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📝 Academic Writing Tip #2

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📝 Academic Writing Tip #2
by SBC CLT - Tuesday, 5 September 2023, 9:57 AM
Academic Writing Tip #2
Preparing your literature review? 

Here's some ✏️ tips from Academic Phrasebank.

Photo by Zen Chung:
A note on the literature review
The purpose of the literature review section of a paper is to show the reader, in a systematic way, what is already known about the research topic as a whole, and to outline the key ideas and theories that help us to understand this. The review should be evaluative and critical of the studies or ideas which are relevant to the current work.

A note on referencing style

The way a writer refers to other sources varies somewhat across different disciplines. In some cases, where the individual author is important, the author’s name will be the main subject of the sentence; in other cases, the author’s name may only be mentioned in brackets ( ... ) or via a number notation system (e.g. footnotes and endnotes). The ‘author as subject’ style is less common in the empirical disciplines (sciences) and more commonly used in the humanities. Different referencing systems are used in different disciplines. In the majority of the examples given here, the Harvard in-text referencing system has been used.

A note on verb tenses

For general reference to the literature, the present perfect tense (have/has + verb participle) tends to be used. For reference to specific studies carried out in the past, the simple past tense is most commonly used. This is normally the case where a specific date or point in time in the past forms a part of the sentence. When referring to the words or ideas of writers, the present tense is often used if the ideas are still relevant, even if the author is no longer alive. The examples given below reflect these general patterns, but these are by no means rigid.

Want to see some examples? Go to the Learner Support Page and Check the Academic Phrasebank resource under Academic Writing. Check Pages 31-45.


Morley, J. (2021). Reviewing the Literature. Academic phrasebank A compendium of commonly used phrasal elements in academic English, (2018 ed., pp. 31–45)., University of Manchester.