To begin your explorations about what you have to do to construct your literature review, have a look at this resource by clicking here.
Following the letter uploaded as written by Jo Perry to students about ethics, a group of us have collaborated to produce to a very brief learning guide that can, we hope, help beginning scholars/researchers to zero in on the specifics of assembling specifically selected literature for examination and review. Assembling carefully targeted material is, after all, a necessary predicate to being able to critique those items of literature you've selected for perusal.
In this short guide, we have, in effect, introduced the idea of using (some) Boolean operators. We've done this by crafting simple directions for beginners so they might learn how to begin to focus their examination of relevant literature effectively instead of canvassing material blindly, widely and wildly. To access the three page learning guide we've developed, either click here or click on the heading above but do finish reading this first.
As a matter of interest, we've noticed over the years that many people seem to launch unthinkingly into the preparation of a literature review simply because they believe they have to! After all, nearly all journal articles, theses, books, and even reports which students and researchers examine seem to traverse literature. And if that's the case, then surely it follows that the novice researcher/writer should also tell everyone about the literature - right? Wrong actually.
What ought to happen is that a strategy should be developed for gathering relevant materials that relate to a focused or clearly defined topic. There really ought to be a point to a written commentary on literature and equally, there really should be a point to any research being undertaken. If there's an absence of focus, the novice is quite likely to splash about helplessly, gripped by strong currents of uncertainty.
You see, what happens (far too frequently) is that novices (and those who haven't really planned their strategies) dive enthusiastically into an expansive ocean of literature. They more often than not do so without thinking (first) about where they will leap. The result is that they drown in it all!
They end up with so much material that they flail about pointlessly and tragically, they have practically no idea about what to do with their information overload. Certainly, they seem unable to determine which direction they should paddle towards in order to reach a considered conclusion! But they do not have to drown in a sea of mainly irrelevant and often worthless information. They can slip on a life-jacket and survive.
So here is that life-jacket. You can save yourself from drowning in readings if you simply remember that all literature reviews really must have a very specific and clearly determined purpose. Put another way - anyone about to craft a literature review (complete with critique) should be able to answer this question:
What is it that you (the writer of the literature review) want your reader to understand as a result of having read your work; what is it that you want to tell them and what do you positively, totally and absolutely need them to understand?
It's really as easy as that. Put another way:
Working out the core purpose, the central intention, the absolute reason of the literature review together with the message/s you absolutely want to convey to your reader is an important first step for ensuring you keep afloat in a vast sea of words, bewildering ideas and arguments. You need to work out these things because if you don't, the material you work with will provide you, the novice, with multiple opportunities to become terribly confused and sadly despondent. By contrast, if you do take the time to work out your core mission and message, we're very certain that you'll be able to set out confidently, swimming in any direction you wish, in order to surf your chosen knowledge wave.
Enough of these metaphors!
The point that we want to stress is that in order to work out what you want your literature review to convey to your readers, you will first need to have worked out what it is that your research is intended to be about. Put very simply, this means that if you work out what your research is about, you'll more easily be able to determine the focus of your literature searches, reviews and critique. (Reviews and critiques are different, by the way, but they do overlap!) At the same time, we're quite sure that if you do complete your work with literature thoroughly, critically and engagingly, you'll clarify your research goals far beyond those aims you thought of at the outset of your endeavours.
We need to tell you that what we've prepared is exploratory at this stage - it's a work in progress - another letter to beginning students and novice researchers through which we try to guide them towards focusing their literature scavenging and processing more pointedly. Because it's a work in progress, an evolving word-canvas, we welcome your feedback. So keep your comments coming in folks.
We also suggest also that you have a look at the materials produced some years ago by Drs Hansen and Smith (see Scholarship Resources in the Free Resources box or click here to go to that resource as a PDF with slides and notes or here to access the slides alone as a PDF ). More than 20,000 individual hits have been made to that resource alone so there's got to be something good going on!
Focus well with happy reading and insightful thinking.
Dr Jens J. Hansen,
Anna Jo Perry
In early October, I enjoyed the privilege and honour of being the inaugural key-note speaker at the inaugural National Hui of the Community Houses of Aotearoa New
Interestingly, some of the essence of just what a community house might be was traversed at a panel discussion during the morning session. At the time I summarised the threads of the very wide ranging discussion by seeking to extract the very kernel of what the panellists were saying and after having shared it with the conference attendees, I promised I’d put it onto this website. Accordingly, I've reproduced that summary here and I have to say that despite revision, I'm not yet sure that I've done justice to what the contributors had to say. However, I think that what the panel said has substantial value so all I've tried to do is to capture, condense and concentrate their collective messages - with integrity! Fundamentally, it seemed to me the people on the panel proposed that...
Community Houses are diversely responsive not-for-profit agencies which variously deliver three key dimensions of service to their communities of interest:
Importantly, Community Houses seek to ensure that the developmental futures of the numerous communities of practice with which they are connected are assured. Community houses seek to enable individuals and groups to flourish with independence and integrity. These groups and individuals must be allowed to do so at their pace and in their own time. They must be able to prosper not only in places and spaces governed by community house members, but equally, they must be helped to operate within spaces which are more familiar to client settings. This means that the remit of those working from community houses ideally extends beyond the walls of the house into all of the community.
I especially enjoyed what the panel had to say because, in many ways, it blends well with the ideas about Etienne Wenger's communities of practice I introduced during my presentation. So if you have a closer look at the final slides of the powerpoint show that follows, you'll see some congruences between the two sessions.
When I prepared the key-note, I created a power-point show within which were displayed a number of hyperlinks. These hyperlinks were internal links to WebPages which I'd saved to the hard drive on my laptop. (I'd done that in case there'd been no capacity to hook up to the Internet.) In the spirit of enabling, which is another hallmark of community houses, I've uploaded the slideshow onto this site. But because the hyperlinks which were embedded within the slides have been removed, the slides don't link to anything external. If you want to have a look at what was produced, though, click here. And as always, feedback is very welcome.
Dr. Jens J. Hansen,
Dr. Richard J. M. Smith, Senior Lecturer in Education,
Adequate government research and development funding within the tertiary sector may seem to be an oxymoron. In part, research funding is elusive and scarce because government coffers do not unfurl largess. Hence entrepreneurial tertiary leaders necessarily explore alternative funding sources. They increasingly seek support from benevolent agencies (trusts, endowments, Iwi Authorities, etc.). They unhesitatingly broker partnerships with industry and/or the not-for-profit sector and/or with government departments. And sometimes, triadic arrangements between government, industry and consortia of tertiary agencies are formed to capture mighty research dollars! This presentation explores the catch-22 nature of the contemporary tertiary research funding pursuits across two tertiary institutions. The imperatives of staff being research active, increasing layers of managerial costs, bourgeoning demands on staff time and a comparative absence of comprehensive research skills by academics, are issues with which tertiary leaders need to grapple. We tentatively conclude that ways in which research funds are currently pursued and priced disadvantages tertiary institutions by inflating costs whilst undermining potential for quality scholarship. In-depth scholarly research seems to have become replaced by quick-fix solutions or alternatively, projects become farmed out to commercial agencies who can do it cheaper but, we venture, not necessarily better. We, therefore, propose some possible strategies for consideration. There is a slide show that can be accessed by clicking here but please note that because the augmentative AVs are not embedded, they are unlikely to activate.