The Ultimate Guide to Writing your CV

A CV, or résumé, is often the only document which employers will see before deciding whether to bring you to interview or continue with the application process. Because of this, your CV must be easy to read and highlight your achievements both in education and work experience.

It is a chance to big yourself up. After all, when you apply for a job, you want to show that you are the best suited applicant for the role. We have developed this CV guide to help you create a plan of action when it comes to creating, updating or revamping your CV.

A Well-Crafted CV

While you may have tons of things you want to include on your CV, try to keep it short and simple. Make it easy to navigate and try not to make it longer than one A4 page. Remember, companies can receive hundreds of applications for one role. They want to be able to shortlist fast, so learn how to make a CV that is clear and ordered.

Tailor to Your Industry

You may have had many jobs which, if you included them all on your CV, would make it pages long. The key to overcoming this is to pick out the jobs which have the most relevance to the one you are applying for.

Give detail of your responsibilities and achievements in those roles, and then mention the other positions you held and across which dates elsewhere on the document.

You could list the less-relevant ones in a box to the side, or simply underneath the rest of the experience.

Whatever the job is that you are applying for, our CV and Cover Letter review service offers guidance and suggestions for improvement. Our team or experts can edit and recommend changes, if you would like a second opinion once you have drafted it.

What to Include

Here is a basic checklist of the sections you should have on your CV:

  • Your Name
  • Updated Contact Details
  • Job History - most recent job first
  • Education -where and when you studied, plus the grades achieved
  • Additional Skills - relevant awards or training to help showcase your suitability to the role
  • Hobbies & Interests – if you can relate it to the work you are looking for, great, but it is an opportunity to show your personality. Try not to make it too generic, otherwise don’t do it.


Most CV’s aren’t created in a few minutes. Be prepared to re-jig elements of the document and the layout to fit everything on.

Here’s how to make a CV that encompasses everything about you. Write out all of the information you want to include and accept that you may have to shorten it down to highlight the ‘best bits’.

There are plenty of templates online if you are looking for something fancy. If you would prefer to keep it traditional, follow our CV guide template here.

Headers for Different Sections

You want your CV to be as easy as possible to navigate, and headers are the best way to do this.

Introduce your job history, education and interests under separate headers, and use sub-headings to further distinguish between roles and educational institutions.

The additional benefit of this is, when you upload your CV to an online application form, the forms can pick out information from the right areas, saving you some time!

Bullet Points

Keep it concise. Whether this is your first job or your twenty-first, recruiters still want to be able to skim your document for the most important information.

When you are pushed for space, bullet points come in very handy. They can summarise sentences in a fraction of the word count without losing any vital information.

Prioritise your bullet points; put the most relevant things at the top and the less important bits nearer the bottom.

Professional Fonts

You can probably make your own judgement as to which fonts look more professional than others. Going with the default on your program will usually do the job. From our experience and for the purposes of our CV guide, some of the most professional fonts include Arial, Tahoma and Times New Roman.

Obviously, don’t go for anything too crazy. Even if a company is asking for an out-of-the-ordinary CV, there is probably more than you can do with the design of it than with the fonts.

Use font sizes to differentiate between sections of your CV. You may also consider making the font a little smaller if you have lots to include. Be sensible about it, though. Don’t make the font tiny; recruiters should still be able to read it clearly.

Cover Letters

With every CV that you submit for a position, you should include a Cover Letter. Whether the job ad specifies it or not, it is best practice.

Your Cover Letter is where you can explain in more detail why you are the ideal fit for the role you are applying for. You can go into a little more depth about your relevant experience and tie it into the job requirements.

Perhaps one of the most important points in this CV guide is this. Tailor your Cover Letter to every single position you apply for. Mention the company and why it appeals to you. While you can send the same CV out to similar companies, take the time to personalise the Cover Letter to the position. This is much more likely to get you noticed and show that you are keen.

Structuring your Cover Letter

Start with an introduction to yourself and state the position which you are applying for. It is also helpful to put your contact details on there, too.

Explain why you want to work with the company and what you can bring to the role. Try and balance it so that you show what the job would mean for you as well as the value that you will bring to the company.

Mention your relevant experience and achievements, and if you feel like it is natural, you can include a little personality to help your application stand out.

At the end of your Cover Letter, thank the recruiter for taking the time to read the application. Tell them you are looking forward to hearing from them and sign off.

The Road to CV Success

We hope that our CV guide has provided you with all of the information on how to make a CV that showcases the very best of you and your achievements. Remember that your CV and Cover Letter go hand in hand to compliment one another, so you should take time in preparing them both.

At Express Proofreading we offer a specialist CV review service where we will review and edit your CV to ensure that it is the best that it can be. We also offer a CV and cover letter proofreading service for which you can obtain an instant proofreading quote by visiting our instant quote page.

Grammar Tips for the Perfect Copy

Whether you are perfecting your academic project or putting the finishing touches to your latest blog, we’ve curated a few pointers for you to use to check everything is as it should be with your grammar and punctuation.

The proofreading process involves scrutiny of spelling, grammar, syntax and punctuation, so these writing and grammar tips are useful for you to know. You can revisit them whenever it comes to creating and proofreading your next piece of content.

Word Choice

This may sound obvious, but just take a moment to think. Do you know exactly what the word being used means? If there are any uncommon words you don’t use regularly, double-check.

How many times have you seen someone online write ‘defiantly’ instead of ‘definitely’? Being defiant and the element of certainty are two very different things. While this may seem like an obvious error to the trained eye, silly spelling errors and different meanings for similar words can appear quite often.

Check also for any minor differences, such as stationery, meaning ‘pens and paper’, or stationary, as in ‘still’.


When writing for academic or formal business purposes, you should be writing in the third person.

If, however, you are writing for something more informal, such as an email, a blog or social post, it would usually make more sense to write in the first person singular, ‘I, me’ or the plural ‘we, us’.

Some confusion can often arise when talking about companies, though.

For example, think of a group of people who come together to work or for a meeting. When referring to this group of people, you would usually say ‘they’, being the third person plural.

The difference comes when referring to a company. Yes, there will probably be more than one person who works for the company, but the company itself is an individual item, such as: ‘Apple has released a new iPhone’. Though it may be tempting to use ‘have’, it is singular.

Interestingly, when referring to football teams, they are plural. Such as ‘Manchester City have won the title’.

Active vs. Passive Voice

The style of voice you write in is dependent on context, and this is one of the grammar tips that you will need to use to evaluate as you go. There is no concrete right or wrong situation in which to apply the passive or active voice, but one usually suits better than the other.

Active voice portrays a strong tone, is clear and focused. It tells what a person or thing does. The passive voice is subtler and, in some contexts, can appear weaker; it explains what is done to something.

Compare these two sentences for effect as an example:

  • The food critic wrote a glowing review of the new menu.
  • A glowing review of the new menu was written by the food critic.

The first is in the active voice, and the second in the passive. Decide which style feels more appropriate for what you are writing. You could even write out a few sentences in both voices to help you to compare which sounds more effective and fitting to the context.

Generally, it reads better to write predominantly in the active voice, unless it is not possible.

Commas vs. Semicolons

Commas can be used in a multitude of ways, from separating items in a list to connecting two clauses of a sentence.

Semicolons can also be used to link two statements which relate to the same thing yet could also stand alone as individual sentences.

Uncertainties can sometimes appear between the two types of punctuation.

For example, when listing items which are single words, you can use commas to separate them. If you are listing more complex phrases which may even contain commas, you may need to use semicolons to break up each part of the list.


Regardless of if you are learning English or a native speaker, the apostrophe can often be a struggle. Sometimes, it can be a case of trial and error to find out which position looks right, and actually is. Here are three quick grammar tips to help you decide where to put the apostrophe in certain circumstances.

  • Possessive: It belongs to the individual
    • Brian’s research, an employee’s timesheet, Rick’s son
    • If the name ends in an ‘-s’, you can either use the apostrophe then ‘-s’ or just the apostrophe, e. James’ car
  • Plural noun: if it ends in an ‘-s’, you can just use the apostrophe, e. the parents’
    • If it does not end in an ‘-s’, use as original, e. the children’s
  • Contractions: depends on the type of contraction
    • If a negative, such as ‘does not’, the apostrophe replaces the ‘o’ from ‘not’.
      Would not = wouldn’t, should not = shouldn’t, will not = won’t
    • If contracting ‘have’ or ‘will’ usually remove the ‘ha-’ or ‘wi-’

They will = they’ll, they have = they’ve, she will = she’ll.

Check With our Grammar Tips

Take time to familiarise yourself with these grammar tips before you start writing and refer to them throughout if you are unsure. If you are the proofreader and someone else has written the document, be vigilant for spellings and punctuation, and keep these tips close for easy reference.

For additional guidance, read through our proofreading guide on common writing errors.

If you would like another opinion on a piece of work, a form of communication or report, obtain an instant quote for our proofreading service today. Our qualified proofreaders can check these points and more in-depth to make sure that the final piece of content you submit is to the best standard it can be.

How to Keep your Content Fresh and Relevant

The key to growing and maintaining an engaged audience is to make sure you post relevant content. As obvious as it may sound, it can be all too easy to get into the routine of sharing the same kinds of information relating to your business, products or what your staff have been up to. While this is great content, there is still the opportunity for you to create content which can piggy-back onto what’s already in discussion at the moment.

For example, imagine you owned a furniture shop and news came out that a celebrity couple had moved in together. You could create an ‘edit’ styled to the celebrity couple, which may be better received by audiences than a generic style suggestion. Relevant content can thrive if you strike while the iron is hot, so to say.

Whether the news of the moment is nationwide or within a very niche industry, if you have the connections and audience, then there will be a reader out there who will appreciate the fresh and relevant content.

Regular Updates

Remember that whatever you are writing about for your website or digital channels, consistency and timing are key. Yes, it is recommended to get involved in discussions and exciting news stories, but alongside this, you need to make sure that you are sharing fresh content regularly.

Regular new posts on a blog, for example, can be identified by search engines and will be part of what contributes to your website’s scoring from the ever-changing algorithms.

Plan a content schedule to factor in brand stories and known events which are scheduled, such as holidays. On top of this, your readers and followers will appreciate and be intrigued by what you have to say with content relating to discussions in wider society or the industry.

Sourcing Relevant Content in Current Affairs

It is relatively easy to keep up with national and regional news through the TV, radio, internet and so on. Current affairs, big news stories and often international news will contain something that brands can tag on to, for which they can create relevant content for the brand and readership.

Remember, not all content needs to be long-form in the style of web pages or blogs.

Sometimes, a simple emoji response in a retweet can have the desired effect. Be creative, but remember, the news is usually quite time-sensitive, and what is big on Monday morning might not be so big by Thursday.

To ensure that any news which is directly relevant to your industry doesn’t slip through the net, you can get up Google alerts for whenever your chosen phrase is mentioned in news articles. This also means that any kind of unusual but relevant content can come straight to your inbox for you to decide whether it is worth shouting about.

Social Media

Social Media is a fantastic platform to find out more about the hot topics of discussion, right when they are happening. From a business perspective, if you are trying to find fresh content to write about and look into, there are top names in many industries active across Twitter and LinkedIn who have plenty to say about a particular subject.


Look up influential figures and top names within your industry and see if they have a Twitter account. Sometimes, these leaders will share their thoughts and opinions on topics in their industry and beyond. Occasionally, there will be a golden nugget of information or a discussion point which you feel needs discussing or explaining.

If you feel like joining the conversation, you could have your say with a response to their Tweets, too!

You can use any key information you find to help you broaden your research, whether it be into the creation of new marketing materials or white papers, or even to start a discussion amongst your own followers.

There is likely to be an abundance of Hashtags linking to Twitter discussions from industry leaders, so have a look through what’s being said and find out people’s perspectives on it. Even just by looking through a couple of these, you can find a wealth of information to work with and stem other ideas from.


On LinkedIn, you can look up hashtags of topics relating to your interests and industries, and follow them. This way, you can keep abreast of activity across the industry and beyond your current connections.

If you particularly enjoy content from a particular person, then you can follow or connect with them. Plus, if you feel like you would like to develop a discussion further, you could then chat with them.

The great thing about LinkedIn is that there are professionals from all levels of endless industries. In fact, by the end of 2018, there were 590 million LinkedIn users worldwide, so whatever the niche area is where you are seeking fresh and relevant content, you are likely to find some, or at least someone to chat to.

Listen to Podcasts

Podcast listening has exploded recently, and with a look through any available podcast library, it is clear to see that people will sit and chat about almost anything. Both in business and just for fun, the better-renowned podcasts often feature guests who are industry experts or well-known.

With this in mind, it may be worth looking for some podcasts which are relevant to your interests, or the industry you work in, and finding out if any big names are guests, or hosting them. You may be pleasantly surprised and come away with a little more insight into topics of interest. Similar to talk shows on the radio, most podcast content is fresh and discusses what is happening in the present, so they are a great tool for sourcing relevant content to power your fresh content strategy,

Thriving with Fresh and Relevant Content

In this blog, we have provided a selection of easy ways to identify new areas to help with the creation of relevant content that your audiences will be better inclined to interact with.

Stand out by reacting as efficiently as possible to news and announcements, and stay on top of new and changing trends to stay at the forefront of the conversation.

If you have any long-form content which you need proofreading fast, at Express Proofreading, we can turn around a document in as little as 6 hours. This way, you can be sure that the content you are sharing is not only fresh but spot on with grammar, spelling and syntax. As much as you need to be keen to get your perspective on the latest news, it is equally important that the quality of your communications doesn’t drop, so obtain an instant proofreading quote today and we can work together to get your content out there fast.

The Benefits of Business Blogging

It is becoming increasingly important to develop a strong web presence in order to engage and communicate with customers. One of the most effective ways to build brand awareness while providing relevant and useful content to your target audience is through consistent business blogging.

Business blogging is quickly becoming an almost mandatory marketing tactic, as companies need to stay active online to compete with similar brands. Benefits of blogging for business come in many elements. Brands can share insight and information to keep customers and prospective clients up to date with interesting news and stories.

If business blogging is executed correctly, a secondary, but just as effective benefit is that SEO-optimised blogs will rank higher on search engines. Not only does this mean that your content is out there, but the higher it ranks in search engine results, the more people it will be exposed to, and in turn, can build awareness of the brand.

Business Blogging and the Brand

The primary motivation toward successful business blogging should be that it is a space to let customers get a little more insight into the brand as a whole.


Whether it be something incredible an employee is doing out of work, some staff treats or events that teams have attended, content which is separate from hard selling of the services offered can present a more friendly and human side to brands.


There is only so much you can cram onto individual pages on the site, so you could consider using the blogs to explore topics related to the wider industry.

While it is good to have some solid content which lasts over time, keeping things relevant to what is going on right now can grab more attention, and educate people. Getting content out there which is brand new to everyone can help to position your brand as an expert.

Is there a new piece of tech which is starting to be used in the industry?

 Have new regulations been put in place? If so, how does this affect how people work?

 Has your company been in the news or industry limelight recently? If it’s with good reason, shout about it!

Relationship Building

Building relationships with clients is sometimes done via email or telephone, and often face to face in many instances, be it in retail, hospitality or B2B.

In many industries, with an increasing number of customers shopping online, a digital relationship is paramount, and these need to be nurtured just as much as a face to face one.

With news announced that UK stores are feeling the pressure as internet shopping hits record highs, this is all the proof we need to motivate us to maximise every aspect of online marketing and relationship management.

As well as the other components of the marketing mix, business blogging gives companies an extra platform to share whatever they believe will excite customers to read and interact with.

Social Sharing

Blogging for business is, of course, very helpful. To encourage people to read the blog, however, there needs to be a presence of the brand across platforms.

Most brands these days will have a presence on at least one social media platform, and so these can be used to share blog posts and articles as and when they are published. Sharing them on platforms like these means that users can interact, react and join in with the conversation, offering their own input.

Quotes can be taken from blogs and posted as a discussion point with a link following through to the blog so that all posts aren’t constantly pushing people to go straight to the blog.

Creativity is key. Make your blog posts interesting and useful. Then, when it comes to social sharing, brainstorm new ways in which you can introduce the blogs and perhaps target new audience segments to read them. The web is your oyster.

Plus, social proof is a metric which the bots trawling the internet will consider when they are ranking your business. The more interaction you have on social media will do more than satisfy a desire for post likes.

SEO and Links

In an ever-more competitive digital landscape, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is key. There is little point in creating content which has no SEO value, as, beyond the web page, it is unlikely to do much.

Keywords are one component of business blogging. Research the search terms people are using, and tailor your content to contain some of these keywords. This means that they can get picked up by search engines, and it is clear to the bot what the article is about.

Links are another component to consider when you are blogging for business, both within the website and to external pages.

The sweet spot, and most valued part of link building, is getting links back to your own site. Yes, it is easy to link to any relevant website from your own but having other brands and businesses link to your website demonstrates to the web crawlers that your brand is trusted.

For further information on SEO, take a look at our SEO guide.

Proofread before Posting

After all your efforts to create a fantastic blog post, it would be a shame to see it published with typos or grammatical errors. Take time to check your documents before sharing them. The value of proofreading your work is huge and doesn’t have to take long!

For help on how to effectively proofread your documents, read our blog. If you would like a professional proofreader to examine your document for you, please get in touch or obtain an instant quote via our site.

We provide high quality academic and business proofreading services, our qualified team can check your documents for any errors in spelling and grammar as well as inconsistencies in syntax.

The Value in Proofreading your Documents

For some, it may seem like a small task which just involves clicking the spellcheck icon once a document has been written or created. In reality, there is much more to it. The repercussions of a lack of proofreading should be enough motivation to effectively proofread all documents going forward.

In this blog, we explore why proofreading is important, as well as the impacts on your business if your documents are not correctly proofread.

What is Proofreading?

Proofreading is the final step which is taken before a document is considered to be ‘complete’. Whether for business purposes or academic assignments proofreading is key to making sure that the information you are communicating is accurate, clear and to the best quality.

The case for making proofreading a necessity for business documents is strong because if any errors slip through the net, they will impact how stakeholders perceive the business. In order to protect the reputation of an organisation or brand, all business communications should be checked thoroughly.

It is one thing to edit a document, and another to proofread it. The editing comes first and looks more at the structure and cohesiveness of the document.

Once everything has been edited, compiled and reviewed, you can then start to proofread. Proofreading is the fine-tuning of any errors in the text, checking for typographical errors in the spelling, grammar and sentence structure. To find out more about the differences, read our Proofreading vs. Copyediting guide.

Why Proofreading is Important

Aside from the obvious benefits of eradicating spelling and grammar mistakes, there really are important reasons to proofread, as it could protect the reputation of your business.

Have you ever been looking through a brochure or received a letter from an organisation which has had a typo in it? Perhaps an email where the subject line hasn’t been updated or something is spelt incorrectly on the website?

Chances are, you have come across something like this at some point. It may have made you think differently about the business, that perhaps they are careless and don’t take the time to make sure everything is perfect. This behaviour could be reflected in the customer service, you may think.

While this is hypothetical, it could be the sort of thing that your customers may feel if they receive a communication from you which contains typographical errors, or the word you typed has autocorrected to something else. Depending on the extremity of the error, even if only to one individual, it could be dangerous.

We know the power of social media. If a customer is not satisfied with something from a business, they will likely share it on social media for all to see. This is the sort of thing that proofreading aims to avoid.

Proofreading is paramount in official business documents, too. For example, with annual reports or financial documents, numbers need to be very carefully checked. Actual figures should be checked in the editing stage to make sure nothing is mistyped, but remembering to use currency symbols where necessary are the sorts of things that nitpickers will look out for.

Having correct spelling and grammar reinforces a level of professionality and knowledge.

For further information, read our guide on common errors to look out for when proofreading.

Impact on Businesses

Aside from the potential negativity on social media, think about the impact on the business and the customers.

A typo could end up changing the entire meaning of a sentence. If you hit a button too fast or your finger slides along to the next one as you move your hand, autocorrect could take over.

While everyone will do their best to make sure all information and content is accurate, it can be almost impossible to create a perfect document the first time without checking it.

Proofreading Communications

For example, think of the different reactions these two, very similar, sentences which could be received by shareholders:

  • Company X has now increased profits by 25% as planned
  • Company X has not increased profits by 25% as planned

There is just one letter different but the personal impact it could have on investors is huge and may ensue a state of panic, if the first statement is actually the one which is true.

The Cost of Inaccurate Information

Something as small as a comma, a hyphen or one inaccurate spelling could be dangerous to your brand. We hope that this blog has highlighted the importance of proofreading.

For some guidance on how to effectively proofread your documents, read our blog. If you would like a professional proofreader to examine your document for you, please feel free to get in touch or obtain an instant quote via our site. We provide high quality academic and business proofreading services, our qualified team can check your documents for any errors in spelling and grammar as well as inconsistencies in syntax.

Rest assured that our team of proofreaders will be thorough in their checks so you can be confident in the business document you are about to share with your stakeholders.

A Quick Guide to Academic Language

Getting the hang of new academic vocabulary can be a bit of a challenge. Lots of words mean similar things, and the slight differences between some words could mean the difference between succeeding in an essay or losing direction.

Each discipline will have its specific terminologies which are special to your field. As far as this goes, it is up to you to get your head around those discipline-specific terms.

What we can do in this blog is to help you with the general essay question terminology. This should mean that when you are faced with a question throughout your academic journey, you can identify which path you are intended to follow.

Common Essay Question Terminology

Here we have listed some typical words used in essay questions and broken down what they mean. Remember that at an academic level, you will need to have evidence to back up every point you make in the argument you present, no matter what the direction of the question is.

It may be something you have been told before every exam you have ever taken, but we cannot stress this enough: Read the Question!

Make sure that with every point you make, you are referring back to the question! Keep the phrasing of the question in mind as you work through the essay so you can ensure you stay on track.

Glossary of Terms

Define: State exactly the nature or meaning of something. If there are any irregularities or problems with the definition, debate them and discuss any other opinions relating to it.

Discuss: Write about the topic, or part of it, in detail while considering different issues or ideas associated with it. This is essentially a debate for and against a statement, coming to a particular conclusion.

Contrast: Focus on the most striking differences between the elements of the question. Find key features which differentiate the points the most and discuss them.

Justify: Give evidence to support the idea in the question. While stating points to reinforce the argument, consider also any important counter-arguments. You will be expected to come to an informed conclusion.

To what extent: Elaborate on the degree to which something is believed to be the case. Give a detailed assessment of the topic with evidence to back up every point, again considering counter-arguments where necessary.

Explore: Inquire into the subject with as much detail as possible, and consider varied stances on the topic, too. Use both sides of your argument to arrive at a conclusion.

Illustrate: Show the way in which you arrived at an opinion or stance in an argument. Evidence and statistics would be helpful here. Don’t draw anything! Think of it similarly to ‘demonstrate’.

Exam Tactics

When you get into the exam, look through all of the questions first. Remember, there could be two parts to a question which are disguised in different sentences.

Read each question carefully and circle the words which relate to how you should answer the question.

Whether you have to answer every question in the booklet or just a few, make sure you look through all of the suitable ones and check what they are asking for. Try to match up the topics you know best with the type of writing you can do best.

Before you dive straight into the answer, try to note down reminders of what you need to include for each side of the argument, or any other relevant information which relates to the question. If you have to contrast, you will require a counter-argument, for example.

Coursework Tactics

If you have more time to write your essay, such as for a piece of coursework rather than an on-the-spot exam question, you have more time to prepare your answer.

You can write an in-depth plan on the route you will take with your essay. You will also have extra time to carefully ensure that each element of the question is answered. Make sure your referencing is up to standard on the essay, too.

Proofreading Your Essays

While in an exam you will be in timed conditions, you should still factor in time to read through your completed essays within the time limit. This will allow you to make sure that you have answered the questions as best you can, and that your spelling and grammar are correct.

With coursework and non-time bound essays, if you would like a second opinion before you submit, you can get in touch with us for an instant quote. As part of our academic proofreading service our professional proofreaders can check your document in detail and fix any spelling, grammar or syntax errors, making it the best it can be.

How to Write a Literature Review

The prospect of having to construct a literature review can be daunting. It involves a lot of reading, analysis and interpretation. The key to constructing and achieving an extensive and insightful literature review is planning. We have collated some top tips on how to write a literature review which clearly lays out a path for informed research.

In most cases, a literature review will be required as part of your dissertation or thesis. Writing a literature review will provide a wealth of information around your research topic and identify any gaps into which you can take your research.

Each discipline and type of research will influence the type of literature review to construct. Research topics can vary massively, even within disciplines, as different niches will apply. If you are unsure, reach out to your tutors and peers.

Now let’s explore these easy to follow steps on how to write a literature review.

Study the Question

By the time it comes to writing a literature review, you should have a research question, or at least a focused research field, decided.

Take apart each word and phrase within the research question. Think about different topics you have studied which relate, even slightly, to these sections of the question. Note them all down.

Brainstorm synonyms or similar phrases relating to the topic of the question. This should provide an initial basis for a list of areas to start your research.

Refer to your Notes

It is likely that your tutors will have recommended certain publications for you to read into. Check back through your notes, lecture slides or reading lists to see which of these publications relate to the subject you will be researching.

Your assessor will appreciate it if you show that you have acknowledged some of the recommended reading. Do not, however, rely just on what you have been given. You will be rewarded for demonstrating further research, so this is why brainstorming alternate words and phrases will help you.

Take Notes While Reading

As you start to explore the literature, whether online or offline, make sure you note the title, author and year. As well as this, note a summary of key points in the article or chapter, and relevant page numbers.

The key points will help you when constructing each point of discussion within the literature review. Noting the author and details of the text will help, both if you need to revisit the document and for referencing purposes.

Whatever you do, don’t get through a load of note-taking without noting where you got it from. Taking these notes will save you a lot of time when it comes to finishing up your project, trust us.

Pulling it Together

Once you have identified your key points from the initial set of texts you have read, you can start to think about how they work together.

Does one complement the other? Are there opposing views? Which research is the most comprehensive? Is the type of data collection appropriate and valid?

These are all points which you can discuss in the literature review. After all, it is a review of the literature. If you feel one type of research was conducted better than another, give reasons and evidence.

Simply stating your own opinion won’t cut it. When backing up your arguments in a literature review, you will need to try and find other research, quotes, facts or other evidence behind your reasoning.

Remember, the reason for writing a literature review is to find missing gaps in research which are yet to be explored, and to define the most effective way to conduct your research.

Identifying Gaps

When writing a literature review, you need to be critical and analytical. At this level of academic writing, it is expected that you have the level of knowledge and curiosity to question everything.

Read through each separate topic of your literature review in the context of your research question. Examine how much of the research directly links to the question, and if there is anything missing or unexplored.

Often at the end of academic journals, authors will analyse their research project and identify areas for future research. If you are looking for further guidance or recommendations to explore when writing a literature review, look out for this. You may find new ideas to explore in your own research.

A Strong Literature Review

When writing a literature review, the more research you have to analyse, the more comprehensive your results will be. Demonstrating that your topic knowledge is broad and deep, your assessor will be able to see that you have a strong basis on which to begin your exploration into the topic through your own research.

A detailed, critical and analytical literature review takes time, patience and effort. Make sure you give yourself enough time to write it, and then check it over to make sure that there are no errors in spelling, facts and figures.

Once you have checked the document over yourself, you may wish to get a second set of eyes to proofread it for you. At Express Proofreading, we provide a comprehensive academic proofreading service. We can provide you with an instant quote and a quick turnaround to make sure that your literature review, and your whole academic project, are word perfect.

Top Tips to Assess the Reliability of Sources for Academic Writing

Evidence provides the backbone of any well-executed piece of academic writing. The more evidence and research you can provide to back up your argument, the better. While a broad selection of academic sources will set you up for a great argument, the quality of this evidence will also be taken into account.

In most cases, a journal article in a renowned publication is likely to be regarded more favourably than an article from a lifestyle magazine, for example.

Why use Sources in Academic Writing

The value of academic sources in your essays, reports and dissertations is just as important to you as it is to the reader or assessor, albeit perhaps in different ways.

Your research will broaden your knowledge on a subject and identify areas for further research. Making sure that you correctly reference all of the research you’ve done when you present your findings will provide a strong argument. It will also demonstrate that you can make well-informed decisions by taking a critical and analytical approach across different arguments and points of view.

In terms of your own academic record and progress, there must be a level of originality. Whichever assessment tools your university, college or training providers use, there are likely to be features which measure similarities with other work. If your submission has too many similarities to already existing publications, you may be accused, or investigated for, plagiarism. This can be taken very seriously, so make sure you honour the people who provided you with the materials for your research in order to cover your own back.

Different Types of Sources for Research

Most of the research you do throughout your education will be either primary or secondary. Primary research is that which you undertake yourself. For example, if you need to conduct interviews, focus groups or surveys to inform the basis for your project, this will be primary research.

Collating Academic Sources

 Secondary research is defined as what others have found through their own primary research. If you find a journal article which discusses an experiment the author undertook, this is secondary research. Most textbooks relating to elements of your research topic will be classed as secondary research, too.

When compiling academic sources for your assignments, especially for a literature review, you will be looking mostly at secondary research.

There are different publications relevant to different fields, such as the Harvard Business Review or the British Medical Journal, for example. Your tutors should be able to suggest some relevant journals and trusted publications to look at when conducting your secondary research.

You can use company reports, government reports and more as sources in your writing, too, although these won’t be academic, as such.

Finding Academic Sources Online

Remember to bear in mind that the internet is a forum where anybody can voice their opinions, regardless of their level of expertise on a topic.

If you use websites to find additional information to back up or counter-argue with the rest of the research, make sure you evaluate whether they are reputable.

Websites which use .gov or .org in their name are governmental organisations, non-profits, trusts and so on. More often than not, these sites can be relied on. Most educational institutions also have an online catalogue of sources for you to explore.

If you come across a blog post which has no signals of authenticity, it may not be valid evidence. Instead, if you find a point you think is worth arguing, see if you can find an academic paper or journal article which evaluates the point.

 Original Writing

 The people assessing your work will be looking for originality and strong points to discuss. Broad research should help you create the basis for a good argument.

Originality is key in academic writing. Combine a unique argument with a great structure that is easy to read, and you will be on the way to a great piece of work.

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