical analysis of a
segment of a published body of
knowledge through summary,
classification, and comparison of prior
research studies, reviews of literature,
and theoretical articles. (University of Wisconsin Writing
Centre)

A collection of the major scholarly writings on a topic


books, articles, monographs, dissertations,
government reports, websites.
A way of capturing snapshots (not too detailed)
The
size varies from one paragraph to about two
pages.
2. WHAT ARE THE MAIN STAGES OF WRITING THE
LITERATURE REVIEW?
Read extensively about your topic/ area of interest.
Collect relevant data /extract the main elements
that are directly relevant to your research.
Show relationships between sources.
Narrow! Narrow! Narrow!
Find models of literature reviews by other writers
From time to time, seek guidance from your
supervisor
Elaborate systematically on the achievements and
limitations of other studies
Find what is common between the sources
Find a gap (a niche) to fill
3. HOW SHOULD I STRUCTURE THE LITERATURE REVIEW?

There are questions to ask here:


What are the seminal works on my topic? Do I
need to mention these?
What progress has been made since these
seminal works?
What are the most relevant recent works? What
is the best order to mention these works?
What gap do these limitations reveal?
How does my work intend to fill this gap?
4. WHAT ARE THE PARTS OF THE LITERATURE REVIEW?

Introduction
- Lay the general topic/ issue.
Refer to the trends in the published research in the

area
Explain your stance and organizational structure.
Body
Group the sources in a way that is

Chronological ,
By publication,
Methodological,
Thematic, or
By Trends
Conclusion
Summarize the major parts of significant
studies in
relation to your topic.
Evaluate the current thinking on your topic.
Conclude by providing insight into
relationship
between the topic and the focus of your
area of
interest/ position.
5. WHY SHOULD I WRITE THE LITERATURE REVIEW?
To lay a strong background for your thesis
To improve understanding for your topic
To demonstrate knowledge. Expertise of your
field of research
To give a value to your research
To do a favour to your readers by bringing them
up to date.
TASK 1:

In groups, read the following literature

review and comment on it in the light of the

features you have just learned. Say which

constituents the writer excelled at and

which ones he failed in.


Persistence has most often been studied in terms of cultural differences. Blinco

(1992) found that Japanese elementary school children showed greater task

persistence than their American counterparts. School type and gender were not

factors in moderating task persistence. This left culture as the remaining variable.

Heine et al. (2001) furthered this idea by testing older American and Japanese

subjects on responses after success or failure on task persistence. Japanese subjects

were once again found to persist longer (in post-failure conditions), and this was

speculated to be because they were more likely to view themselves as the cause of the

problem. If they were the cause of the problem, they could also solve the problem

themselves; although, this could only be accomplished through work and persistence.

Americans were more likely to believe that outside factors were the cause of

failure. These cultural studies hinted that task persistence may be predictable based

on attribution style. A later experiment showed that attribution style and

perfectionism level can be correlated with final grades in college-level classes

(Blankstein & Winkworth, 2004).


(Retrieved from: The Effects of Feedback and Attribution Style on Task Persistence)
TASK2:

If you were to rewrite this literature

review, what elements would you keep

and what elements would you

modify/add? Why?
6. Which reporting verbs shall I use while writing
my literature review ?
Avoid overusing states and says!
You can use tentative reporting verbs to show that
the study is incomplete or difficult to overgeneralise
from: suggest that indicate imply postulate,
tends to appears to would seem to , etc
You can use strong/evaluative reporting verbs to
evaluate the sources and take a position: concede
contend assert dispute claim purport
persuade refute concur recommend object
dismiss contradict etc
MEMORY PRACTICE:
IN GROUPS, REREAD THESE QUESTIONS AGAIN AND WRITE THE
ANSWERS YOU RECALL.
IF YOU HAVE OTHER ANSWERS WE DID NOT MENTION, WRITE THEM.

What is a literature review?


What are the main stages of writing the
literature review?
How should I structure the literature
review?
What are the parts of the literature review?
Why should I write the literature review?
Which reporting verbs shall I use in my
literature review?
In groups, think of other questions we
did not ask in this class about the review
of the literature.
In groups, try to answer these questions.

Reflection and open discussion


The tenses to use in the review of the Literature:

Present simple for established facts and common


knowledge

Present perfect at the beginning of the review to


give a general overview for past-to-present
evolutions)

Past simple when the specific date of the study is


important or when specific dates are included in
the sentence.