I have seen a few students recently who are struggling with the difference between a literature review and either a research proposal or an introduction.
In the psychology dept. the masters students were given guidance on this at the start of the year. However, it has come to my attention that many other students (including many who have not had the undergraduate experience of writing a dissertation, whether they be international students or joint honors students) are unclear on both what sets the projects apart and also the requirements for each.
I have adapted the advice that I was given and have created a document for the U Drive (U:) that should be more generic, with additional links to further support – please feel free to amend further if necessary.
The links provided within the document are shown below, they may be of use to those reading from a wider audience:
http://guides.library.vcu.edu/lit-review – Online PDF
http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/tutorials/lit-review/ – Online video tutorial
An abstract is used to present either proposed research or completed research to be published. Information on the latter is readily taught and readily available. However, in sessions recently I have noticed that abstract guidance for literature reviews or proposals is quite scarce. Also, it is around this time of year that students may be submitting such proposals, abstract included. Furthermore, writing an abstract for a proposal is an extremely important skill for the future as it may be required to obtain research funding (Black, 2014).
As opposed to a research dissertation abstract, writing a summary for a literature review or project proposal requires slightly different questions to be answered.
For a research proposal abstract the following elements are important (UNLV, 2013):
- A rationale for the choice of topic indicating its importance within the field or discipline for which you are writing.
- A brief summary of your review of the existing published work
- An outline of the intended approach or methodology
- Expected finding/s
- Implications of such finding/s
When writing an abstract for a literature review, the first two points above may be considered and described in more detail.
The word count of a proposal abstract can vary depending on the purpose of the summary. Within the university setting, for assignments, the guideline is usually around the 150-200 mark. However, for submissions to funding agencies students should be aware that the length of these abstracts depends on the requirements of the funding body and may be up to a page/500 words in length required. When affiliated with a company or presenting proposed research from a research group a WHO, WHAT, WHERE, HOW, WHEN and WHY approach is suggested as a way of covering all of the essentials about the work you intend to carry out (Biscoe, n.d.).
Web links to sources:
Black, C. (2014). Retrieved from: http://orsp.umich.edu/research-proposals-abstract-or-summary
Biscoe, B. (n.d.). Retrieved from: http://www.mc3edsupport.org/community/knowledgebases/proposal-abstract-sample-567.html
UNLV writing centre. (2013). Retrieved from: http://writingcenter.unlv.edu/writing/abstract.html
In the coming weeks I will be undertaking a volunteer role as a mentor/coach to secondary school pupils and in preparation for this post I have been assigned some useful reading. I was directed to The International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring. This is an online journal which is accessible to all (no need for a password or subscription) and all the articles published have been peer reviewed. Every year two volumes are released, one in the February and the other in the August.
Numerous different types of articles are included within the journal from typical academic research style papers to reflective essays and book reviews. The field of mentoring and coaching is explored from a variety of viewpoints such as that of coaching/mentoring adolescents or how coaching/mentoring is utilised within major companies. Reading through the journal gives you an idea of the important role a mentor/coach can play in the lives of their mentees or learners. It is also a reminder that coaching and mentoring is a field of work which is in a constant state of change and evolution.
As a result of having read a few papers included within the journal I have taken the opportunity to reflect on my own mentoring experience and how I can use what I have learnt from the current research into the area to improve how I mentor/coach the students who come to see me. It has also highlighted the differences which exist between mentoring/coaching someone on a regular basis to how we mentor/coach the students who come to see us as they typically only see us once (though this is not always the case). This journal is a very useful tool for anyone who mentors/coaches/advises and I would recommend checking it out.
If anyone is interested in reading any of the articles in the journal the link is posted below. All past issues of the journal from their first issue published in August 2003 to their current February 2016 volume can be accessed online. They have also published a number of ‘Special Issues’ which can also be found on their website.
Hopefully you will find the journal helpful or at the very least interesting!
The International Journal of Evidence Based Coaching and Mentoring. 2016. Available at: http://ijebcm.brookes.ac.uk/ (Accessed 25 Jan 2016)