These notes are completed and submitted at the end of each class session. Ten minutes at the end of each class is allocated for everyone to write or draw a half-page idea note reflecting on the dialogue that has taken place. Students may literally write or draw anything in response, and everyone receives a full score (one point per class session) as long as the note is submitted. A few ideas of what to write include:
- What does the talk inspire you to think about? Either as a practitioner, as a research, or as a citizen.
- How does this particular talk connect to other topics in the term, if any?
- Do you have any personal experience related to the discussion?
- Did the dialogue change any of your prior notions about China? How so?
- What if you were the presenter? Is there anything that you would do different?
- On data, method and research design: Is there anything you have learned as research methods, to whatever depths that one class can offer?
- Are there any ideas relevant to your term project topics?
Each pair of students will be assigned to one of the literature synthesis candidate topics to write and present a literature synthesis for China’s urbanization. (The topic of the literature review may be the same as that of the team project.) The deliverables include:
- Presentation: 15 minutes including questions and answers
- Written report: 3000 words
- Students will write their reports individually but present them in pairs in a form of a debate; one student will focus on the positive perspective and the other will focus on the negative perspective.
How to Write a Literature Synthesis
The purpose of a literature synthesis is to add value. It is not simply a catalog of papers you have read.
Stages / components
Problem formulation: overview of the subject, issue or theory; clarify the objectives of the literature review
Data categorization and evaluation
Four typical structures of organization:
- Chronological (by trend)
- Opinion: support, opposition, neutral, alternative perspective
Critical appraisal of papers:
- Contribution: method, data, theory
- Impact on practice
Data analysis, interpretation and synthesis
- Similarity of papers: Identify trends and patterns
- Differences between papers: Resolve conflicts
- Relationships between papers
- New perspectives / new interpretations
- Gaps in the existing literature
- Point the way forward for further research
How to start
- Read other papers’ literature review sections and follow good styles.
- Identify a few core papers (e.g., 7–15) and supplemental sources (e.g., 20–50).
- Read the core papers carefully and summarize each separately as the starting point.
- Follow Section 2 (“Stages/components” as detailed above).