Literature Review vs. Essay.

It is easy to get confused about the difference between literature reviews and essays because these two writing structures can be based on the same research.  However, the main difference is on where the emphasis is placed.

The purpose of an essay is to use what is known about a subject to prove an argument or point of view.  Not all of the knowledge of a topic may be used in an essay, but only what is relevant to the argument.  In an essay, mentioning the people who discovered or developed the knowledge is generally only for referencing purposes.

On the other hand, a literature review is designed to be a critical analysis of all the knowledge that has been discovered about a subject.  Its purpose is to examine all that others have already discovered about the subject and the researchers working on the subject are considered to be key.

At a sentence level, one way to emphasise a particular aspect of a subject is to place that aspect at the beginning of sentences and paragraphs.

In an essay, where the focus is on the knowledge itself, it is put to the front of sentences.  For example:

Playing computer and video games have risen dramatically in popularity.  It is estimated that three billion hours of gaming are played globally each week.  The major reason for this is because players are able to tap into a high level of emotional satisfaction that is difficult to experience in everyday life (McGonigal, 2011).

However, in literature reviews what is considered to be more important are the authors and researchers who found or developed the information.  Therefore they appear at the beginning of sentences.

 Jane McGonigal (2011) estimates that three billion hours of gaming are played globally every week.  Her research suggests that the major reason for this is because players are able to tap into a high level of emotional satisfaction that is difficult to experience in everyday life.

This is not to say that both kinds of sentences can be used in both types of writing.  However, the overall trend for essays is to emphasise the information, whereas for literature reviews the trend is to emphasise the authors.

For more on the differences between the structure of essays and the structure of literature reviews,  check out QUT Cite|Write

Videos for learning


Did you know QUT has a selection of digital information resources that are video collections?

Subject specific video collections are available in a number of subject areas including Education, Nursing, Psychology and Theatre.  A full list with descriptions and access links can be found via the Library’s  Find databases and resources  page Online videos.

Here you will see that in addition to the various individual collections there are three key resources, highlighted due to their relevance to multiple subjects. Particularly useful is the Kanopy streaming videos  collection.

Kanopy Streaming has been specially designed for Australian tertiary education and thus contains videos that are relevant to a range of university courses. The collection is displayed with links to broad content areas of The Arts, Business/Training, Health Sciences, Media/Communications, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences and Teacher Education.

Use the browse function to view and select from a comprehensive list of subject headings in each area. Alternatively you can find individual titles using the search function. If you wish to create a playlist or create a clip to use later, see this help guide.  Clip making & playlist instructions

Referencing a Chapter in an Edited Book

You might have noticed that some of your textbooks, particularly the bigger ones, will have an editor, or editors, and different authors for each of the chapters or sections. When it comes to referencing these, you need to put the chapter author in your in-text citation, but both the editor(s) & the chapter author(s) in your reference list.

For example:

QUT APA: Honan, E. (2010) Literacies. In D. Pendergast & N. Bahr (Eds.) Teaching middle years: Rethinking curriculum, pedagogy and assessment (2nd Ed.) (pp.139-154). Crows Nest NSW.: Allen & Unwin.
QUT Harvard: Honan, E. 2010. “Literacies.” In Teaching middle years: Rethinking curriculum, pedagogy and assessment. 2nd ed. edited by Donna Pendergast & Nan Bahr, 139-154. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin.

How to know if the book is edited or not? The editors are usually clearly identified on the front cover and title pages. You can also check the table of contents to see if different authors are listed for different chapters.

There is a specific example in CiteWrite for referencing a chapter in an edited book. This can be found in the Book tab.

Things to remember:

  • If the editors and authors of a particular chapter are the same, use the name twice;
  • If you use different chapters from the same book, treat them as separate sources, and list them separately in your Reference List;
  • You only need to use this format if the particular chapter is written by (a) different author(s). If the book has the one author, or multiple authors, but not for each chapter, just reference it as a book, even if you’ve only used information from one specific chapter – page numbers should point your reader to the information.

As always, check CiteWrite first, and if you’re still in doubt, ask at the Library’s Learning & Research Desk.

Submitting assignments via Assignment Minder

At Caboolture Campus Assignment Minder is located in the library at the Learning and Research Desk.

During semester at Caboolture Assignment Minder opening hours are 8am – 6.45pm Monday to Friday  &  9am – 3.45pm Saturdays.

For the printing of Assignment Minder cover sheets, you can access your personalised Assignment Minder via QUT Virtual or Blackboard. You are able to submit your assignments at any campus as we have couriers collecting from & delivering to us 3 times@week.

You are however only able to collect marked assignments from your home campus, and for this you need to present your student card. If you are not able to collect an assignment in person, you may nominate another person via the proxy form available on your Assignment Minder. They will need your student number to do so, and we can check for the proxy form at our end.

Remember to attach your Assignment Minder cover sheet for the assessment to the front of your wallet folder. An Assignment Minder cover sheet is always required for submission to be successful. For some assignments you may also be required to attach a faculty cover sheet to the front of your actual assignment…check the requirements of your assessment for further clarification on faculty cover sheets.

Happy submitting, hope this helps!

Need some extra help with getting assignments underway? What about trying Study Solutions?

The Learning and Research Desk is a great place to come when you’re looking for help , but if you think you might need some extra assistance with your study, Study Solutions might be exactly what you’re looking for!

Study Solutions is a free service where you can receive individual assistance from experienced staff who will work with you on your academic study issues.

Bring your assignment topic, project task or study challenge…solve tricky referencing, find the best information sources for your assignments,  write more effectively,manage your time better, prepare well for exams… or simply get better grades. However, there is one thing library staff won’t do and that is proofread your entire assignment.  What we will do, though, is help you to develop the skills to edit and proofread your assignments yourself.

Study Solutions is available at all branches of QUT Library.  To register for your free appointment, Book now or enquire at the Learning and Research Desk.

For extra study and research resources, visit  Studywell

Gruen Transfer goes Global: international market research reports

If you’re researching Asia parenting styles,  city living in China, the impact of technology on Children, Indian real estate trends or the clothing industry in Brazil then Passport GMID has the report for you.

Passport GMID is a fascinating database of international market research on consumer trends. It includes a country pulse section, should you want to know what’s the latest consumer trends in the United States or Vietnam.

It’s also a good way to get a grip on what’s happening in finance & economics but written and presented in a clear and accessible way. Not only essential for assignments but an excellent way to keep informed with the real data and facts behind the news.

An important user tip is to check out the excellent video tutorials to be found from the “Help” menu on the black bar.

Passport GMID can be accessed from here:

Essay Structure – Getting it Right

There are many things to think about when you begin to write your assignment: you need to answer the question, you need to make sure you’ve got the right content, and of course, that pesky referencing needs to be spot on.

But something else that is equally, if not more, essential is to any good quality academic essay is the structure. Your essay or assignment needs to follow a logical structure, with well-developed paragraphs that are clearly organized and flow on from one another in an easy-to-understand manner.

In essence, the basic structure for an essay is shaped like a diamond, and has an Introduction, Body & Conclusion.

An Introduction :

  • Introduces the topic
  • States the thesis (main point of the assignment)
  • Outlines the structure of the assignment (main point of each body paragraph / section
  • Defines the scope (limits) of the assignment

Body paragraphs can be treated as mini-essays, and should only contain a single idea or theme. Each body paragraph should have the following elements:

  • Topic sentence – States the main point of the paragraph and links it with the thesis.
  • Supporting sentences – May add information to the main point.  For example, define terms or explain concepts
  • Evidence sentences – Examples, data, statistics, quotes which back up the point.  These must be cited and referenced
  • Concluding sentence – Restates the point and provides a link to the next paragraph.

A Conclusion:

  • Paraphrases the thesis
  • Sums up the main points of the body paragraphs
  • Does not include any new material
  • Concludes strongly

While the exact layout and structure of your essay may vary depending on what type of essay you are being asked to write, the structure will generally always remain consistent. For examples of different types of essays, check out CiteWrite.

Don’t forget to visit Studywell for more information about essay structure and academic writing and if in doubt, come and ask us at the Learning & Research Desk.