Literature reviews for postgraduates

R18–0381 R19–0558 MEDN69910

Library for Educators
3 min readFeb 4, 2022

This workshop has only had the padlet link updated and passed QA last year as R18–0381

Group: up to 200 students

Room: flat room in a cabaret style

Discipline: any

Level: any

Materials: Slides, Cornell notes handout, Article, mentimeter quiz, padlet

Suggested online resources:

Learning outcomes:

· Recognize the purpose of literature review

· Active note-taking and documenting

· Create an annotated bibliography

Course Summary: In this workshop we will cover skills and strategies that will help you produce a literature review. As a vital part of your research, your literature review calls on a number of skills to complete successfully. In the next 90 minutes you will have an opportunity to identify what you need to have to complete a review and how you will set about it, as well as understand the purpose of a literature review.

Introduction: Introduce the workshop by referring to the summary and the outcomes and indicate how the students will participate with activities.

Activity: Using Menti ask the students the following to set the agenda.

  • How do they feel about writing a literature review?
  • What is the purpose of a literature review?
  • What skills do they need to write a literature review?

Looking at the results, signpost towards the online resources that are embedded within Blackboard for ongoing development. (6 mins)

Direct instruction: Referring to the quote on the slide below from Trisha Greenhalgh, author of How to read a Paper, outline the purpose of a literature review for the students.

Define the process for undertaking a literature review and highlight reading/notetaking/synthesizing as active areas for which learning strategies will be useful, similar to any piece of writing that students might have approached before. (6 mins)

Activity: In this activity the students will practice note taking the Cornell way followed by an analysis of the notes. The facilitator should introduce Cornell note taking handout indicating the three parts of the handout and what each section can be used for. Then, the students should spend some time reading and actively taking notes.

Ask the students to compare and contrast their notes with their neighbour. How did they know what to write? How did they capture their notes — words, pictures? During this activity the facilitator should circulate, asking questions and offering feedback to groups. (14 mins)

Direct instructions: A review requires the synthesis of information from multiple sources so to have notes that capture what we see as being connections to other literature can be powerful. Move notes towards the literature review itself by further elaborating the connections. Introduce the concept of dual coding notes to further elaborate what has already been noted down.

Activity: Ask the students to elaborate or translate what they have already written into a picture/diagram/timeline/process.

Activity: Finally, complete the Cornell notes sheet by summarising the author of the article’s main idea.

Reiterate that this provides all of the notes in one place that can easily be referred to. (11 Mins)

Direct instruction: A further strategy that can be employed to facilitate literature reviews is an annotated bibliography. Introduce the concept of an annotated bibliography and what it looks like. The annotated bibliography will provide an overview of all of the literature that has been read and will underpin the review and the research that occurs next.

Activity: Working in your pairs, submit an entry to the class annotated bibliography on the padlet already set up. Ensuring that the following is present in the entry. (16 Mins)

  • Bibliographic details
  • Critical appraisal of article
  • The author’s main idea
  • Rank it for relevance
  • How it connects to other literature

Wrap up by summarising the strategies covered and how they can help in writing a literature review. Signpost to the online resources outlined above and where they can be found in the VLE, and ask the SCONUL question using Menti. (4 mins)




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