Learning Resource - Medical Engineering, Third Year Research Project: Literature Review
Looking at the Literature Review structure


The exercises in this learning resource have been designed to help you think about the kind of structure that a literature review typically has. They also show how a literature review can fit into the structure of a complete report; in other words how the literature review can help to tell a convincing story about your research. To begin with, you should listen to Tina's comments.


Matching Exercise 2 Narrative structure in reports

Tina talks at one point about a 'step by step' approach and at another about the text telling 'a really nice story' that leads the reader on. This is interesting and useful because reports as a whole, not just literature reviews, often do share a similar 'narrative' structure to stories. We can think of this structure as having four typical stages:

  • Situation
  • Problem
  • Response
  • Evaluation.

(See Hoey 2001; Swales & Feak, 2009)






Exercise 3 Steps in the student's literature review

What's nice about Tina's idea of 'story' is that it emphasises the importance of leading the reader along. Let's go back to the Literature Review part of a report and focus in particular on the story told by the Literature Review on: The development of a system for TDz-TDS detection of cartilage proteins'. Below are some 'steps' that the writer took expressed in the form of questions and answers. (Tina has clarified some of these (*) where they are a little unclear in the student's text.)


Notice how the answers lead to the the next question?

Hoey, M. ( 2001) Textual interaction: an introduction to written discourse analysis. London: Routledge

Swales, J.M. (1990) Genre Analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Swales, J.M. & Feak, C.B. (2009) Academic Writing for Graduate Students: essential tasks and skills. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press