I have found the producing the literature review for A2 much more difficult than I should have. Ultimately I have produced an essay that I am not happy with, however, in the final process of completion I hope to have stumbled on a strategy about the way forward for my dissertation. 

Initially I intended to write about theories of everyday life – this was a subject that resonated with me during my early reading for CS in texts I was directed to by my tutor. After struggling trying to write A2 on this subject for some time, I eventually realised that I needed to refine my focus as the subject was simply too large to tackle within the confines of the course. (My thoughts about this are here.) Adapting my subject to consumerism/consumption came about organically as this was a theme I was starting to explore in BoW – I was excited that my contextual and practical work were starting to come together. I formulated a structure and plan and decided to concentrate on some key texts so I would not become side tracked. Unfortunately, without a clear idea of what I wanted to focus on in my extended essay, I struggled to keep to my plan – almost everything I read seemed to point me to another source that could be the key text for my research. This is perhaps the most important consideration point for me as I move to A3 and the dissertation proper – how to stop becoming side tracked and remain disciplined about what is important.

Points to note moving to A3:

  • Reading
    • It feels like I have amassed a pile of material/texts so far – most of which I have not been able to include in A2. I now need to be more disciplined to decide which ones will be of value for the dissertation, revisit these and discard any that are not of use. I need to be careful about becoming side tracked into potential areas that are interesting but not necessarily relevant – rereading with focus will help with this.
  • Note taking
    • I have been inconsistent with note taking so far and need to work harder on this, using note taking as a way of interrogating ideas through the process of writing about them. Better notes will also aid with writing the essay.
  • Write, review, rework, edit
    • This was advice from the CS tutorials with Ariadne Xenou I have been attending (see notes here and here.) There is a definite benefit to doing this and I need to be more disciplined to follow this through.
  • Take a position/have a focus
    • The main reason I have struggled with A2 is that I have not had a position to work from or question to ask. This is the main area of advice I want from my A2 tutorial, I still do not have a question or title for my essay, but going back to my sources with a stronger focus (my initial idea is to look at the tension between large chain businesses and small sole traders.) Throughout working on A2 I have looked back on other students literature reviews for inspiration and worried about the clarity they displayed and the fact that I have struggled to achieve this. With hindsight I now realise that this is because they have been very clear about the terms of reference they are investigating – something I have failed to set for myself.

Tutorial discussion points:

  • What texts are missing? Are there any recommendations?
  • Discussion about taking a position and essay title – any advice?
  • Thoughts on how to structure the essay.
  • Feedback on formatting and presentation of literature review – font, size, spacing, refencing etc.
  • Any useful resources to share?
  • Any examples of strong dissertations that can be shared?