Literature Review simple overview

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On literature reviews (and more generally writing papers).

Lately, I've seen more and more people offering advice on how to write specific forms of literature reviews.

However, few of those advice-givers succinctly describe the process for actually writing the review.

@Richard West (

) provides a nice concise summary of the steps. They really apply to writing in general.

Except for the step of sending it to Rick :)

Here I add a little more wraparound around the infographic based on my experience as an author.

1. Problematization: The 2 to 3 pages of problematization are a distinct, iterative, step. It may take doing such a statement a few times before moving forward to writing the actual paper.

2. Search: Write down your keyword sets, your updated keyword sets, and databases. It is perfectly within a reviewer's rights to ask for these details.

3. Summary: Really getting to know major themes requires some annotation of articles. You want to identify core papers and themes and write about them. This helps you really learn the material.

ChatGPT or Wikipedia are no substitute for deep engagement with a paper.

4. Argument: Either outline or create a slide deck that help you express the arguments in your paper. Read them out loud. Have friends look at them. Present them.

Every literature review has an argument. If not, it's a summary. A summary does not merit publication in a top outlet.

5. Unpacking: Once you've nailed the short pitch, unpack the full argument.

a)Take time in each major section to map out a) the argument, b) the supporting evidence, and the takeaway.

b) Take those major sections, reconcile them, make sure they don't overlap, then move on to writing.

c) Sketch out the paper's sections, tables, figures, and appendices.

6. Writing: Writing is the easy part. You can always put words to the screen.

Revising and improving is hard. Make time to write every day.

Improving requires feedback. Find a writing partner to give feedback.

Create your tables and figures. Write to them. Make sure the words in the paper align to the visuals.

7. Communicate: When the paper is done, go back and create a paper presentation.

I do this for the papers that I'm most serious about.

The act of storyboarding helps me sort out the small pieces of the story that don't fit together.

If I really want it to succeed, I present it.

The act of presenting helps me get it right. My best papers sometimes take seven or eight presentations to get it right.

Then I return to the paper and fine tune it.

Only then, does it have a shot at a top outlet.

Best of luck.

  • note I am reposting my top ten posts of 2023. This one had 108,000+ views.

image

On literature reviews (and more generally writing papers).

Lately, I've seen more and more people offering advice on how to write specific forms of literature reviews.

However, few of those advice-givers succinctly describe the process for actually writing the review.

@Richard West (

) provides a nice concise summary of the steps. They really apply to writing in general.

Except for the step of sending it to Rick :)