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This Category:   PostgraduateForum.com > Writing up / Vivas


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Is it worth including literature that isn’t very good in literature review?


User: Jane92 - 02 February 2018 03:03

Hi,

I’m currently doing a lot of reading before I start the mammoth task of starting my literature review.

However, I’ve come across some books/academics that are clearly retarded - their work is shoddy and makes no sense. Their arguments are poor and very simplistic, and sometimes very sexist. I get angry just reading some of their work.

My dilemma is - Is it worth actually noting these in my literature review? I essentially will only be putting them in there to show what rubbish has been written on my subject area. I know a review is in part a huge critique of the work.. but I’m just torn as I’d rather have more scholarly and worth while texts in my PhD.

Thank you!

User: Englishlit92 - 02 February 2018 12:42

Hey,

Personally, I think it depends on the work in question. If it is the work of say a theorist who is quite renowned, or has done quite a bit of work in that chosen field, I'd say it's fine to use it. One of the main things your supervisors will want is for you to demonstrate why your own research is independent and worth pursuing, so you would need to compare it to someone's work which you will either deploy or depart from.

However, if it is just some random work you've found which has no academic relevance then I wouldn't use it. Your supervisors are bound to question your sources, and if it is someone who doesn't offer anything intellectual then it will more than likely not be accepted. I'd definitely stick to more scholarly sources.

User: Thesisfun - 02 February 2018 13:27


However, I’ve come across some books/academics that are clearly retarded - their work is shoddy and makes no sense. Their arguments are poor and very simplistic, and sometimes very sexist. I get angry just reading some of their work.

It worries me that the basis of your critical appraisal of the literature is that the author was "retarded."

User: chickpea - 02 February 2018 13:36

Quote From Thesisfun:

However, I’ve come across some books/academics that are clearly retarded - their work is shoddy and makes no sense. Their arguments are poor and very simplistic, and sometimes very sexist. I get angry just reading some of their work.

It worries me that the basis of your critical appraisal of the literature is that the author was "retarded."

I was just going to post something similar - 'retarded' is a dated and offensive term.

User: Jane92 - 03 February 2018 00:10

Apologies, I meant no offence - I wasn't in a very good frame of mind yesterday. On reflection, I know I shouldn't have written that.

Englishlit92 - thank you for your advice, i'm going to follow it as I don't want to waste my time reading poor texts.

User: pm133 - 03 February 2018 01:58

Quote From Jane92:
Apologies, I meant no offence - I wasn't in a very good frame of mind yesterday. On reflection, I know I shouldn't have written that.

Englishlit92 - thank you for your advice, i'm going to follow it as I don't want to waste my time reading poor texts.

An apology isn't needed and it's very frustrating that we live in times where people waste time and energy on such nonsense. Just speak your mind and be prepared to be challenged.

What is more important to point out though is that regardless of the words you used (which are completely irrelevant), you demonstrated the depressingly and increasingly common problem of taking offence at the words of others - in this case the academics.
By calling them "retarded" you simply become as bad as the people you are critiquing.
This is a maturity thing. In my opinion, it is a far worse "sin" to take offence at people's words than it is to utter those words in the first place regardless of what those words were. Offence cannot be given. It can only be taken. And those who take really need to get a life :-D

My advice would be more generally to stop getting offended by the words of others and either challenge their views or ignore them. I like to discourage screaming and ranting amongst fellow academics as a way of responding to viewpoints :-D

User: chickpea - 03 February 2018 11:00

As someone who has worked with groups of people who are socially excluded for reasons including mental health issues and learning disabilities, I believe it's very important to challenge incidences like the inappropriate use of 'retarded'. The language we use about vulnerable groups does affect their perception and treatment in society, and I am glad Jane92 reflected on this after posting.

User: pm133 - 03 February 2018 13:23

Quote From chickpea:
As someone who has worked with groups of people who are socially excluded for reasons including mental health issues and learning disabilities, I believe it's very important to challenge incidences like the inappropriate use of 'retarded'. The language we use about vulnerable groups does affect their perception and treatment in society, and I am glad Jane92 reflected on this after posting.

The problem with this sort of politically correct thinking is that it doesn't tackle the root problem. It attacks the symptom and ignores the underlying cause, breeding resentment in the wider population and what you end up with is someone like Trump becoming President as a way of people fighting back.

It also regards and treats people who are socially isolated in the manner you describe above as victims.

I don't see how this helps anyone. How can it possibly make any difference if someone uses the word "retarded" or simply thinks someone is "retarded"? You are simply not going to stop people thinking in this way by challenging their words. Discrimination comes from actions not words. You don't discriminate against a disabled person by calling them a retard. You discriminate against them by refusing to include them in your social group or denying them work opportunities etc. You don't discriminate against a woman by talking about how she dresses. You discriminate by denying her jobs. By conflating words with action you deny anyone the chance to properly solve the problem because you deny the chance to have an open conversation about it through an exchange of ideas (however intolerant or repugnant those ideas may be). In my opinion, denying people the right to openly talk about whatever they want and teating people like victims, is worse than actual discrimination because it actively prevents a solution. Who put you or anyone else in charge of what are acceptable words?

In my opinion you have no right to be offended on behalf of someone else or another group. None whatsoever. Regardless of whether you work with them or not. It really is not your place.

User: chickpea - 03 February 2018 17:02

If anyone has the energy to enter into this decades-old debate with pm133, you're a better person than I am.

User: Thesisfun - 03 February 2018 17:44

Reading pm133's post reminded me of the OP's statement about shoddy work and poor, simplistic arguments.

User: Meep - 03 February 2018 19:52

I think if you do a search to see whether these authors have been cited by others, and try to work out whether they have been the cause of any debate in your field, then you will know more about how to progress. In my field, the literature review has an emphasis on REVIEW, not literature, if that makes sense. That means that if the source is SIGNIFICANT, it gets included, if not, it is minor and doesn't make it... My literature review needs to be analytical, selective and synthesised at the end, while of course also not being biased or superficial. I think that if other scholars have engaged with these authors, then either you should too, or you should have a good reason which you make explicit of why not to. I'm also of the mind that you could do a 50 word summary for your own records of these less than ideal sources with a reason for rejection at the bottom. This will help you later if you change your mind, gives you an overview over the material you have encountered, it might give you a basis for snowballing some references, and when you get to the period before your viva, you can review these too, and be ready for any questions challenging why these authors were largely excluded from your review.

User: chaotic1328 - 03 February 2018 21:21

Words have power. The way the discourse is being conducted can shape our outlook of the world, hence it is never acceptable to use discriminatory terms, that is of course, unless we wish to be discriminatory.





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