James's thinking space

avoiding the laundry list literature review

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For anyone doing, drafting or redrafting a literature review, this is an excellent post that will help claify what a literature review is supposed to do.

patter

I’ve been asked to say more about the laundry list literature review.The laundry list is often called ‘He said, she said” – as one of the most usual forms of the laundry list is when most sentences start with a name. And the laundry list is a problem. It’s hard to read and not very fit for purpose.

So, what does a laundry list look like? Below is a page of a published book. It is taken from a chapter reviewing the literatures on neoliberalism in ‘the university’. It’s a laundry list. I have:

  • underlined in red the sentence where the author says what they are trying to do (you might call this a topic sentence)
  • circled the sentences that feature a scholar as the subject of the sentence.


Now let’s see what’s going on in the writing. The second paragraph on the first page begins with the author’s intention…

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