You have probably read around your subject area before, so what makes academic literature different? Mostly, it is to do with how confident you can be in the information you are reading. Academic literature is peer-reviewed by other experts, to ensure that they agree with the conclusions the original author has made.
However, this does not mean that all academic literature is infallible! Researchers are humans who make mistakes, just like everyone else – therefore, whenever reading academically it is important to consider the strength of the evidence or argument presented to you. Do you agree with what is being said?
Being able to read academic literature, and engage with this critically, will be an important skill set in your higher education studies.
Watch the video series below on engaging critically with academic literature in English, and follow along by completing the activities in the worksheets. After you have watched the video series, you can apply what you have learnt to read and review the example secondary literature (or another article of your choice), in an academic literature review challenge.
It is up to you how to use the video and worksheet series, but if you would like guidance on how to use your time this week to complete the series, and submit an academic literature review, see the ‘Managing your time’ section at the bottom of this page.
We’d like you to produce a short review of a secondary literature of your choice, either on a topic you’re interested in or one of the suggested pieces of literature below.
Your review should be:
- A short description of the secondary literature you have read, and a critique of this.
- Between 300 – 500 words long.
- Saved in Microsoft Word or PDF format.
- Properly referenced (include the literature you have reviewed, and any others that you read to support your review).
You should submit your article by email to email@example.com, following the instructions outlined here.
After you have watched the video series, read the secondary literature below. Click the link to download the literature.
• Caitlin L. Kelly, ‘Private Meditations and Public History in Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of A Plague Year’, The Explicator 71.1 (2013), pp.52-55. Content Warning: contains discussions of epidemics.
• Liza Blake, ‘Pounced Corrections in Oxford Copies of Cavendish’s Philosophical and Physical Opinions; or, Margaret Cavendish’s Glitter Pen’, New College Notes 10:6 (2018), pp.1-11.
Whilst watching this video series, you should complete the activities in the accompanying activities booklet. You can download the booklet by clicking on the link below.
In some videos, there are some associated example secondary literatures for you to look at. Where this is the case, you can click the links below each video to download these. Please note, some of this material is copyrighted, and should only be used for personal learning on the Inspire Programme. Please do not share these materials.
Introducing Secondary Literature in the Humanities
Structures of Secondary Literature
Note Taking and Citing Sources
Analysing Arguments and Evidence
Managing your time
In order to watch the full video series, and complete your academic literature review challenge, you have a few different tasks to complete. You should plan how you will complete these tasks, to ensure you are able to submit your review at the end of the Summer School. A suggested task list for each day is provided here.
Monday 1st August/Day 1
- Download the Activities Booklet.
- Watch the video ‘Introducing Secondary Literature in the Humanities’, and complete the activities related to this.
Tuesday 2nd August/Day 2
- Watch the video ‘Structures of Secondary Literature’, and complete the activities related to this.
- Consider the titles of the challenge literature, and start to think about which one you will review.
- OR – search using online tools to find a piece of secondary literature you would like to review
Wednesday 3rd August/Day 3
- Watch the video ‘Note Taking and Citing Sources’, and complete the activities related to this.
- Start reading your challenge literature, making some notes on important sections.
Thursday 4th August/Day 4
- Watch the video ‘Analysing Arguments and Evidence’, and complete the activities related to this.
- Finish reading your challenge literature, continuing to make notes.
- You should also make notes on your opinion of the article!
Friday 5th August/Day 5
- Write your academic literature review, following the guidelines above.
- Check your reference list is complete.
- Submit your academic literature review as a PDF or Word Document, following the guidelines here.
- The deadline to submit your academic literature review is 31st August 2022.