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Ordering citations in your literature review

Citations should lead toward the specific focus of the author's own study. You can use the following approaches:

  • distant to close
  • chronological
  • different categories of approach
  • combination of the above.

Which approaches can you identify in the following examples?

Exercise 1

Information Technology example

The general text for the area of information retrieval is more than 10 years old (Salton & McGill, Introduction to Modern Information Retrieval, 1983). Yet, the methods of information retrieval mentioned are still relevant today. Van Rijsbergen (1979) describes probabilistic retrieval, which is the model that the Bayesian network implementation of information retrieval system is based on. Of the implementations of such systems, Turtle's (1990) implementation appears to be the most well-known and demonstrates superior performance compared to Boolean and vector space methods. Ghazfan et al. (1994) have produced a different implementation which has not been tested in an actual information retrieval system. It is the purpose of this investigation to obtain performance results in an actual information retrieval system.


Exercise 2

Linguistics example

The situational approach was very much a product of the 1960s, one of its pioneering achievements being Neile Osman's work with Australian immigrants (Osman, 1959). As a movement, however, it did not really survive the attack made on it by Wilkins in the early 70s (eg. Wilkins, 1973). Wilkins' main objection therefore is that the situational approach is superficial. […] Widdowson, for instance, observes that 'The danger of such analysis is that …' […] Recent work by Ventola (1983; 1984), Martin (1985), Coupland (1983) and others opts for…[…] Current trends are towards reconstructing accounts that include…

Speech community has been an evolving concept […] and the variety of […] criteria has been discussed by Hudson (1980), Saville-Troike (1982) and especially by Braithwaite (1984). At the outset, a speech community was seen as being composed of those who share similar linguistic rules (Bloomfield, 1933) […] Later, Labov will emphasize 'shared norms' […] (Labov, 1966:7). Finally, there are those such as Hymes who argue for multiple criteria.


This example moves from distant to close (in terms of relevance and applicability) as well as chronologically. It moves from 1) the broader historical context to 2) the implementation which demonstrates superior performance, and then to 3) the implementation which provides the model to be tested for the study.

This example too is at first glance structured chronologically, but it focuses on putting up two different approaches ('situational' and 'speech community'), comparing and contrasting a number of scholars.

How does this extract demonstrate a clear and consistent personal perspective?

It uses expressions which signal a) command of the field and b) attitude or evaluation: 'very much a product of the 1960s'; 'did not really survive the attack', 'current trends are towards'; 'At the outset, a speech community was seen'.

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