A good way to practice this is to pay careful attention when reading literature reviews in published articles – you will see that authors don’t simply summarise previous studies, but offer a critique leading to a gap for their own research.
How you present your argument is nearly as important as the argument itself, which is why it is imperative that your essay follows a logical structure.
What are the limitations of the theories you are drawing on? How do they impact the quality of arguments presented, and to what extent do they limit our understanding of what you are studying?
What alternate explanations might offer additional depth?
Perfect theories and academic approaches are rare – the clear majority of theories, arguments, and studies have flaws.
Being descriptive is fine if you are looking to scrape a pass, but for a higher grade you need to show that you are able to leverage critical reasoning in your dealing with academic materials.You should start by searching through databases – Google Scholar is a great tool for this – using key words related to your research topic.Once you find an article that sounds promising, read through the abstract to ensure that it’s relevant.Make sure to tell your reader why you are transitioning from one argument to the next, why they are in this particular order, and how each argument helps shed light on a particular aspect of what you are discussing.Writing may be the core task, but reading is equally important.A classic piece of advice is to “tell them what you are going to tell them, then tell them, and tell them what you told them” – this, in essence, summarises the core introduction, main body, and conclusion structure of your essay.Having a clear and logical structure will help ensure that your essay stays focused, and doesn’t stray from the question being answered.You should also make sure that all the different parts of your essay fit together as a cohesive and logical whole, and that the transition from one argument to the next is fluid.Students often treat essays as lists of arguments, presenting one after the other with little consideration for how they fit together, which inevitably leads to a lower grade.Once you have identified a few solid articles, you should (a) go through their bibliographies and take note of who they are citing, as these articles will likely be of value for your own research; and (b) check on Google Scholar to see who has cited them.To do this, simply input the name of the article in the search bar and hit enter.