Workshop and discussion exercises

Practice with these exercises to prepare for your seminars and wider research.

1. For a given research topic explore and compare the coverage of two or more of the following resources for finding academic literature on the subject:
(a) Your university library catalogue
(b) Wikipedia
(c) An Internet search engine such as Google Scholar

2. Examine a journal article reporting original social or cultural research on a topic that interests you. Consider answers to the following questions:
(a) To what extent is the literature review separated from the rest of the report?
(b) What connections are made between the analysis of data and the literature review?
(c) Many literature reviews have a funnel structure, with broad concerns being discussed at the outset, narrowing down to specific questions explored in the research study. Is this literature review like this? Identify sections where broad concerns are discussed and where specific research questions are identified.
(d) In the concluding section of the report, what references are made by the author to the concerns raised in the literature review?
(e) Try to find an important article or book on this subject that this researcher has failed to spot.

3. Find and consult a systematic review of randomised controlled trials:
(a) How explicit does it make its procedures?
(b) How do these differ from an article reporting a conventional (not ‘systematic’) review of literature?

4. Find a Wikipedia article on an academic topic on which you consider yourself to be well informed. Perhaps you have recently written an essay or article about the subject. How does the article compare with your existing knowledge? Are there any gaps? Are there any obvious inaccuracies? Is bias evident? Is there extra information that adds to your own knowledge of the topic?