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Writing a literature review
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T1 - Writing a literature review
AU - Flynn, Catherine
AU - Ross, Bella
PY - 2021/2/26
Y1 - 2021/2/26
N2 - This book will equip Social Work students with the knowledge, skills and confidence to produce first-rate written assignments. Part One focuses on the foundational skills needed to produce excellent written work. Students are taken through the core stages of working on an assignment, from planning the task and reading and note-making through to finding and evaluating sources, drafting a text, and editing and proofreading. Part Two hones in on the key types of assignment students will encounter on their degree. It contains dedicated chapters on writing an essay, a reflective text, a case study analysis, a literature review, a placement report, and case notes on placement. Each chapter contains examples and activities which will help students to test their knowledge and understanding.This is an essential companion for all Social Work students.
AB - This book will equip Social Work students with the knowledge, skills and confidence to produce first-rate written assignments. Part One focuses on the foundational skills needed to produce excellent written work. Students are taken through the core stages of working on an assignment, from planning the task and reading and note-making through to finding and evaluating sources, drafting a text, and editing and proofreading. Part Two hones in on the key types of assignment students will encounter on their degree. It contains dedicated chapters on writing an essay, a reflective text, a case study analysis, a literature review, a placement report, and case notes on placement. Each chapter contains examples and activities which will help students to test their knowledge and understanding.This is an essential companion for all Social Work students.
UR - https://www.macmillanihe.com/page/detail/Writing-Skills-for-Social-Work-Students/?K=9781352012224
M3 - Chapter (Book)
SN - 9781352012224
T3 - Macmillan Study Skills
BT - Writing Skills for Social Work Students
A2 - Ross, Bella
PB - Red Globe Press
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The language of literature reviews
Expression in a literature review should be informative and evaluative. Apart from incorporating reporting verbs, you will need to use evaluative and cautious language.
A key language feature of a literature review is the use of reporting verbs . These types of verbs describe and report on the literature under review. They report on:
- aims : investigates , examines , looks at
- results : shows , suggests , reveals
- opinions : states , believes , argues
The choice of reporting verb(s) indicates your perspectives and attitudes towards the research under review. That is the reporting verbs chosen show whether you are neutral, negative or positive about the research.
The sentence pattern of placing reporting verbs is: [reporting verb] + either/both [object] / [complement].
Evaluative and cautious language
You can show your perspective on the literature under review by using evaluative language . Evaluative language can indicate whether you’re positive or negative towards the claims in the literature, whether you agree or disagree with the claims presented.
Cautious language is careful not to express absolute certainty where there may be the possibility of uncertainty.
Evaluative language can be:
- positive : e.g. expressions like “effective,” “necessary,” “significant” or “crucial”
- negative : e.g. “questionable,” unclear,” “inconclusive” or insignificant.
Positive evaluation : Wright’s (2022) argument about the link between parental numeracy and that of their children is conclusively borne out in the interviews.
Negative evaluation : Whether the statistical results support Torney and Wittings’ (2021) hypothesis is debatable.
Another way to express certainty or hesitancy is to use boosters and hedges .
- boosters are words or phrases that express confidence or certainty
- hedges convey a qualified uncertainty in the claims made in the literature.
Click on the tabs below to view examples of evaluative language, boosters and hedges.
Source: Bailey, Stephen. (2015). The Essentials of Academic Writing for International Students . Taylor & Francis Group; UK. p. 123.
Let’s consider an example of reporting verbs. The two reporting verbs in this sentence describe and report on the literature under review. The tone is both academic and neutral.
The author concludes that no reasonable alternative is currently available to replace constitutional democracy, even though he does not completely reject the possibility of creating a better political system in the future.
Bailey, Stephen. (2015). The Essentials of Academic Writing for International Students . Taylor & Francis Group; UK. p. 123.
Boosters and hedges
Check your understanding view.
Bailey, Stephen. (2015). The Essentials of Academic Writing for International Students. Taylor & Francis Group.
Bloomberg, L.D . & Volpe, M. (2012). Completing your qualitative dissertation: A road map from beginning to end (2nd ed.). Sage Publications.
Efron, S.E. & Ruth, R. (2018). Writing the Literature Review: A Practical Guide . Guilford Publications.
Kamler, B. & Thomson, P. (2006). Helping Doctoral Students Write. Pedagogies for Supervision . Routledge.
Rudestam, K. E., & Newton, R. R. (1992). Surviving your dissertation: A comprehensive guide to content and process . Sage Publications.
Taking it further
Manage complex tasks.
This resource will outline strategies that will assist with the management of complex tasks such as: breaking down the task, tracking progress and managing competing commitments.
Writing clearly involves creating coherent and precise sentences and paragraphs. In academic writing it's important that sentences include accurate and meaningful vocabulary and signposts; and that paragraphs have defined structural features.
Find, express and maintain your writing voice
Your 'voice' in academic writing is the means by which you show control of the topic and drive the argument or evidence you are presenting. It should be distinct from the expert voices in the published sources you found in the research process.
Citing and referencing
Monash expects high standards of academic honesty. Learn how to cite and reference correctly, and why it matters.
Paraphrase, summarise and quote well
Paraphrasing, summarising and quoting are essential academic skills to integrate information from various sources to support your arguments and claims. There are multiple strategies and conventions to apply these skills accurately and ethically.
What is critical thinking?
Learn what critical thinking is, what it looks like and how you can demonstrate it.
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- Subject guides
- Systematic Review
Systematic Review: Home
- Getting started
- Manuals, documentation & PRISMA
- Develop question & key concepts
- Look for existing reviews
- Scoping searches & gold set
- Identify search terms
- Select databases & grey literature sources
- Develop criteria & protocol
- Run your search
- Limits & filters
- Review & test your search
- Save & manage your search results
- Database search translation
- Screening process steps
- Assess quality of your included studies
- Request a consultation
About systematic reviews
A systematic review is a type of literature review that demonstrates your awareness of existing primary research in your field. It is sometimes referred to as secondary research as it is research conducted on research.
Using this guide
Our guide is designed to help you:
- Understand the purpose of systematic reviews
- Follow a clear process to create your systematic review
- Adhere to relevant standards, guidelines or manuals
- Search for existing reviews
- Develop a research question and key concepts
- Select databases and grey literature sources
Get help from a librarian when you need support beyond what you can find in this guide. Bookings are available for students, educators, and researchers.
For a 1:1 consultation for a systematic review that you are undertaking, see Request a consultation .
Other useful resources
- SR Toolbox - an online catalogue of guidance and tools that support various processes of systematic reviews or evidence syntheses. The toolbox is developed and maintained by York Health Economics Consortium, University of York.
- Next: Getting started >>