Supervising literature reviews


A workshop plan for supervisors who want to help their students produce good literature reviews

Workshop introduction

This workshop encourages supervisors to help their students take a reflective approach to reviewing the literature related to their research. It is appropriate for both experienced and inexperienced supervisors, and could be modified to include some students as well.

There are many reasons to encourage supervisors to develop strategies for helping students with literature reviews, such as:

  • Early in their candidacy many students hold rather simplistic conceptions of what a literature review is, how to conduct one and how to write it
  • Students often report that their supervisors did not give them as much help with this aspect of their work as they felt they needed
  • Examiners single out the literature review as a major influence on their first impressions of the thesis

Workshop aims

In the workshop, participants will:

  • explore their own information-gathering styles and conceptions of the information gathering context
  • review research on students’ conceptions of literature reviews
  • become familiar with a reflective model of information searching
  • consider difficulties they experience in supervising literature reviews
  • develop strategies for dealing with these problems
  • use resources related to exploring information styles, planning information searches, recording actions, and reflecting on one’s work

List of contents

  1. Who, when and why
  2. Program overview
  3. Preparation
  4. Program
  5. Detailed advice for facilitators
  6. Handouts
  7. Overheads

Supervising literature review workshop
(You need Acrobat Reader to open this pdf file. You can download it free from Adobe.)


This workshop is based on research and scholarship by:
Dr Christine Bruce
Associate Professor and Director, Teaching and Learning
Faculty of Information Technology
Queensland University of Technology.
Peggy Nightingale assisted in converting the materials into an online resource.

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