Academic essays part 8: managing the literature
One of the difficulties that many nurses experience when writing academic essays is managing the vast amount of information that arises from their literature search. If you have been following the articles in this series then you will have seen how, by progressive focusing of the literature search (part 5, Fowler, 2020a), you should aim to find about 30 articles on which to base a standard 3000-word academic essay. The problem that many students then find is ‘managing’ those 30 articles in a way that enables them to extract relevant information and include it in a structured and logical way (part 6, Fowler, 2020b) in their essay while demonstrating critical analysis and depth of writing (part 7, Fowler, 2021).
Whereas the previous articles have explored the more theoretical side of this process, this article gives you practical tips on how to extract, arrange and structure the information from your literature in a way that you can understand and use in your essay. The following ideas are based on my experience of running assignment workshops for both undergraduate pre-registration students and qualified nurses on postgraduate courses; even the experienced students seemed to have found the following practical approach useful.
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