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Physics projects for Y3 and Y4 students

Literature review

Literature review

Marking scheme

10%Introduction to topic and statement of major research question to be addressed
5%Overview of basic physics and underlying theory
20%Focus, relevance and completeness of the literature review in relation to the research question
15%Critical review of the literature addressing the research question
10%Discussion of issues not sufficiently covered in the existing literature in the field
10%Quality, quantity and relevance of references
5%Independent work on literature searches
10%Overall clarity of presentation and balance of contents
10%Style of report: easy to read, grammar, spelling, conciseness
5%Quality and relevance of illustrative diagrams

The literature review is a written essay summarising the literature of your field as a backdrop to your own project. To stand on the shoulders of giants, we need to know the giants first! The review is due towards the end of sem.1 for most students. Joint students on ph356 hand theirs in together with a project plan after week 3 of semester 2. Svalbarders on phm59 just include it in their final report.

Begin with a short introduction to your own project, indicating the basic question to be addressed, and giving an overview of the methodology envisaged. Then follow this up with a detailed discussion of the literature regarding the background physics, potential applications, similar and alternative methodologies. You will have identified relevant papers and categorised them during your search, and a few more will have popped up as references while you were reading them.

Avoid verbatim quotes from papers. In science, it is common practice to paraphrase the content of another publication and provide its reference for further reading. You provide added value to your reader over and above the content of the individual papers by pointing out the connections between them and interpreting the development of ideas over time. For this reason, it is important that your text is a coherent narrative drawing on the individual references where needed rather than an itemised list of summaries of individual papers.

Aim for around 2500 words for the literature review including introduction, but excluding references. More guidance about referencing literature is contained in our guide for writing a good report or paper.

You should include your literature review in your final report as a separate chapter for completeness, but of course it will not be marked again at the end of the year. Sandwich it between the introduction to your final report and the description of your experimental procedure. If you have additional literature to cite which you've only encountered after you've written the literature review, add another chapter titled additional literature after the original review and before you move on to your experimental chapter.

Content updated: ruw/100702