Showing posts with label literature review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label literature review. Show all posts

Monday, 16 February 2015

The Discourse of Literature Reviews and Critical Evaluation

A Traditional Card Catalogue


Critical evaluations and literature reviews employ an academic discourse. I've started to compose a list of the most frequently used words and phrases :

Accentuated differences
Acclaimed authors
According to
Account
Acknowledge the issue
Addresses
Addresses the contradictions
Adequate
Adopts
Advances the idea
Almost all
Analyses
Arbitrary categories
Argues
Argument
Assesses
Attempts to challenge
Bogged down
Bold
Breaks new ground
Brief discussion
Brings together
By ignoring this
Care with which
Centres on
Certain types of
Challenges
Charts
Cited
Combines analyses of
Comments on
Compelling argument
Comprehensive
Conceptual framework
Concise
Confesses
Confides
Connects
Considered
Contains
Contradictions
Contributors


Trinity Library Dublin

Conveys the sense
Convincing
Covers a range of topics
Critics
Debates about
Dense literature
Describes the trends
Detailed
Disadvantages
Disciplines
Discusses
Discrepancy
Discuss
Dispute
Disputing
Drawbacks
Embrace
Emphasis on the
Engagement with
Enjoying a renaissance
Even handed
Evokes
Exaggerated
Examines
Excellent
Explains
Exploring
Exposes
Fascinating
Features
Focus
Frequently
From that perspective
Fulcrum topics
Fully revised
Generally
Grateful
Ground-breaking
Guides
Imaginative
Impressive
In this field
Inadequate
Inaugurated the field
Incisive
Includes
Influence
Innovative
Interdisciplinary team
Interrogates
Interesting
Interface of ... and
It is believed that
It is thought that
It is a widely held view that
It has been reported that
It has commonly been assumed that
Joined by several new scholars
Judicious use of
Last word on this ... must go to
Limitations
Long quotations
Lucid
Make sense of the contradictions
Many scholars hold the view that …
Many types of
Minor errors
Most
Muddles
Multifaceted
Nearly always
New ground
Offers
Offers guidance
Often
Old ground
Opines that
Original
Occasionally
Overlooks
Overview
Paradoxically

Bodleian Library Classics

Partially answered
Perspective
Persuasive
Pertinent voice
Precision
Presents
Project is driven by
Prose
Provides an overview
Purpose
Questions
Quality of
Range of alternatives
Readers lose patience
Recent research has suggested that
Recognisable concerns
Reflecting on
Relationship between
Relevant
Relies heavily on
Revealing
Riddled with misprints
Rigid
Rooted in her knowledge of
Sadly
Scholars
Serve as a warning
Several Scholars
Short quotations
Shows how / that
Significant
Some types of
Sometimes
Speaks to
Style
Subject
Subtext
Supple
Tellingly
The majority of
There is some evidence to indicate that
This book
This comment
This concern with
This contribution to the debate
This exploration of
This issue
This study
This volume
Thorough
Through a series of case studies
Traces
Timely
To be commended
Trifling particulars
Undoubtedly the standard work on this
Uniquely
Updated edition
Use of long quotation
Useful
Uses
Valuable insights
Various disciplines
Vast range of topics
Vital to consider
Weaknesses
Wide-range of
Wide-ranging

 Dr Ian McCormick is the author of
The Art of Connection: the Social Life of Sentences and 11+ English  

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

A Quick Guide to Writing an Abstract

But will your abstract fit inside the box?

If you have been reading my blog on The Art of the Abstract, are you now ready for the quick guide?

FORMAT

Use one paragraph.
Stick to the word length.
Check the format style guides for the journal or awarding body / institution.
Employ a professional style

STYLE

Use language that will be understood by readers in your field.
Consider also the needs of the general reader.
Think about the most relevant key words that need emphasis
Write short sentences. Very short.
Employ transitions between the sentences.
Use the active voice, rather than passive constructions
Use the third person singular. IT.
Choose the past tense in the main body.
Check your grammar
Avoid abbreviations.
Provide clear statements: avoid loose opinions.
Employ the present tense for the introduction and the conclusion.

PROCESS

Learn from other respected scholars in your chosen field.
Read journal abstracts in order to become familiar with the standard terminology.
Print out your draft abstract and check it again for errors, waffle and repetition.
Ask a colleague or associate to check your work.
Model your work on excellent examples of abstracts.

CONTENT

Employ an introductory statement and conclusion written in the present tense. (This research demonstrates that ...)
Answer the key questions: what, why, and how.
Follow your headings and subheadings in order to guide the sequence of  the abstract.
Don’t add supplementary information or ideas.
Do not cite the sections of the paper / article / chapter.
Avoid specific references to figures and tables included in your paper.
Avoid the repetition of information.
Check for accuracy of content.


Anything I've missed? Please add comments below.


Dr Ian McCormick is the author of The Art of Connection: the Social Life of Sentences
(2013) Also available on Kindle, or to download.

Also worth a look: The PhD Roadmap: A Guide to Successful Submission of your Dissertation / Thesis.

Monday, 18 November 2013

The Art of the Abstract

 
' Supervisor, I found Yorick's Abstract. '


Do you hear, let them be well used, for they are the abstract and brief chronicles of the time. After your death you were better have a bad epitaph than their ill report while you live.” --- Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Nowadays there is more pressure than ever to publish often and early. Such is the plight of the doctoral student and the early career academic; such is the life of any career academic.

One of the tricks of the trade that every academic learns is how to write an effective abstract. Typically this activity was undertaken at the end of the third year of the Ph.D and was part of the processing of submitting your work for critical scrutiny.

But really we were abstracting all the way along. The ability to compose a quick summary of what you have been reading is the beginning of abstraction. It’s a useful habit to acquire early in one’s intellectual development.

What you find in the abstract will also be quite similar basically to the sorts of general questions that you will have been asked when seeking funding, or applying for a continuation of your research.

So when we are reading anything, we might want to be asking some questions.

What is this work about?
Why has it been written
What has been discovered?
How did the writer get there?

At first this can be quite bewildering because we are overwhelmed by the sheer plenitude and richness and depth of the writing. But God’s Gift to Scholars is the Abstract. This presents a ready-made solution to these probing questions. As I have pointed out in another post, How doAcademics Read so many Books? The abstract is the short cut for the overloaded, overworked, underpaid scholar-teacher. My intention was not to be cynical. In fact, more pragmatically, it is not possible to undertake wider reading and gain wider familiarity with a body of work without reading lots of abstracts. Abstracts help researchers to decide on what is most  and what is least relevant for their reading. While it may take three hours or more to comb through an academic paper, it will take less than ten minutes to skim and scan the contents. But I can survey the abstract in a matter of seconds.

Therefore, a well-written abstract allows readers to work out how relevant the research undertaken is to what they are trying to achieve. If it is highly relevant then there is a second virtue. The abstract becomes a useful reference point and benchmark for the longer and larger scholarship that follows.

If am I surveying the wider field, and therefore writing a literature review, the abstract is very helpful in providing a quick summary of the work that allows me to position it in relation to other work, either as a specialism, or a theme. The abstract tells me where the research belongs, as part of a cluster, and also, more significantly, provides a sense of its individuality or uniqueness. The sense singularity or originality of the contribution to knowledge is a valued aspect that the abstract must communicate effectively.

In this sense, abstract are useful signposts, they give me a sense of direction.

When I was writing my book The Art of Connection, I noted that one of the Nine Arts of Connection was the Art of the Summary. We are summarising all the time. Often this evident at the end of a paragraph or the end of an essay or speech. Summaries therefore have impact. In a very broad sense, we are already familiar with the art of the summary because we are doing it all the time in the process of reading and writing. Summaries are signposts and they help us to recall key points efficiently and effectively.

In the academic world the abstract is usually one paragraph consisting of about 200 to 300 words. It is situated just under the title of the paper or it appears at the end. It is very important to realise that this is not a supplementary introduction.

While the researcher may all along have had a vague idea of the summary of the work undertaken, the abstract is a precise and efficient of the published text.

The abstract offers a swift appraisal of the research. It is helpful to think in terms of the model that is generally followed. Typically there are four components:

1. An Introduction to the research

2. The Methods, or Methodology employed.

3. The Results of the research

4. The Conclusions reached.

It is useful to remember that the abstract should follow the key sections of your published research in sequence.

Specifically the abstract needs

  • To identify the main subject of the research and its purpose. This may point to the literature review element and provides a wider context for the work.

  • To outline the problem investigated and the approach taken. Explain your objectives and hypothesis precisely. Summarise your methodology.

  • To present your results. What was it that you found out?

  • To offer conclusions. This may involve policy implications.

These are the key words that the abstract-writer and researcher needs to think about clearly: problem, solution, example, evaluation/comparison.


It’s really worth spending a lot of time perfecting your abstract. 

Indeed it might be the only part of your work that most scholars in your field ever read. 

Perhaps it’s what you’ll be remembered by.
 
Dr Ian McCormick is the author of The Art of Connection: the Social Life of Sentences
(2013) Also available on Kindle, or to download.

Also worth a look: The PhD Roadmap: A Guide to Successful Submission of your Dissertation / Thesis.


Wisdom is the abstract of the past, but beauty is the promise of the future.

--- Oliver Wendell Holmes