working with literature enhancing postgraduate environments epe

Working with Literature

Literature reviews tend to be one of the toughest parts of thesis writing, and research. This is in part because the volume of reading is large at MA and PhD level, and usually involves connecting two or more bodies of literature. Keeping track of all of the reading, and being selective and strategic, is a challenge. In part, this is also because students may struggle to move from summarising and synthesising the reading, to using the reading to make an argument in relation to their own study’s focus. This Prezi provides an overview of what a postgraduate literature review should aim to be, and focused advice on how to read, and write, strategically to shape a strong, relevant contextual framework for a PhD or MA study. There is also a worksheet users can download to guide focused writing about their own contextual framework, or ‘literature review’ sections.

Developed by Sherran Clarence, Independent higher education consultant. Special thanks to Kenny Chiwarawara for the narration.

Explore these additional resources

Additional reading:

Questions for users:

  • For supervisors/PG support staff: Think about the literatures your students are working with: how could or should these be connected? Can you assist your students with ‘framing’ their field, through talking through the bigger picture of the research? How can you then guide them in connect their literatures together to create a context for their study, that relates to the bigger picture?
  • For students: Start with the worksheet; it is designed to helped you articulate for yourself what bodies of literature you are reading, why, and what the connections are (so far) between them. From here, you can hopefully then begin to write this section (if you are starting out), or revise this section if you already have a draft. The additional reading recommended above will provide further guidance and explanation.

Who might find this useful?

This material is primarily for postgraduate students, although the video and worksheet could be used in workshops run by postgraduate and/or writing support practitioners, to assist students with unpacking, articulating the structure of, and writing their literature review or contextual sections.