Landing : Athabascau University

Week 9: The Literature Review

I haven’t written a literature review since the first year of undergrad, where the focus was on literature pertaining to communism. That assignment was a lead up to a research paper on communism past and present. A very dry topic, that I did not pick, as my professor was partial to having students pull topics out of a hat. This assignment is slightly different because I get to pick a topic and there is no research project to write after.

Research and reference related questions are my favourite part of working in library science, but I always find it daunting to structure the information that I have found. The critical review has shown me that I struggle still with organizing my findings and my thoughts. A paper that lacks organization is confusing to the reader. I also learned from the critical review that I need to be better at summarizing because no one should spend 365 words on one thought without linking it properly. Tone and ensuring that I don’t write overly argumentative pieces is also important to work on.

A research essay makes an argument about a given topic and uses published sources to support its argument; in contrast, a literature review makes an argument about the sources themselves, considered critically as a group of scholarly publications that represents the state of knowledge on a topic. (From course assignment)

I think that the sentence above is going to be one of the most important things to remember when writing the literature review. When I wrote my critical review, I misunderstood the difference between a critical review and an argumentative piece. Going forward I need to learn from that mistake and fully understand that difference between a literature review and a research essay. The critical review also taught us how to have a critical eye and that will be important when looking at the ten sources of literature for the literature review.

We are week 9 of the course and I am doing my best to schedule in my reading, forum posts, comments, and my blog posts. I am still working on my grammar and on my writer identity! I find that the best way to learn in this course is to participate weekly and try to be active in the comments with other students. I certainly do not pretend to be a perfect student, but my aim when taking this course was not only to write and think at a graduate level, but also to feel comfortable with writing.

At the end of every week, I want to be able to say that I tried my very best and actively participated in my learning journey. Academic writing does not come easy to me, and I know that. I believe that good academic writers reflect and learn from their own mistakes.


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