LO1: Conduct a small scale literature review and identify key studies and contemporary issues in your specific discipline (health and social care wellbeing)

LO2: Critically evaluate a range of relevant research journals and draw valid conclusions

LO3: Synthesise complex theories and practices in a complex way


LO4: Produce 15 Annotated Bibliography, Process and present information in an appropr

University of Bolton

MSc Social Care, Health and Wellbeing

MA Early Childhood Studies

MA Youth and Community Studies


Critical Reading and Writing Skills



Semester 1

Level HE7

1. Module Overview 2
2. Learning and Teaching Strategy 2
3. Module Communications 2
4. Module Description 2
6. Learning Outcomes and Assessments 3
7. Assessment Deadlines 3
8. Assessment Feedback 3
9. Module Calendar 4
10. Formative Assessment 4
11. Indicative Reading 4
12. Guidelines for the Preparation and Submission of Written Assessments 5
13. Academic Misconduct 6
14. Assessments 7
15. General Assessment Criteria for Written Assessments 9

1. Module Overview

Module Tutor

Ben Hughes

Tel. no.

01204 903 841


[email protected]

Office Location


Drop-in Availability

Please email for an appointment to check my availability

Weblink to Moodle Class


Weblink to Module Specification


2. Learning and Teaching Strategy

This module has been designed to deliver effective learning and teaching to you both as a student but also an individual working in practice. The 200 notional hours are delivered by a number of strategies that are effective and popular with our students. These include classroom work with formal lecturers incorporating discussion and debate in addressing core concepts, interactive learning activities and problem based learning. The sessions will be structured around a variety of teaching and learning methods such as reading exercises, discussions, critical thinking activities, web-based learning, amongst others, to provide input to help yo

Assessment 1 – Guidance

Module weighting


What is Assessment 1?

A literature review

Learning outcomes

LO1: Conduct a small scale literature review and identify key studies and contemporary issues in your specific discipline (EY, HSC, CDYS)

LO2: Critically evaluate a range of relevant research journals and draw valid conclusions

LO3: Synthesise complex theories and practices in a complex way

Different ways to write a literature review

· Chronologically – you need to write critically, not just descriptively or present information in a list

· Thematically – this is useful if there are several strands within your topic that can logically be considered separately before being brought together

· By sector – political background, practice background, methodological background, geographical background, literary background

· By idea – this could be useful if there are identifiable stages of idea development that can be looked at in turn

· A combination of the above or by any other relevant structure.

(University of Leicester, 2019)

What to do and what to not do

· Do

· Critically evaluate the articles and books read

· Write the literature review as an integrated whole – synthesise ideas

· What to not do

· Just describe a series of studies

· Do not include irrelevant or adjacent research in the literature review – keep your information focused and relevant to your topic

(Kaminstein, 2017)

Elements of a literature review – A guide

· Introduction – provide a roadmap for the reader about the focus of the review and what is covered in the literature review.

· Background – provide context, background information or statistics that will help the reader understand what follows. For example, if the research is focused on leadership development, provide statistics on the estimated total amount spent on leadership efforts in a year, the number of schools, consulting firms, who specialises in this area

· Definitions – define the terms being used in the research question

· Main Body of the Literature Review – a review of relevant literature, organised in a way that tells a coherent story related to the research question.

· Gaps in the Literature – identify gaps in the literature that are related

Assessment 2 – Guidance

How to write an annotated reference list

“Write a concise annotation that summarizes the central theme and scope of the book or article. Include one or more sentences that (a) evaluate the authority or background of the author, (b) comment on the intended audience, (c) compare or contrast this work with another you have cited, or (d) explain how this work illuminates your bibliography topic.”

(Cornell University, 2019)

What is an annotated reference list?

“An annotated bibliography [reference list] is a list of citations to books, articles, and documents. Each citation is followed by a brief descriptive and evaluative paragraph, the annotation. The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited.”

(Cornell University, 2019)

Module weighting


What is Assessment 2?

An annotated reference list

Learning outcome

LO4: Process and present information in an appropriate format

Sample annotated reference list (from Cornell University, 2019)

Be aware of different referencing styles and ensure you only use Harvard.

Waite, L. J., Goldschneider, F. K., & Witsberger, C. (1986). Nonfamily living and the erosion of traditional family orientations among young adults. American Sociological Review, 51, 541-554.
The authors, researchers at the Rand Corporation and Brown University, use data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and Young Men to test their hypothesis that nonfamily living by young adults alters their attitudes, values, plans, and expectations, moving them away from their belief in traditional sex roles. They find their hypothesis strongly supported in young females, while the effects were fewer in studies of young males. Increasing the time away from parents before marrying increased individualism, self-sufficiency, and changes in attitudes about families. In contrast, an earlier study by Williams cited below shows no significant gender differences in sex role attitudes as a result of nonfamily living.

Waite, Linda J., et al. “Nonfamily Living and the Erosion of Traditional Family Orientations Among Young Adults.” American Sociological Review, vol. 51, no. 4, 1986, pp. 541-554.
The authors, researchers at the Rand Corporation and Brown University, use data from the National Longitudinal Surveys of Young Women and Young Men to test their hypothesis th

Critical reading and writing

An introduction

Aims of session

To consider a critical approach

Examine the diverse information we are presented with in daily life and how this is influenced by perception and experience

Begin to review ways in which we can be critical and review experience to date

What is ‘being critical’?

Being critical is not necessarily about being argumentative or looking at what is wrong

Being critical is:

Being able to form an argument or case

Examining information in-depth and developing a discerning view

Involves questioning what is presented, considering the purpose of what is written and why

Includes use of terms and persuasion

Being critical is considering information in greater depth

Consider why information is presented to you?

An advert

A political post running up to an election

Brexit: 10 Most Interesting Ads by the “Vote Leave”
Campaign (19:18)

10 Political Ads of
2016 (8:21)

Consider what you see and how you decide what is beneath the

words which are said or images presented….

What is critical reading?

If it is in print it must be the truth….

The media whatever form it takes depends upon the presentations of facts

However, there is a story beneath the facts and images presented

The ability to delve and question is the critical aspect of reading

To question is to gain greater understanding and knowledge

Objective/factual writing????

Objectivity is based on the ability to look at events from an impartial or factual perspective

Objectivity is often associated with ‘science’

When we critique writing we are often looking at how objective someone is

Considering possible bias based upon their intention or belief

Actually information is often subjective and biased

Subjectivity and perception

Relativism forwards the view that objectivity is


We are all influenced by our experiences

Hence we look at the world from our view

Influenced by experience, culture and


Perception is influenced by social position,


Types and purpose of writing


To examine why people write

To consider the types of writing which are available

To review the 4 main front line texts

To discuss this in terms of ways you will critically review the materials which are part of your review

Why people write

Conveying and message

Engaging an audience

Demonstrating their understanding

Show academic credentials

To share ideas and gain credibility (nationally and internationally)

To make changes in practice and society

Educate others

Types of writing

There are many reasons for writing

Leading writing to fall into categories

Fiction and non-fiction

Biographical/observational works

For pleasure, e.g. novel

Conveyance of information/theory

To persuade others

For attention/notoriety

For the academic the non-fiction is generally the most useful

Are we reading less?

There is a current concern that we read don’t read enough

Early years are concerned about the effect of this and there has been a lot of work with parents to look at this

There is some discussion that whilst this is true there are assumptions made which generally relate to reading books

Maybe methods of communication have just changed –we use social media, text, email etc….


Academic materials

There are a range of academic reading sources available to us

These will change with the level of study and what we want to achieve at the time

The materials academics use to research/increase knowledge within their disciplines include:



Policy documents










Text books

Early academic study comes from the text book

Skills textbooks

Subject textbooks

These most often represent an introduction or guide and will give a concise guide to an area

For instance the work of a theorist might be contained within a few pages or paragraphs

Titles reflect the field/subject or sub-field, there is a blurb, or there are multiple copies (essential reading)

Text books and PG study

Post-graduates are expected to read beyond the text book, although this will often be the starting place

Critical consideration of Practitioner research


To consider how research is affected by being an insider/outsider

Examine the areas of research and writing which are affected by being a practitioner

Consider types of involvement and dilemmas faced

Examine a variety of practitioner journals for your own subject area

Types of practitioner research

Practitioner-led research

Practitioners examine aspects of their practice in order to improve it

Aims to improve and involve

Assesses, understands and evaluates

Generally qualitative

Academic-partnership research

Led by researchers rather than practitioners

Academic focus rather than practice focused

Assesses, understands and explains

Generally quantitative

(Shaw and Lunt, 2018)

Observation is an important part of research based upon gathering knowledge from events

Works across different settings/environments

Requires careful planning to observe and record accurately

Analysis is often challenging in terms of objectivity and ethics

The observational method is a widely accessed practitioner approach

Insider/outsider observer?

Observational techniques:

Researchers observe but are not involved

Recordings may be used, e.g. tape recorder or video camera

The main advantage is that the researcher exerts minimal influence on the group’s actions and might be seen to be impartial

Not necessarily give the insider view

May have an effect on the research scene

Non-Participant Observation

Researcher is part of the community, ‘scene’ or workplace

This creates understanding of the group consciousness/tacit skills to fit in

Includes research with ‘marginal’ groups and might be equated with practitioner research

Creates a more valid picture of social reality/organisational culture?

The researcher is less likely to impose their concepts and ideas on the setting

Useful in providing information which can form the basis of new hypotheses / contributes to Evidence Based Practice

Participant Observation

(i) Professionals carrying out a study in their work setting

(ii) Researchers belonging to, or accepted as a member of a community in which they are studying

(iii) Collaborative research: the researcher and participants are both active in the research

(iv) The researcher has empathy and understanding participants, due to own experiences

(v) Personal narrative whereby the researcher is the subject of the study

Rooney (2005) identified 5 different categories:


Complexity in literature / developing an argument


To further consider the importance of developing an argument using literature

Examine the importance of questioning

Further examine evaluation

Explore some of the practicalities of the research

Complexity in literature and developing an argument

Academic writing aims to covey a viewpoint or argument

Influenced by the stance of the writer and later that of the reader

This creates a complexity which other academics need to unpick

This means that questioning the articles becomes critical

Central question

This is the question which underlies the whole piece or a substantial theme

The question will offer guidance to the broad area which will be discussed

It is important that this is clear

Review questions

Theoretical questions

Whose theory or model is important

Justification of the methodology

The review questions for the purpose of the literature review

These help you find focus as you read

Evaluating the usefulness of what you read

1: Reliability of the literature:

Evaluate its arguments and conclusions / compare the two to show the link

Measuring how convincing the literature is

Justification of the claim or claims, E.G. Assess the evidence base for reliability and validity

2: Contributing to an argument:

Focusing upon clarity / Being balanced/

Supporting the argument through materials

e.g. The researcher effect

Brink (1993) analyses the research effect and claims any research must be evaluated with this in mind

This includes participants behaving differently with different researchers

Researchers should be aware of changing the reality in research

Research group can discuss change and accommodate in evaluation

Discuss in small groups: Provide an example from a setting you are familiar with and how a researcher might effect the environment

Developing an argument

Looking at different perspectives and view points

Reading widely: Within and across disciples / including opinion pieces

Be measured and evidence based

Terms of comparison: But, however, in contrast / in comparison / conversely

Acknowledge: From the viewpoint of….

Carrying out a literature search

Key sources to inform specialists:

General bibliographies / specialist subject bibliographies / publications

Catalogues: Libraries and specialist institutions

Abstraction and Indexing journals: Use of the short summary

The search should be strategic

Annotated Bibliography

What is an Annotated Bibliography

An organised list of citations/references

Each has a brief annotation of 100-250 words

The annotation provides a description of the citation

The annotation provides an evaluation (Could use a tool for this purpose)


What is included?

Complete bibliographic information

The main focus and purpose of the work

The intended audience? (e.g. professionals, academics, the general public)

The special features such as tables, charts, glossary, which are helpful for understanding (reflect on the chosen methodology)

Author’s background and credibility (e.g. qualifications, affiliations, profession)

The relationship to other studies, including the detail of the author’s own bibliography

Conclusions reached (are the appropriate and consistent?)

A critical review may also include:

An overview/assessment of the usefulness of the source

Relevance to the aim/objectives you are looking to respond to

Evaluative comparison with other sources

Reliability or bias of the literature

Your own evaluation, conclusions, or observations regarding the source

Purpose of annotated bibliography

To show, and summarise, a critical understanding of the literature

To show the thought process which has informed your literature review in terms of collecting the journals and being consistent in the review of each

To assess the understanding of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the journal papers

To create a record which can then be used for the literature review


To consider systematic reviews beginning with some comparison with narrative reviews

To consider the order and approach to undertaking a systematic review

Explore ways in which the evidence which is included might be ranked

Consider the process of evaluation in terms the credibility of the systematic review

Types of Literature Reviews

Narrative Review:

Widely used in social science

Used for identifying key concepts or specific terms

Outlining particular theories and concepts understood by the author

Broad and general

Systematic Review:

Used in a variety of disciplines to contribute to practice understanding (EBP)

Help synthesis a range of research



Types of Literature Reviews


Narrative review

Related to concepts, theories and methods

Concepts: terms and ideas used to describe phenomenon

Theories: Ideas to explain specific phenomenon

Empirical research: Observing phenomena

Methodology: Philosophical approach to research

Methods: A range of method, such as questionnaires, observations, and interviews

Systematic Review

Evidence Based Practice

Health e.g. International Cochrane Collaboration/National Institution for Health and Care Excellence

Allows a critical appraisal of the most robust evidence/what is known and not known about an intervention

Synthesis of available evidence

A rigorous approach – clear research approach, criteria, and presentation of information

Systematic Review

1.      Formulate Research Question



Interventions(or Exposures).



Study Design

2.      Develop Research Protocol

3.      Conduct Literature Search

4.      Select Studies

5.      Appraise Studies

6.      Extract Data

7.      Analyse Results

8.      Interpret Results

University of Minnesota, 2017


Systematic Review

PRISMA (Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses) checklist

An evidence-based minimum set of items for reporting in systematic reviews and meta-analyses.



Systematic Review

Hughes et al., 2018


Systematic Review characteristi

Template: Critical Analysis of a Text

Text (reference details)

1. What review question am I asking of this text?

(E.g.: What is my central question? Why select this text? Does the Critical Analysis of this text fit into my investigation with a wider focus? What is my constructive purpose in undertaking a Critical Analysis of this text?)

2. How and why are the authors making this contribution?

a) What type of literature is this? (E.g.: Theoretical, research, practice, policy? Are there links with other types of literature?)

b) How clear is it which intellectual project the authors are undertaking? (E.g., knowledge-for-understanding, knowledge-for-critical evaluation, knowledge-for-action, training?)

c) How is the intellectual project reflected in the authors’ mode of working? (E.g.: A social science or a practical orientation? Choice of methodology and methods? An interest in understanding or in improving practice?)

d) What value stance is adopted towards the practice or policy investigated? (E.g.: Relatively impartial, critical, positive, unclear? What assumptions are made about the possibility of improvement? Whose practice or policy is the focus of interest?)

e) How does the sort of intellectual project being undertaken affect the research questions addressed? (E.g.: Investigation of what happens? What is wrong? How well a particular policy or intervention works in practice?)

f) How does the sort of intellectual project being undertaken affect the place of theory? (E.g.: Is the investigation informed by theory? Generating theory? Atheoretical? Developing social science theory or a practical theory?)

g) How does the authors’ target audience affect the reporting of research? (E.g.: Do the authors assume academic knowledge of methods? Criticize policy? Offer recommendations for action?)

3. What is being claimed that is relevant to answering my review question?

a) What are the main kinds of knowledge claim that the authors are making? (E.g., theoretical k

Reviewing and evaluating policy

Reviewing policy


To define ‘policy’ and consider importance and types

Discuss how policy is developed

Look at the ways in which ideology impacts upon policy

Explore the policy review stages and policy evaluation

Defining Policy

A law, regulation, procedure, administrative action, incentive, or voluntary practice of governments and other institutions;

Policy states specific principles and responsibilities

Focused upon action and who should do what and when

It is a statement of authority

Good policy allows people to get on with core business more efficiently and effectively

UK policies – https

Types of Policy

1. Influenced by the reason for development

Reactive policy

A response to a problem or emergency – so can be formed quickly

Designed to remedy existing problems.

Proactive policy

Designed to prevent a concern, problem, or emergency from occurring

Policy includes: Financial and economic, Environmental, Industrial, Energy, Security and defence, Education, Health


Types of Policy…

According to the scope of development

Private: relating to institutions, organizations, and privately held companies

Public: related to governmental bodies and developed for the greater public good

According to their affect on individuals

Distributive policies affect the distribution of goods or services as well as their costs among members of an organization

Regulatory policies limit or compel certain types of behaviour

Constituent policies create executive power entities or deal with laws

How policy is developed?

There are a number of different ways in which policy is devised by Government and depends upon the type of Government which exists.

In Britain the existence of a democracy should mean that the public are able to influence policy.

The different political parties will make public their approach to policy and fight their election campaign based on such issues as health, welfare, and education

Policy is influenced by lobbying and campaigning