Happy Doc Student Podcast

How to Write a Literature Review with Dr. Ellen Beattie

October 12, 2022 Heather Frederick, PhD Episode 85
Happy Doc Student Podcast
How to Write a Literature Review with Dr. Ellen Beattie
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Show Notes

The literature review presents many challenges. On this episode, Dr. Ellen Beattie walks you through a process that will set you on a path to a successful Chapter 2!
Ellen is an educational leader, developer, and consultant specializing in positive academic leadership, online teaching and learning, and neuroscience. She also operates an educational consulting platform, the Center for Intentional Learning.


  1.  Chapter 2 is an overview of the published literature and discusses the sources in conversation with each other (which requires high-level cognitive skills that can be enhanced by self-care...but the way, how is your self-care?)
  2. It often takes longer than other sections because it requires a deep understanding of your field (and this takes TIME) - you are going from a passive consumer to an active creator
  3. This task requires high-level cognitive skills (how is your self-care?)
  4. The literature review is an evolving document - you will be revising and adding to this until your oral defense 
  5. Think of this task as a puzzle and go through some systematic steps to build your chapter 2
    • Gather your resources (these must be diverse and include multiple viewpoints )
    • Organize your sources (you will want an organizational system for these)
    • Scan your sources and only read  the ones relevant to your study
    • Take notes - you must do this in a systematic way (for example a synthesis matrix - more on that here: https://www.buzzsprout.com/1547113/9643971
    • Mind map or outline to get a picture of how your story is going to be told - this is important - DO NOT SKIP THIS!! Share this with your chair before you write.
    • Review your matrix focusing on synthesis. You must maintain your academic voice - Chapter 2 is not a book report or an annotated bibliography.  Think of synthesis as a conversation among the authors of the research you are reading. What are they agreeing about? Disagreeing about?
    • Start writing! Write in whatever order works for you - once you have an outline, follow the outline, but don't force yourself to write from beginning to end in a linear fashion (unless that works for you!)
  6. Trust yourself and the process!
  7. Seek out and accept feedback
  8. Resist rabbit holes
  9. Stay sane (remember that self-care thing?)
  10. Adopt this mantra: Better today than yesterday

 Connect with Ellen



Ellen's publication mentioned in intro: The Power of the Positive: Enhancing Online Student Engagement for Adult Literacy Learners, is highlighted in Adult Literacy Education: The International Journal of Literacy, Language, and Numeracy.  

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