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Literature Topics and Research

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This handout provides examples and description about writing papers in literature. It discusses research topics, how to begin to research, how to use information, and formatting.

What kinds of topics are good ones?

The best topics are ones that originate out of your own reading of a work of literature, but here are some common approaches to consider:

How do I start research?

Once you have decided on an interesting topic and work (or works), the best place to start is probably the Internet. Here you can usually find basic biographical data on authors, brief summaries of works, possibly some rudimentary analyses, and even bibliographies of sources related to your topic.

The Internet, however, rarely offers serious direct scholarship; you will have to use sources found in the library, sources like journal articles and scholarly books, to get information that you can use to build your own scholarship-your literary paper. Consult the library's on-line catalog and the MLA Periodical Index. Avoid citing dictionary or encyclopedic sources in your final paper.

How do I use the information I find?

The secondary sources you find are only to be used as an aid. Your thoughts should make up most of the essay. As you develop your thesis, you will bring in the ideas of the scholars to back up what you have already said.

For example, say you are arguing that Huck Finn is a Christ figure ; that's your basic thesis. You give evidence from the novel that allows this reading, and then, at the right place, you might say the following, a paraphrase:

According to Susan Thomas, Huck sacrifices himself because he wants to set Jim free (129).

If the scholar states an important idea in a memorable way, use a direct quote.

"Huck's altruism and feelings of compassion for Jim force him to surrender to the danger" (Thomas 129).

Either way, you will then link that idea to your thesis.


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Literary research essay

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Purpose: Like a reader response essay, the ultimate purpose of a literary research essay is to enrich both the reader’s and writer’s understanding and appreciation of the literary text. Through careful evaluation of both primary and secondary sources, an author of a literary research essay can argue for a new way to read a text, bringing fresh ideas and original discourse to the academic conversation.

Researching and reading other critics’ opinions should expand one’s ideas, not serve as a substitute for ideas. One could think of a critic as merely another reader of the same text, with his/her own ideas that merit consideration.

A successful literary research essay: Demonstrates a clear understanding of the literary text Presents an insightful observation about the text Supports the observation with details from the text

Applies knowledge of literary elements to an analysis of the text (especially theme) Incorporates and evaluates the opinions of other readers of the text (secondary sources) Requirements: Analyze one or more of the stories from this unit – you may include outside literature, current events, or other examples, too – but analyzing literature is a requirement.

Write about literature in present tense and in third person (avoid 2nd person entirely). Include sufficient support from primary (the short stories or films) and secondary texts (research, critical essays). Incorporate at least two quotations from each primary source and at least one quotation from each secondary source. Research the literature in the TCC library and on TCC library’s databases, selecting at least 5 sources to use in your essay: 3 must be literary criticism, 1 will be the primary source, and 1 is your choice. Incorporate and explain all quotations used. Use MLA format (8th edition) for documentation of sources and paper format (works cited page and in-text or parenthetical citations).

Write an essay of at least 1000 words. Possible Essay Topics (not required to use one of these): Is violence ever an acceptable response to a crime? When might resorting to violence be appropriate, if ever? Give specific examples from the literature to support your argument.

People often assume that the guilty pay in some way for their misdeeds. Consider the stories in this unit. Are there some victims who are innocent? Some villains who are unpunished? Could some characters be considered both innocent and guilty? Can a character’s motives excuse a crime? Analyze one or more characters from the stories in this unit to explain his/her guilt or innocence. We value a fair justice system.

However, justice is not always a simple concept. Do the stories in this unit represent fair punishments? Argue if the criminals deserve their fate or if the punishment does not fit the crime and explain why or why not. Consider Sherlock Holmes and/or Sam Spade. They were both products of their time and place; their stories identify elements of the social structure and values of their cultures. Pick a modern detective and analyze the values/structure of our society and compare to SS or SH. Process: Identify possible topic, important themes

Reread the literary selection(s) – the primary text(s) Analyze the significant elements of the primary text(s) Consider the effect of specific literary elements (theme, imagery, metaphor, simile, personification, mood, verisimilitude, hyperbole, etc…) Synthesize your conclusions Find literary criticism (secondary sources) about the stories/poems in the databases (I recommend the Gale database to begin) Assess the value of the critics’ arguments Construct a working works cited page

Create an original thesis, an argument Integrate quotations from the primary text to support your thesis Select passages from the criticism to paraphrase or quote in your essay Prepare analytical comments to follow each primary and secondary reference Compose the essay, organizing your ideas Revise and proofread the essay Resources: Using Quotations Effectively Literature Research Essay Rubric.doc Sample student essay.pdf Sample Essay – Sherlock Essay.pdf Sample Research Paper – Final Draft.pdf Link to Writing about Literature resource Tips for Drafting an Essay Video for help logging into TCC databases

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Essay Structure

Writing an academic essay means fashioning a coherent set of ideas into an argument. Because essays are essentially linear—they offer one idea at a time—they must present their ideas in the order that makes most sense to a reader. Successfully structuring an essay means attending to a reader's logic.

The focus of such an essay predicts its structure. It dictates the information readers need to know and the order in which they need to receive it. Thus your essay's structure is necessarily unique to the main claim you're making. Although there are guidelines for constructing certain classic essay types (e.g., comparative analysis), there are no set formula.

Answering Questions:  The Parts of an Essay

A typical essay contains many different kinds of information, often located in specialized parts or sections. Even short essays perform several different operations: introducing the argument, analyzing data, raising counterarguments, concluding. Introductions and conclusions have fixed places, but other parts don't. Counterargument, for example, may appear within a paragraph, as a free-standing section, as part of the beginning, or before the ending. Background material (historical context or biographical information, a summary of relevant theory or criticism, the definition of a key term) often appears at the beginning of the essay, between the introduction and the first analytical section, but might also appear near the beginning of the specific section to which it's relevant.

It's helpful to think of the different essay sections as answering a series of questions your reader might ask when encountering your thesis. (Readers should have questions. If they don't, your thesis is most likely simply an observation of fact, not an arguable claim.)

"What?"   The first question to anticipate from a reader is "what": What evidence shows that the phenomenon described by your thesis is true? To answer the question you must examine your evidence, thus demonstrating the truth of your claim. This "what" or "demonstration" section comes early in the essay, often directly after the introduction. Since you're essentially reporting what you've observed, this is the part you might have most to say about when you first start writing. But be forewarned: it shouldn't take up much more than a third (often much less) of your finished essay. If it does, the essay will lack balance and may read as mere summary or description.

"How?"   A reader will also want to know whether the claims of the thesis are true in all cases. The corresponding question is "how": How does the thesis stand up to the challenge of a counterargument? How does the introduction of new material—a new way of looking at the evidence, another set of sources—affect the claims you're making? Typically, an essay will include at least one "how" section. (Call it "complication" since you're responding to a reader's complicating questions.) This section usually comes after the "what," but keep in mind that an essay may complicate its argument several times depending on its length, and that counterargument alone may appear just about anywhere in an essay.

"Why?"   Your reader will also want to know what's at stake in your claim: Why does your interpretation of a phenomenon matter to anyone beside you? This question addresses the larger implications of your thesis. It allows your readers to understand your essay within a larger context. In answering "why", your essay explains its own significance. Although you might gesture at this question in your introduction, the fullest answer to it properly belongs at your essay's end. If you leave it out, your readers will experience your essay as unfinished—or, worse, as pointless or insular.

Mapping an Essay

Structuring your essay according to a reader's logic means examining your thesis and anticipating what a reader needs to know, and in what sequence, in order to grasp and be convinced by your argument as it unfolds. The easiest way to do this is to map the essay's ideas via a written narrative. Such an account will give you a preliminary record of your ideas, and will allow you to remind yourself at every turn of the reader's needs in understanding your idea.

Essay maps ask you to predict where your reader will expect background information, counterargument, close analysis of a primary source, or a turn to secondary source material. Essay maps are not concerned with paragraphs so much as with sections of an essay. They anticipate the major argumentative moves you expect your essay to make. Try making your map like this:

Your map should naturally take you through some preliminary answers to the basic questions of what, how, and why. It is not a contract, though—the order in which the ideas appear is not a rigid one. Essay maps are flexible; they evolve with your ideas.

Signs of Trouble  

A common structural flaw in college essays is the "walk-through" (also labeled "summary" or "description"). Walk-through essays follow the structure of their sources rather than establishing their own. Such essays generally have a descriptive thesis rather than an argumentative one. Be wary of paragraph openers that lead off with "time" words ("first," "next," "after," "then") or "listing" words ("also," "another," "in addition"). Although they don't always signal trouble, these paragraph openers often indicate that an essay's thesis and structure need work: they suggest that the essay simply reproduces the chronology of the source text (in the case of time words: first this happens, then that, and afterwards another thing . . . ) or simply lists example after example ("In addition, the use of color indicates another way that the painting differentiates between good and evil").

Copyright 2000, Elizabeth Abrams, for the Writing Center at Harvard University

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literary research essay

How to Write a Literary Analysis Essay

10 May 2021

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❓What is a literary analysis essay?

📑What literature essays include?

✍️How to write a title and introduction?

✒️How to write a body paragraph?

📝How to write a conclusion?

✅Literary Analysis Essay Tips

In order to write an essay, you need the plan to adhere to the correct structure and composition. When the idea of ​​writing appears in your head, write it because inspiration is fleeting. It may seem that a literary essay is much more difficult to write than any other type, but with our advice, you will surely succeed. So, how to write a literary analysis essay?

What is a literary analysis essay and what is its purpose?

The purpose of a literature essay analysis is to evaluate and examine a particular literary work or some aspect of it. It describes the main topic or idea of the book you have read. You need a strong thesis statement, and you always have to make a proper literary analysis outline.

This can be achieved by breaking the work down into composite analyses. In order to better understand a particular literary work, it is necessary to study its main elements. And in different genres of literature, you will refer to different schemes. For example, in the analysis of the poem, you will touch upon various types of paintings in the poem or the relationship of the content and form of the work. When analysing the play, you can revise the whole plot and describe its analysis or, for example, study the main tragic hero, his shortcomings or advantages that will be visible in his development along with the text.

How to start a literary analysis? When you just read a book, it draws more attention to your own emotions and experiences that provide the pleasure of reading. But while writing a literary analysis essay, the main thing is to consider these points:

Writing is a pointed, focused expression of thought and study. When you develop in writing, then along with this, your perception of the world develops and your critical thinking and analysis skills improve. You develop creative thinking and ideas because without them there would be no writing. The main goal in a literary and analytical essay is to appeal to the reader in such a way that he sees what position you hold and goes over to your side. There must be concrete development, the writing of the text must be decisive and has no right to stumble.

As you can see, control, structure, and adherence to the rules for writing an essay are important. The first thing you need to find is the main idea. In other words, a thesis in which there should be several paragraphs. This is necessary in order to show the gradation of thought: how thoughts grow and develop from one central idea. You must do everything to develop the thesis and to convey your main idea to the reader. Ideally, the reader would be inclined to accept your idea correctly and be on your side.

Here are the basic principles of this essay:

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What must literature essays include?

The main thing here is to avoid having to write all the thoughts that come to your mind after reading the book. Always stick to the structure.

✏️Examples of literary analysis:

In “A Worn Way”, the author Eudora Welty creates a fictional character, Phoenix Jackson, who collects traits such as determination, faith, and cunning to illustrate the indestructible human spirit.

This is a very strong thesis because everything is collected here: the work itself and its author are indicated, and character as well to be analyzed. The emphasis here is on the word "creates." Because here the author of the work will explore the character of the hero and his main characteristics. This element emphasizes what the hero’s analysis will be based on created determination, faith, and cunning.

✏️Other examples of literary analysis:

The image and character of the Nurses in Romeo and Juliet envelops the main character - Juliet - with warmth, joy, and wit, but at the same time helps the reader realize the tragic catastrophe.

The works of poets such as Rumi, Hafiz and Kabir use such strong emotional symbols as the lover's longing and the destroyed inn, which demonstrate the desire of a person (his soul) to reunite with the Creator.

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How to Write a Title and Introduction to a Literature Essay?

A proper literary analysis essay would require you to have the following:

How to write literary analysis paper title

Before you think of choosing a title, you need to read the given literature carefully, as your title must highlight the content of the literature. Aside from that, it normally comprises the author's name and the texts you are evaluating. However, you will need to make it as brief and interactive as you can.

Additionally, the usual way of writing a literature essay title is to make use of a significant phrase from the given literature. Afterward, include a colon, followed by the remaining parts of your chosen title. Although finding a proper title might seem a bit difficult initially, it will get more straightforward as you continue your analysis.

How to write an introduction for a literary analysis essay

After choosing an appropriate title for your literary analysis, a well-structured intro should be your first paragraph. Writing an introduction for a literary analysis essay gives an instant outline of the areas your argument is concentrated on. Therefore, you must write your introduction creatively to get the attention of anyone reading it. Don't use too many transition words! Write a literary analysis that is fun to read.

The normal procedure of writing an introduction for your literary analysis essay outline is to start with brief facts about the author and the literature. These provided facts would be instrumental in presenting the rest of your essay.

In addition, you can mention a frequently discussed point in the literature and indicate how your thesis will dispute it. Aside from that, you can choose to briefly discuss a specific phrase your essay is based on.

Afterward, you can finish writing the introduction to a literary analysis essay with a clue about the content of the essay's body. This style of writing is known as signal posting. Signal posting should be done more elaborately while writing longer literary essays. However, it shouldn't be multiple sentences in a 5 paragraph structured essay.

If you are facing a time crunch and need assistance with writing your literary essay, there is an  online essay service that can help you. PapersOwl has been providing expert help to countless students with their literary essays for many years. Their team of professional writers is highly qualified and experienced, ensuring that you receive top-quality work. With PapersOwl's assistance, you can rest assured that your literary essay will be well-written and thoroughly analyzed.

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How to Write a Body Paragraph for a Literature Essay?

The body of a literature essay is all that is within the literary analysis essay introduction and its conclusion. It comprises your thesis and the textual evidence that backs them. There are some factors you need to consider on how to start off a literary analysis essay while writing. These factors are as follows:

Paragraph Structure

Normally in high schools, the structure of a literary essay comprises 5 paragraphs. One of the paragraphs is used in writing the introduction, 3 paragraphs for the body, and the remaining paragraph for the conclusion.

In the main body of the essay, every paragraph must concentrate on a topic. While writing a five-paragraph structured essay, you need to split your thesis into 3 major topics of analysis connected to your essay. You need not write all the points derivable from the literature but just the analysis that backs your thesis.

You don't need to think too deeply about how to write a literary analysis thesis extensively as it is similar to a short 5-paragraph thesis. For instance, the main body of your essay might consist of 2 or 3 paragraphs, with each of the paragraphs with multiple paragraphs.

Topic Sentences

You must utilize a topic sentence while starting every paragraph to maintain the focus of your points. Using a proper topic sentence would allow every person to understand the content of your paragraph at a glance.

Utilizing Textual Evidence

One of the vital parts of doing a literary analysis is to support your thesis statement with fitting textual evidence. Using textual evidence involves bringing in clauses from the literature you are analyzing and describing their relevance to your dispute.

Additionally, you must interpret every clause you state in the essay and state the reasons you chose to use them. Your chosen clauses must be well introduced and examined to convince the professor.

Applying clauses from the literature to your essay is not required often, although it is effective while analyzing the author's language. However, at times you might need to discuss plot topics or structural factors that are impossible to capture in a brief clause.

In such situations, rephrasing or summarizing parts of the literature is the right thing to do. In other words, you will need to discuss the significant parts of the texts in your way.

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How to Write a Conclusion for a Literature Essay?

While writing a conclusion of your essay, it should be about putting the finishing touches on your essay. In this section, all you need to do is to rephrase your aforementioned main points and try to make them clearer to the person who reads it.

Additionally, one of the best ways to go about this is to summarize your disputes and then discuss the conclusion they brought about. You should visit the write my essay for me portal if you don't understand how to write a conclusion for a literary analysis. At the aforementioned portal, you are guaranteed to have your analysis done by expert writers ahead of your deadline. 

Note that while working on your conclusion, you do not need to discuss any disputes or points you did not discuss previously in your analysis.

Create a summary of your text

Literary analysis essay tips to use.

There are a lot of things you need to know when crafting a literary analysis paper. But there are a few tips that can make a massive difference. These will help you start writing in no time, form proper body paragraphs and include all literary elements your paper needs. When you cover all major points and structural elements, you can look at the best grade, which is something you want. Even the best writers have been using the same tips!

Literary analysis is complicated. Before you even start, you will need to read the novel, story or etc. You will need to understand it as well. A good literary analysis is only possible if you know and understand the topic. Yes, you need theoretical knowledge as well, and you need to get the main ideas at this point. How you can create a book report or a book review if you don't understand the masterpiece?

Collect all the pieces of evidence you can. These are key points, and a core argument can make a massive difference. This is the same as with other research paper stories you have. A specific character, work's structure, and third-person narrator are all some of the facts you need to pay attention to.

Here we must add that you have to gather contradictory evidence as well! Even one sentence can be important. In a short story, this is harder to find but still present.

Try this tip as soon as you are done reading. You will want to write down dramatic irony, confusing facts, the main point of the book, interesting things, and all the rest that might be needed during the next steps. One aspect here is to form a list of all the things you have discovered. One idea can be to try and clarify all the facts.

A thesis statement must be debatable. What this means is that you cannot use a fact for this purpose. Literary analysis essay must be open for debate, and as such, you need to make your academic assignment open for discussion.

Maybe other students have a different opinion. Your analysis aims towards creating your own opinion and defending it. You can start with this in the first sentence, and you can use figurative language or narrative voice.

At this time, you should have arguments and evidence. Now you have to organize them. Literary analysis implies that you have covered all the arguments. Different analyze literature techniques will allow you to try different things. But, always start with the strongest argument. Provide strong evidence, then.

Once you are done with the literary analysis introduction and the first argument, you can proceed to the next one. All of this means that the critical analysis was successful, and you understood the main goal. This is author's opinion of you, so keep that in mind as well. You need to present a new perspective and try to cover different scenes main themes and an appealing introductory paragraph.

No matter which literary techniques you are using, start with the draft. This will be a preview of your work. If you have made a mistake with the last paragraph, three paragraphs or even a single sentence long section mistake, you can correct them. Try all of this as first-person narrator and check analysis essay before you proceed.

Odds are high that you have made a single mistake. Now you can correct all of them. Maybe some arguments will look better in a different part of the paper. Perhaps the supernatural forces arguments you have used should be explained in detail. Refine the paper, and you will see the difference.

Readers understand that your paper was tough. But this doesn't mean you can make a mistake. The only thing you can do to remedy this is to proofread the five paragraph essay and correct any issues. Even if you use all literary devices, you still have to proofread it.

The literary analysis step by step guide will tell you that you can start with the main section. Once you are done with the final paragraph, you can go to the beginning and write it. You can use this on other essay tasks as well. Why? Because you will have a much better grasp in the end than in the beginning.

Now when you have an original thesis, have used literary criticism properly, and used narrative voice alongside different literary devices, you need to do one thing more. Ask a friend or even a family member to read it. Most of the time, they can find a mistake in the three paragraphs or how characters speak. Once you correct analysis essay, you can get a better grade!

Final Thoughts

Educational institutions use literary analysis essays to improve the learning abilities of students. Although it might seem complex, with the basic knowledge of how to go about it and the help of experts, you won't find it difficult.

Creating a proper literary analysis essay requires you to know how to choose a title and an appropriate introduction. Besides that, you also need to know the appropriate manner of crafting a body for short or longer essays. Aside from that, you must learn how to write a fitting conclusion for your analysis.

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literary research essay

100 Best Literature Research Paper Topics For Students

literary research paper topics

Literary research paper topics are among the most interesting to write about. Books are the best teachers for most learners. And, students love reading interesting literature books. But, when asked to write research papers, most students have difficulties choosing their topics. That’s because many issues can be investigated and written about.

For instance, literary topics can be about characters’ personalities in certain works. They can also be about particular characteristics of specific literary genres. Learners can also choose literary analysis topics that focus on the life story of famous writers or poets. But, regardless of what a learner opts to write about, they should choose interesting topics.

What are Interesting Literary Research Paper Topics?

Several factors make a topic interesting to write about. A topic for a research paper or a graduate thesis should generally be definite, specific, and innovative. Also, it should be interesting to research and write about. Here’s how to select interesting literature topics:

Think about something. Explore the idea to select a topic for which you can find sufficient research data from credible sources. Narrow down your subject if you find it too broad.

English literature topics can be classified into different categories. Here some of these categories and topics can be considered in each category.

Great World Literature Research Topics

Perhaps, you’ve been asked to write a literature research paper with a global perspective. Here are some of the literary analysis research paper topics that you can consider.

Top Literary topics for Research Paper

Some topics for literary analysis stand out among students. These are topics that educators recommend for students across the study levels.

These can also be great literary debate topics. That’s because learners can have varying opinions about them.

British Literature Research Paper Topics

Students have many topics to choose from when it comes to British literature essay topics. Here are some of the best literature topics from the works of British authors.

American Literature Topics

Some teachers ask students to choose American literature research topics for certain reasons. If asked to write on such topics, here are some of the American literature research paper topics to consider.

Some of the ideas here are great poetry topics. Nevertheless, they require careful research and analysis to write about.

High School Literary Essay Topics

Some topics in literature are ideal for high school essays. Here are examples of literary analysis paper topics for high school students.

Unique Research Topics in English Literature

Some literature research topics are unique and can be written about by learners at different study levels. Here are examples of such topics.

These are also great literary journalism topics. Nevertheless, they require extensive research to write about.

In a nutshell, students have many literary argument topics to consider. The most important thing is to choose an interesting topic that you can find sufficient data to write about. Also, don’t hesitate to check our history topics .

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Chapter Four: Theory, Methodologies, Methods, and Evidence

Research Methods

This page discusses the following topics:

Research Goals

Research method types.

Before discussing research   methods , we need to distinguish them from  methodologies  and  research skills . Methodologies, linked to literary theories, are tools and lines of investigation: sets of practices and propositions about texts and the world. Researchers using Marxist literary criticism will adopt methodologies that look to material forces like labor, ownership, and technology to understand literature and its relationship to the world. They will also seek to understand authors not as inspired geniuses but as people whose lives and work are shaped by social forces.

Example: Critical Race Theory Methodologies

Critical Race Theory may use a variety of methodologies, including

To identify appropriate methodologies, you will need to research your chosen theory and gather what methodologies are associated with it. For the most part, we can’t assume that there are “one size fits all” methodologies.

Research skills are about how you handle materials such as library search engines, citation management programs, special collections materials, and so on.

Research methods  are about where and how you get answers to your research questions. Are you conducting interviews? Visiting archives? Doing close readings? Reviewing scholarship? You will need to choose which methods are most appropriate to use in your research and you need to gain some knowledge about how to use these methods. In other words, you need to do some research into research methods!

Your choice of research method depends on the kind of questions you are asking. For example, if you want to understand how an author progressed through several drafts to arrive at a final manuscript, you may need to do archival research. If you want to understand why a particular literary work became a bestseller, you may need to do audience research. If you want to know why a contemporary author wrote a particular work, you may need to do interviews. Usually literary research involves a combination of methods such as  archival research ,  discourse analysis , and  qualitative research  methods.

Literary research methods tend to differ from research methods in the hard sciences (such as physics and chemistry). Science research must present results that are reproducible, while literary research rarely does (though it must still present evidence for its claims). Literary research often deals with questions of meaning, social conventions, representations of lived experience, and aesthetic effects; these are questions that reward dialogue and different perspectives rather than one great experiment that settles the issue. In literary research, we might get many valuable answers even though they are quite different from one another. Also in literary research, we usually have some room to speculate about answers, but our claims have to be plausible (believable) and our argument comprehensive (meaning we don’t overlook evidence that would alter our argument significantly if it were known).

A literary researcher might select the following:

Theory: Critical Race Theory

Methodology: Social Constructivism

Method: Scholarly

Skills: Search engines, citation management

Wendy Belcher, in  Writing Your Journal Article in 12 Weeks , identifies two main approaches to understanding literary works: looking at a text by itself (associated with New Criticism ) and looking at texts as they connect to society (associated with Cultural Studies ). The goal of New Criticism is to bring the reader further into the text. The goal of Cultural Studies is to bring the reader into the network of discourses that surround and pass through the text. Other approaches, such as Ecocriticism, relate literary texts to the Sciences (as well as to the Humanities).

The New Critics, starting in the 1940s,  focused on meaning within the text itself, using a method they called “ close reading .” The text itself becomes e vidence for a particular reading. Using this approach, you should summarize the literary work briefly and q uote particularly meaningful passages, being sure to introduce quotes and then interpret them (never let them stand alone). Make connections within the work; a sk  “why” and “how” the various parts of the text relate to each other.

Cultural Studies critics see all texts  as connected to society; the critic  therefore has to connect a text to at least one political or social issue. How and why does  the text reproduce particular knowledge systems (known as discourses) and how do these knowledge systems relate to issues of power within the society? Who speaks and when? Answering these questions helps your reader understand the text in context. Cultural contexts can include the treatment of gender (Feminist, Queer), class (Marxist), nationality, race, religion, or any other area of human society.

Other approaches, such as psychoanalytic literary criticism , look at literary texts to better understand human psychology. A psychoanalytic reading can focus on a character, the author, the reader, or on society in general. Ecocriticism  look at human understandings of nature in literary texts.

We select our research methods based on the kinds of things we want to know. For example, we may be studying the relationship between literature and society, between author and text, or the status of a work in the literary canon. We may want to know about a work’s form, genre, or thematics. We may want to know about the audience’s reading and reception, or about methods for teaching literature in schools.

Below are a few research methods and their descriptions. You may need to consult with your instructor about which ones are most appropriate for your project. The first list covers methods most students use in their work. The second list covers methods more commonly used by advanced researchers. Even if you will not be using methods from this second list in your research project, you may read about these research methods in the scholarship you find.

Most commonly used undergraduate research methods:

Methods used more often by advanced researchers:

Regardless of the method(s) you choose, you will need to learn how to apply them to your work and how to carry them out successfully. For example, you should know that many archives do not allow you to bring pens (you can use pencils) and you may not be allowed to bring bags into the archives. You will need to keep a record of which documents you consult and their location (box number, etc.) in the archives. If you are unsure how to use a particular method, please consult a book about it. [1] Also, ask for the advice of trained researchers such as your instructor or a research librarian.

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100 Literary Research Paper Topics (Updated for 2022)

literary research paper topics

If you are reading this blog post, you are probably looking for some great literary research paper topics. The good news is that we have exactly what you are looking for right here on this page. And no, it won’t cost you anything to read and even use any of the literary topics you find on our list.

Finding Literary Research Paper Topics

We have everything from American literature research topics and British literature essay topics to some great topics for literary analysis. Every topic is listed on this page. The list if updated frequently. This way we can ensure that we can help as many students as possible. Of course, we can’t guarantee that none of your classmates have gotten here first. Even though we strive to keep the topics fresh, there is always a possibility that one of more of your peers have picked their topics already.

Use Our Literary Analysis Essay Topics

Our literature topics can be used for free. You can use them as they are or reword them. Also, we want to let you know that our academic writers (some of which worked on compiling this list) are here to help you. If you need some topics that you can be sure are 100% original, get in touch with us. We can put together a list before you start your literary essay in no time.

Literary Analysis Research Paper Topics

When you need the best literary analysis research paper topics on the Internet, you absolutely need to take a look at our ideas:

Literary Debate Topics

Do you want to have the best debate ever? If so, just read our literary debate topics and pick the one that appeals to you the most:

European Literature

Our writers have put together a list of the best literary analysis paper topics about European literature. Take a look and choose one right now:

Literary Journalism Topics

Truth be told, finding top quality literary journalism topics can be a daunting task. Fortunately, you have plenty of examples below:

Literary Topics for Research Paper

We are happy to say that we can help you with exceptional literary topics for research paper. Here are some ideas that should be exactly what you’re looking for:

Literary Argument Topics

Getting access to a list of original literary argument topics can be difficult. Our writers managed to put together a list of original ones for you:

Hot English Literature Topics

We have plenty of topics in literature, including some hot English literature topics. If you need more ideas, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

Literary Analysis Topics for College Students

We are very proud of our academic writers. They managed to compile a very nice list of literary analysis topics for college students:

British Literature Research Paper Topics

Yes, we know that finding good British literature research paper topics is difficult. You need to find an original idea, so why don’t you use one of our topics:

Interesting Literature Topics

Need interesting literature topics? Want to get an A+? Fortunately, we have just the topics you need. Pick one of them and start writing now:

Research Topics in English Literature

If you don’t want to do a lot of research, why don’t you choose some relatively easy research topics in English literature? We have some examples right here:

American Literature Research Paper Topics

It’s not difficult to find some decent American literature research paper topics. But are they original? The following ones are:

Literature Research Topics for High School

If you are in high school, you are probably looking for easier topics. Take a look at these literature research topics for high school students:

Controversial Topics in Literature

Yes, there are plenty of controversial topics in literature. They aren’t easy to find, but they are there. Here are some examples from our writers:

Easy American Literature Topics

If you want to write the paper in just a couple of hours with minimal effort, you need one of our easy American literature topics. Pick one now:

World Literature Research Topics

Our professional writers managed to come up with a list of great world literature research topics. You can use any of our topics:

Poetry Topics

Writing about poetry topics is not simple, we know. This is why we tried to find some topics that are relatively easy to tackle:

Western Literature

Of course, our list wouldn’t be complete without at least some ideas of western literature topics. Here is what our writers consider to be interesting:

Here it is, a list of 100 amazing literary topics for your essay! If you need more, don’t hesitate to contact our professional essay writers .

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Literature Research Paper Topics: 250 Top Ideas


Table of contents

Are you looking for an engaging literary research paper topic? Whether you're writing a college-level essay or a master's thesis, the right literature research paper topics can make all the difference. They range from exploring particular genres or authors to examining the use of language in literary works. By researching these topics, you will gain a greater understanding of the ideas, improve your critical thinking skills, and learn to appreciate the nuances. This article will explore such literature topics for research and open up endless possibilities for analysis and interpretation, ranging from classic to modern-day texts. Are you ready to choose a trending topic and write a paper that will win your professor’s heart? 

What Are Literary Research Paper Topics?

Literary research paper topics focus on a particular literary work, such as a book, poem, novel, play, or story. They provide a great starting point for researching the specific aspect you're planning to explore for a better perception of the idea and help to eliminate any artificial facet. Literary research topics may analyze a single text, compare different writings by the same author, or contrast different authors' styles.  Common literature topics for research papers comprise symbolism, characterization, themes, plot structure, historical context, point-of-view analysis, biographical contexts, and intertextual connections. These research paper topics may also focus on how an author has been interpreted or evaluated over time, analyzing the critical reception of their works and examining any changes within literary canonization. Additionally, these topics can explore how literary works intersect with other disciplines, such as philosophy, psychology, sociology, politics, or economics.

Characteristics of Good Literature Research Paper Topics

Literary research paper topics are usually considered good when they are:

With these important characteristics of literary topics for research papers in mind, you're ready to start writing!

How to Choose a Literature Research Paper Topic?

Choosing a literature research paper topic can be daunting, but with careful thought and planning, you're sure to find the perfect one. In order to do this, you need to complete the following:

With these tips, you can find the perfect literary research paper topic! Don’t have time for reading piles of books? Get professional help with research paper writing from StudyCrumb and have your study completed by a real pro.

List of Literature Research Paper Topics

A list of literature topics for research offers a wide range of literary-related issues that can be explored and studied for your project. It includes ideas that could spark your creativity and help you choose the best title. Whether you're interested in exploring the works of Shakespeare or examining modern literature, this list of literary research paper topics has something for everyone!

Interesting Literary Research Paper Topics

If you are interested in classic books or modern trends, these ideas can be a fascinating starting point for your project. They include theories, criticism, comparison, and specific authors or genres. Besides providing an analysis of the work, a literary research paper topic could also comprise examining different themes. Explore the following interesting literature topics for your project:

Great Literature Research Paper Topics

A list of great literature research topics provides a variety of ideas related to literary works. These research topics in literature can offer an exciting starting point for your English paper:

Unique Literature Research Paper Topics

Unique literature topics for research papers can help students explore new concepts and gain a deeper understanding of their subject. Below are rare literature paper topics for you to review:

Spotted any ideas for your literature research paper? Now it’s time to compose your study. Leave us ‘ do my research paper ’ notice and get a professional writer to work on your project. 

Controversial Literary Research Paper Topics

Controversial literary research topics can provide students with an opportunity to explore complex and sometimes contentious issues related to literary texts. Find below a controversial literary research paper topic for your dream English project!

Fresh Literature Research Paper Ideas

Coming up with fresh ideas for literature research topics can be daunting. Students may want to look at the works they have studied or venture outside the traditional reading list and explore different authors and genres. Some literature research paper ideas comprise studying how certain authors influenced the literary movement, analyzing how language has been used throughout history, or examining gender, race, and class representations from a literary text. Here is a perfect list of fresh ideas!

Literature Research Paper Topics for Students

For students looking for research topics in literature for study, there is a wide variety of options available. Depending on the level and course, they might focus on analyzing particular authors, literary movements, or genres, exploring the use of language throughout history, or examining representations of gender, race, and class in books. You also need to study literary devices and their effects on readers when exploring literary topics for a research paper . Below are examples of literature topics for different students:

Literature Research Paper Topics for High School

These are literature topics to research, specifically tailored to high school students. They involve exploring the influence of literary work on culture, analyzing a single author's literary movement or genre, or investigating language use throughout history. This list of research topics in literature for high school provides an original starting point for your literary project!

Literature Research Paper Topics for College Students

These titles entail more serious and in-depth scrutiny than a high school literary paper. A college-level literary research paper topic provides students with a broader range of analysis. It encompasses looking at literature as a form of political commentary to get its relationship with other art forms. Below are literature research paper topics for college students:

Literary Research Paper Topics by Categories

Research paper topics for literature by category offer an exclusive and stimulating perspective on literary analysis worldwide. They can be grouped into literary movements, authors, and genres, as well as topics related to language and history. If you are interested in European, American, and English literature topics, these ideas will help you find the perfect literary research paper topic for your project.

World Literature Research Paper Topics

Research paper topics for world literature allow students to explore literary works from any part of the world, including texts written in English, Spanish, and other languages. Below is a list that provides original world literature research topics for any project:

American Literature Research Paper Topics

In research paper topics for American literature, you examine the works of early American writers and poets, as well as those from later periods. Here is a list of American literature topics for your paper!

British Literature Research Paper Topics

In British literature research topics, you explore works from early British writers to contemporary authors. Ideally, research topics for British literature should encompass works written by authors from all eras, including Medieval, Renaissance, and modern. Here is a list of English literature research paper topics for your perfect essay!

Did you know that you can generate a bunch of title ideas using our Research Paper Topic Generator ?

European Literary Research Paper Topics

European literature research paper topics offer an excellent opportunity to explore the works of European authors. They allow you to study and analyze the academic traditions and cultures of some of Europe's most influential writers. You can find such literary research paper topic ideas in the list below:

Literature Research Paper Ideas by Periods

You may aspire to find literature topics for research papers from different historical periods. This involves studying literature from various cultures or eras, such as ancient, medieval, or modern ones. These ideas also cover the examination of themes and symbols used in writings and scrutinizing characters and their development through various works. Other topics include the exploration of texts from a political perspective in relation to their historical contexts. These ideas contain some literary research topics from various periods:

Ancient Literary Research Paper Topics

There are many exciting options to consider if you're looking for ancient literature research paper topics. They can be studied with regard to history, culture, art, and philosophy. To gain more insight, you could explore the works of Homer, Henry James, Virgil, and the Mahabharata, or old Egyptian writings, such as The Iliad and Odyssey . Below is a list of ancient literature topics for research you can choose from.

Read more: History Research Topics for Students 

Medieval Literature Research Paper Topics

The medieval literary study provides a unique opportunity to explore literature research topics of the Middle Ages. From Beowulf to The Canterbury Tales , these works offer insights into this era's cultural beliefs and values. Here are such literary topics for research papers to focus on:

Renaissance Literary Research Paper Topics

The Renaissance literature research paper ideas explore works of literature during the Renaissance era, which spanned from the 14th to the 17th century. They focus on the themes, authors, and literature of this period to provide a better understanding of how literary works have evolved within this timeframe and their impact on our current literature. Some of the most influential figures who contributed immensely to writings during this era were William Shakespeare and Miguel de Cervantes. If you are interested in researching this period, you can consider a literature research paper topic from the list below:

Romantic Literature Research Paper Ideas

Romantic literature emerged during the late 18th century and flourished throughout the early 19th century in Europe. It is characterized by its focus on emotion and depictions of nature. This movement had a lasting impact on literary works and has been highly influential. Research topics in literature can explore the writings of authors such as Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and William Wordsworth. Here are some ideas related to romanticism:

Modernist Literary Research Paper Topics

Modern literature emerged during the early 20th century until the end of World War II. It is characterized by a rejection of traditional conventions and focused on experimentation with form. This movement had an unprecedented impact on literature research topics and is highly influential today. If you are looking for literary topics for research papers that focus on modernism, consider exploring the following:

Current Literature Research Paper Ideas

Current literature paper topics can look at the latest trends. They include exploring contemporary works such as Harry Potter by J.K Rowling and Stardust by Neil Gaiman. These topics may also involve analyzing social media's effects on literary writings. If you are looking for current literary topics for a research paper, consider the following:

In case you need more paper topics, feel free to browse our blog. We have a wide arsenal of ideas starting from philosophy research paper topics to education research paper topics .  

Bottom Line on Literature Research Paper Topics

Literature topics for research can explore a wide range of themes and works. Whether you are looking for visionary ideas about poetry, fiction, or books from different eras, there is no shortage of literature paper topics to choose from. To narrow down your focus and find the best idea for your project, consider researching literary movements, reading widely, and thinking about the areas that interest you most.  Literature topics for research papers should be chosen based on students' interests and areas of expertise. By conducting in-depth research, you will gain a greater appreciation for literary work and its impact on society. With this article as a guide, you can take the time to find a topic that speaks to you and create an engaging research paper.

We would like to remind you that our professional writers are available 24/7 and will be glad to help you. StudyCrumb provides the best research paper writing service quickly and efficiently. Fill out the form on our website, and don't worry about anything else.


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How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates

Published on January 2, 2023 by Shona McCombes . Revised on May 31, 2023.

What is a literature review? A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources on a specific topic. It provides an overview of current knowledge, allowing you to identify relevant theories, methods, and gaps in the existing research that you can later apply to your paper, thesis, or dissertation topic .

There are five key steps to writing a literature review:

A good literature review doesn’t just summarize sources—it analyzes, synthesizes , and critically evaluates to give a clear picture of the state of knowledge on the subject.

Table of contents

What is the purpose of a literature review, examples of literature reviews, step 1 – search for relevant literature, step 2 – evaluate and select sources, step 3 – identify themes, debates, and gaps, step 4 – outline your literature review’s structure, step 5 – write your literature review, free lecture slides, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions, introduction.

When you write a thesis , dissertation , or research paper , you will likely have to conduct a literature review to situate your research within existing knowledge. The literature review gives you a chance to:

Writing literature reviews is a particularly important skill if you want to apply for graduate school or pursue a career in research. We’ve written a step-by-step guide that you can follow below.

Literature review guide

Writing literature reviews can be quite challenging! A good starting point could be to look at some examples, depending on what kind of literature review you’d like to write.

You can also check out our templates with literature review examples and sample outlines at the links below.

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Before you begin searching for literature, you need a clearly defined topic .

If you are writing the literature review section of a dissertation or research paper, you will search for literature related to your research problem and questions .

Make a list of keywords

Start by creating a list of keywords related to your research question. Include each of the key concepts or variables you’re interested in, and list any synonyms and related terms. You can add to this list as you discover new keywords in the process of your literature search.

Search for relevant sources

Use your keywords to begin searching for sources. Some useful databases to search for journals and articles include:

You can also use boolean operators to help narrow down your search.

Make sure to read the abstract to find out whether an article is relevant to your question. When you find a useful book or article, you can check the bibliography to find other relevant sources.

You likely won’t be able to read absolutely everything that has been written on your topic, so it will be necessary to evaluate which sources are most relevant to your research question.

For each publication, ask yourself:

Make sure the sources you use are credible , and make sure you read any landmark studies and major theories in your field of research.

You can use our template to summarize and evaluate sources you’re thinking about using. Click on either button below to download.

Take notes and cite your sources

As you read, you should also begin the writing process. Take notes that you can later incorporate into the text of your literature review.

It is important to keep track of your sources with citations to avoid plagiarism . It can be helpful to make an annotated bibliography , where you compile full citation information and write a paragraph of summary and analysis for each source. This helps you remember what you read and saves time later in the process.

To begin organizing your literature review’s argument and structure, be sure you understand the connections and relationships between the sources you’ve read. Based on your reading and notes, you can look for:

This step will help you work out the structure of your literature review and (if applicable) show how your own research will contribute to existing knowledge.

There are various approaches to organizing the body of a literature review. Depending on the length of your literature review, you can combine several of these strategies (for example, your overall structure might be thematic, but each theme is discussed chronologically).


The simplest approach is to trace the development of the topic over time. However, if you choose this strategy, be careful to avoid simply listing and summarizing sources in order.

Try to analyze patterns, turning points and key debates that have shaped the direction of the field. Give your interpretation of how and why certain developments occurred.

If you have found some recurring central themes, you can organize your literature review into subsections that address different aspects of the topic.

For example, if you are reviewing literature about inequalities in migrant health outcomes, key themes might include healthcare policy, language barriers, cultural attitudes, legal status, and economic access.


If you draw your sources from different disciplines or fields that use a variety of research methods , you might want to compare the results and conclusions that emerge from different approaches. For example:


A literature review is often the foundation for a theoretical framework . You can use it to discuss various theories, models, and definitions of key concepts.

You might argue for the relevance of a specific theoretical approach, or combine various theoretical concepts to create a framework for your research.

Like any other academic text , your literature review should have an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion . What you include in each depends on the objective of your literature review.

The introduction should clearly establish the focus and purpose of the literature review.

Depending on the length of your literature review, you might want to divide the body into subsections. You can use a subheading for each theme, time period, or methodological approach.

As you write, you can follow these tips:

In the conclusion, you should summarize the key findings you have taken from the literature and emphasize their significance.

When you’ve finished writing and revising your literature review, don’t forget to proofread thoroughly before submitting. Not a language expert? Check out Scribbr’s professional proofreading services !

This article has been adapted into lecture slides that you can use to teach your students about writing a literature review.

Scribbr slides are free to use, customize, and distribute for educational purposes.

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If you want to know more about the research process , methodology , research bias , or statistics , make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples.


Research bias

A literature review is a survey of scholarly sources (such as books, journal articles, and theses) related to a specific topic or research question .

It is often written as part of a thesis, dissertation , or research paper , in order to situate your work in relation to existing knowledge.

There are several reasons to conduct a literature review at the beginning of a research project:

Writing the literature review shows your reader how your work relates to existing research and what new insights it will contribute.

The literature review usually comes near the beginning of your thesis or dissertation . After the introduction , it grounds your research in a scholarly field and leads directly to your theoretical framework or methodology .

A literature review is a survey of credible sources on a topic, often used in dissertations , theses, and research papers . Literature reviews give an overview of knowledge on a subject, helping you identify relevant theories and methods, as well as gaps in existing research. Literature reviews are set up similarly to other  academic texts , with an introduction , a main body, and a conclusion .

An  annotated bibliography is a list of  source references that has a short description (called an annotation ) for each of the sources. It is often assigned as part of the research process for a  paper .  

Cite this Scribbr article

If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

McCombes, S. (2023, May 31). How to Write a Literature Review | Guide, Examples, & Templates. Scribbr. Retrieved June 5, 2023, from https://www.scribbr.com/dissertation/literature-review/

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How to Write a Fantastic Literary Research Paper

The first thing you should do is select a topic of your interest. Keep in mind that picking a topic that is interesting to you personally ensures a well-written paper. The student should not only be able to analyze previous work done by scholars in the chosen field of research but also base their conclusions on it. Start by jotting down your ideas, then find some sources (books or websites), and after that, proceed with conducting research.

While writing the literary research paper, pay attention to the exciting arguments derived from the sources you've collected. Before getting down to the actual writing, it is advisable to come up with an outline of how you are going to structure the collected information. This may prove to be very helpful to the reader, as it will allow them to follow your train of thought quickly.

Because you may slightly deviate from the working hypothesis in the process of writing, it is necessary that your introduction mirrors your conclusion, so be sure to paraphrase it at the end, if needed. Carefully select information essential to your research, including references to it in the References section. That way you'll show your acknowledgment and appreciation to other writers', whose ideas you referred to in your work.

The literacy review lies at the core of your paper, so it should be well-structured and show your creative approach to the task. Structuring makes it easier to include subtopics in your article. You are also expected to provide expert analysis of your test or essay, as well as come up with the thesis statement so that the readers understand why you decided to write your research paper. The argument should be provided to create a debate for the chosen subject, too. You are also required to provide theoretical framework concepts and ideas suggested by other scholars in the past.

It is essential to include the title page in your research paper so that the focus of your argument is on the reader.

Different students have different writing styles, but we suggest following these simple steps:

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What is a literary research paper

In the academic arena, 'literature' stands for a collection of scholarly works and articles that are specifically related to a specific topic and were published in academic journals. The literature review is the significant part of your paper, allowing you to blend arguments and ideas together in the summary.

The literary research paper definition is as follows: this is a compilation of substantive research of different previously published scholarly works pertaining to the given topic. It also involves methodological and theoretical contributions to a specific chosen topic. In other words, it represents ideas by different scholars that are gathered and molded into a single paper.

Writing a literature research paper

The purpose of writing a literature research paper is to break down and analyze some aspect of a literature piece. There are various reasons regarding why writing the literature research paper is important: it may be either revealing how the conflicts in the book expose the theme, or contrasting and comparing the book's characters. Keep in mind that the idea you're elaborating on always depends on the topic.

While writing this kind of paper, students should demonstrate their ability to understand and clearly explain the hidden meaning of a certain literature piece. Having collective research of previously published sources assists in gathering the best information and ideas prior to exploring the topic. It also aids in keeping you well informed about the latest trends and findings in relation to your topic. However, it doesn't necessarily mean that you cannot come up with your own research questions.

Students taking English Literature course may use a particular guideline while writing their research papers. However, it is always a good idea to read tutorials to improve your writing skills and pick up some crucially important information on paper writing.

Research paper introduction

Students often wonder how to write an introduction for a literary research paper, and it is of little surprise that they do. Being the first thing the reader will see, it is supposed to grab and hold their attention. The introduction paragraph should be short and at the same time describe the topic and main idea of your paper. It is always a good idea to begin your introduction by providing a thought-provoking or controversial quote.

However, the literary research paper introduction is only supposed to announce the topic, while the reason for the paper and research questions should be revealed in the hypothesis. The literature review helps to show why there is a need for further research into the previously researched problems and how the paper can meet this objective. It should also show how and why the paper differs from the previous research materials.

In some cases, you may begin by introducing the author and their book. The topic you have selected should be clear not only to you but to the reader as well. A specific thesis statement should then be written, but you need to make sure that it is not phrased in the form of a question. End your introduction with a thesis statement. It may be a good idea to begin writing the introduction after your entire paper is finished. Briefly summed up, your introduction should achieve the following goals:

Just two sentences at the end of the introduction will suffice. Students often ponder on how to write a thesis for a literary research paper. The thesis statement should state the major purpose and idea of the paper. When writing the thesis, keep in mind a few important things:

Writing the body paragraphs

This is a stage at which your chosen topic should be argued upon, described, and explained. Each body paragraph should convey the main point of your paper and be in a proper format. It is best to start with the most crucial information and then gradually move on to less important facts and ideas. Each new idea should be introduced in a separate paragraph, meaning that if you have three or four of those, you should, consequently, have three or four main body paragraphs. However, remember to use your outline so as not to drift away from the topic. Do not use only short sentences, because it will make your paper less sophisticated and more general.

Each of the paragraphs should clearly explain the idea and contain concisely elaborated points that support it. Reveal how the evidence provided proves the claims made in the thesis statement. Keep in mind that linking back to the thesis makes it easy to move on to the next paragraph.

Conclusion writing

This is the final paragraph of your paper so you should start it by restating your thesis. The major points and ideas in the body paragraphs are then summarised, and the purpose of your topic is explained.

Literary research paper topics

It is always a good idea to choose a topic that is interesting to you. This way you can ensure that you will get a well-written research paper that was not only a delight for you to work on but also a joy for your readers to study. Remember that this is the critical analysis paper and the issue of how to choose a topic for a literary research paper is very important.

20 literary research paper topics list

Literary research paper outline

This is a format that students often prefer while writing research papers because it lets them organize their thoughts and ideas efficiently. It also makes their papers easy to follow and ensures that none of their main points is left out during the writing process. In simple terms, the research paper outline enables you to present your ideas, thoughts, points, and arguments in an organized manner, and then draw inspiration from it while writing.

Let's take a look at some literary research paper outline example:

Some literary research paper tips

Here are some follow-up tips that have the power to boost your paper's success if implemented correctly.

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Covid-19 distance and online learning: a systematic literature review in pharmacy education

BMC Medical Education volume  23 , Article number:  367 ( 2023 ) Cite this article

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The Covid-19 outbreak necessitated the implementation of social distancing mechanisms, such as the enforcement of lockdowns in numerous nations. The lockdown has disrupted many parts of everyday life, but this unusual event has particularly affected education. The temporary closure of educational institutions ushered in dozens of new reforms, including a shift into the distance and online learning. This study investigates the transition from traditional education in physical classrooms to online and distance and online learning in pharmacy education during Covid-19, especially about the challenges and benefits of distance and online learning. We did Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) for literature sources between 2020 and 2022 (n.14). The study elaborates on how the transition has influenced teachers and students of pharmacy education. The research also summarizes several recommendations, which may assist in minimizing the adverse impacts of lockdown and encourage streamlined processes to distance and online learning, particularly in pharmacy education.

Peer Review reports


Covid-19, an infectious illness characterized by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, endangered the world quickly due to its highly infectious nature. As of 6 March 2023, there have been more than seven hudred million confirmed cases were documented, with over six million deaths [ 1 ]. The World Health Organization (WHO) labeled the virus a pandemic in March 2020. The pandemic caused havoc on a variety of activities of daily life, triggering governments worldwide to put in place a series of emergency response mechanisms [ 2 , 3 ]. Country leaders imposed temporary closure and enforced extended isolation time, disrupting educational activity around the globe, reducing infection, and flattening the curve to avoid overburdening healthcare services. This resulted in the temporary closure of educational institutions in various parts of the world. The situation affected teachers, students, and their families [ 4 , 5 , 6 ]. Some academic institutions facing closure gradually reopened and began working under distance and online learning methods to keep students on track academically while also taking steps to mitigate the effects of the present health crisis. In the past, infectious disease epidemics have resulted in widespread school closures, with variable levels of success [ 7 ]. At the most basic level, distance learning refers to taking classes away from the college. Although technically a type of distance learning, online learning is more frequently used to describe programs where the instructors are not present simultaneously as the students [ 8 ].

Institutions have been forced into quickly transitioning to distance and online learning approaches mainly based on technology. Many educational stakeholders, such as teachers, students, and school administration staff, have not prepared to face the transition because of the fast switch to distance and online learning [ 9 ]. This transition to remote learning happened in an unexpected situation, leaving little time for teachers, educational staff, and students to prepare, modify, and adjust the learning. The condition brought several problems to the economy and social life. According to UNESCO, the temporary school closures enacted in response to the Covid-19 pandemic have impacted more than a billion students worldwide. Owing to a lockdown in 2020, students from over 50 nations have been kept out of school, accounting for roughly 18% of total registered students [ 10 ]. Many studies have been conducted to understand the impacts of distance and online learning in education due to Covid-19 [ 11 , 12 , 13 ]. However, literature reviews in a specific field of study are still limited and important to understand the broad effects of distance and online learning [ 7 , 9 , 14 ]. This systematic literature review takes an in-depth look at the studies on the influence of the Covid-19 pandemic on a specific field of education. This research examines how the shift from traditional methods to distance and online learning has affected teachers and students in pharmacy education. The impact of the pandemic-based distance and online learning on pharmacy education should be investigated to improve didactical decisions in the future and bridge the gaps to more adaptable but effective online pedagogical approaches. Initially, the focus areas of the literature review were investigated within pharmacy education. Following the focus areas, the distance and online learning challenges and benefits were assessed and elaborated on. Finally, recommendations of the prior studies included in this meta-analysis were concluded.

Related work

Many governments were under pressure to prevent Covid-19 from spreading. This resulted in the temporary closures of many schools and universities [ 15 ]. Others switched to distance and online learning through technology. Viner et al. [ 16 ] did a systematic evaluation to determine the influence of school closures and other social distance techniques on disease rates and virus spread during crises. It was indicated that educational institution temporary closures play an insignificant role in virus transmission reduction. The minor advantages of such restrictions on the spread reduction might quickly be offset by the severe socio-economic implications [ 16 , 17 , 18 ]. The closure can have effects on individuals, families, and society. Therefore, any decision regarding school closures must carefully consider the potential trade-offs and aim to strike a balance between protecting public health and minimizing the adverse impacts on education, economy, and social well-being. As a result, many academic institutions have chosen the less drastic option of converting to distance and online learning [ 19 , 20 ].

Distance learning refers to online instruction systems to create educational materials, provide teaching, and manage programs [ 21 ]. There are two basic types of distance learning: synchronous and asynchronous [ 22 ]. The main goal of distance and online learning is to replicate regular classroom communication approaches. Live webinars and virtual classes are examples of synchronous distance and online learning. On the other hand, asynchronous learning allows for greater flexibility in terms of timing which does not require real-time engagement; materials are provided online. Video recordings and emails are instances of asynchronous learning.

A comprehensive review and meta-analysis of controlled studies on the efficiency and approval of distance and online learning in medical sciences published between January 2000 and March 2020 evaluated students’ understanding, abilities, and satisfaction levels [ 23 ]. The study reported insignificant differences between traditional and distance and online learning regarding usefulness and objective assessments. Distance and online learning obtained a better approval rating in subjective assessments, suggesting that it was preferred to some degree by learners [ 23 ]. Carrillo & Flores [ 24 ] also reviewed the literature on online teaching and learning practices in teacher development between January 2000 and April 2020 to investigate online learning in teacher development and explain its consequences in the sense of the disease outbreak. The review discussed sociological, intellectual, and pedagogical problems and a comprehensive representation of innovation utilized to enhance teaching and learning [ 24 ].

Daoud et al. [ 25 ] performed a comprehensive review that evaluated the academic benefits of providing internet access at home, focusing on equality surrounding household internet access. It discovered several favorable associations between household internet access and the value of education for qualification, personal character, and social life. However, the relationship was not apparent and did not prove causality. Variables affect the aspects of online behaviors, including how technology is integrated and determine the educational value of household internet use [ 25 ]. Di Pietro et al. [ 26 ] published a report in which they attempted to investigate the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic on education. It generated projections regarding the influence and future of learning based on pre and during Covid-19 data. The following are the four critical conclusions drawn from the article: (a) learning is likely to experience a stumbling block; (b) the impact on student achievements is likely to differ with economic factors; (c) social-economic disparity expressed in extreme reactions, less-wealthy families are subjected to greater environmental strain; (d) the broadening social inequality could have long-lasting effects [ 26 ].

Some virtual cases of emergency learning methods have been chastised for failing to follow basic pedagogical principles and guidelines [ 27 ]. Several studies have raised concerns regarding the possible negative consequences of rushing to introduce educational technology changes without first assessing their impact [ 27 , 28 ]. Furthermore, the move to online education and distance and online learning technologies has sparked worries about spying and security and influenced students’ lifestyles [ 29 ]. In this research context, selected studies were diverse, from quantitative to qualitatitve approaches [ 30 ]. Because this phenomenon is still new, there is a lack of reflection on the pandemic digital revolution’s direct impact on postsecondary learning and its benefits, drawbacks, and future consequences.

The current research, a systematic literature review, follows the principles outlined in the preferred reporting items for systematic review and meta-analysis (PRISMA) procedures [ 31 , 32 ], which include five stages: search, screening, eligibility, initial inclusion, and inclusion. PRISMA is a standard approach to assist researchers in transparently informing the study, steps, and results within the context of the systematic literature review [ 33 ].

Research questions

This research investigates the effects of Covid-19 distance and online learning on pharmacy education. Four research questions were proposed: (1) what are the focus areas of the literature review? (2) what are the challenges of distance and online learning in pharmacy education? (3) what are the benefits of distance and online learning pharmacy education? (4) what recommendations were made?

The research questions were a basic guideline for determining the most popular search terms. The search includes terms synonymous with or closely linked to the main search phrases. The search was conducted using Science Direct, supported by Google Scholar search. The relevant search terms were used: “Distance learning in pharmacy education Covid 19,” “online education in pharmacy education Covid 19,” and “Technology integration in pharmacy education Covid-19.” The findings varied depending on the phrase combinations. However, in general, 17 to 81 papers (Table  1 ) were obtained each search, with the number growing relevant to the topics. Related phrases were gathered in all publications depending on the search. The terms sued in the search were determined through an in-depth discussion among the authors. We limited the terms so that future researchers can adapt this study for further investigation. The search limit provides narrow results for effective and efficient work for the most relevant answers to the research problems [ 34 ].

Articles published after 2020 were kept in the study. Only works from high-quality journals were included; we selected the articles from indexed journals in Web of Science or Scopus databases. We initially reviewed the selected papers against Elsevier’s abstract and reference repository, Scopus, to verify that they were of top standard and didn’t relate to fraudulent publications. We also double-checked that they were in the Scopus indexation for the SJR, a measure of academic journals’ scientific impact. Furthermore, the publications were evaluated using Beall’s List, a list comprising predatory accessible publications that do not conduct an adequate review process.

PRISMA procedures

A reference list of scholarly papers directly referencing Covid-19 online learning: A comprehensive literature review in pharmacy education was created after merging these lists. After the first search or first phase, 137 scholarly publications were presented (Table  1 ). By removing duplicated results, we were able to screen for them. Microsoft Word was used as a tool in the duplication removal procedure. We went through each repeated title and removed them one by one. The redundancy led to 54 academic papers being sent for additional review, with 83 being deleted. Further, the step included the following elimination process; the articles should address technology integration in pharmacy education during Covid-19 distance learning, inform findings in English, be empirical studies (research articles), and be published from 2020 to April 1st, 2022. From the process, 47 abstracts were dropped, and the remaining 36 articles were for eligibility and inclusion (Fig.  1 ).

figure 1

PRISMA flow diagram of the study

Following the initial screening, a review-coding method was performed using Macros in Microsoft Words for the abstracts, with the process documented by writing “included” 1st initial inclusion in the review box. After that, we added some information for every abstract, and the coding was done in a new draft where all the initial abstracts were included. The Macros [ 35 , 36 ] were used to encode and extract the selected papers [ 37 ]. Macros were chosen because of their efficiency and functionality [ 35 ]. Tables were created to manage the comments and metadata. The study’s aim, method, study site/ population, and findings are listed in the tables. Four authors discussed and did the coding and combined documents into one before extracting the comments for analysis. The Macros were obtained for free at http://www.thedoctools.com/index.php?show=mt_comments_extract .

In the end, 14 articles were collected, examined, and reviewed. The criteria for inclusion in this systematic review were accessible articles in the context of distance education during Covid-19 in the field of pharmacy education. Meanwhile, the exclusion criteria included articles that were not in the context of Covid-19 (n.6), pharmacy education, and distance and online learning. Besides, inaccessible articles (n.7) and articles with insufficient information (n.9) regarding the topic were also excluded.

Results and discussion

The results of this literature review are presented. The findings of every research topic are examined in depth. The focuse of the reviewed articles is presented in Table  2 .

In the selected investigations, most educational institutions moved to online learning. The quality requirements listed in Table  3 were used to construct 14 studies.

Area of focus

In this study, 14 publications considered the effect of COVID-19 on pharmacy education, specifically the technological change they sparked, distance and online learning challenges and benefits, and the recommendations for future studies. Eight papers discussed students’ and faculty’s experiences with remote learning and the participants’ perspectives on its possible benefits and drawbacks. Besides, four publications provided remote learning solutions or tested the performance of a specific technology. Three articles discussed educational policies considering the pandemic and examined the new approach to teaching and learning activities. Two papers investigated how the closure and subsequent transformation to technology-based education compounded achievement gaps. The gaps were revealed between students from lower-income households who lacked internet access and devices and those from higher-income families with devices and easy access to the Internet.

The key challenges can be summarized in the following points: disparity in accessibility, training insufficiency , lack of communication, technical issues, pressure, work, and confidence, and lack of student involvement, technical knowledge, and performance evaluatio n.

There is a disparity in accessibility for pharmacy students, typically linked to family income [ 42 , 45 , 46 , 51 ], discussed in four articles from the review sources. The shift to distance and online learning worsened the disparities between wealthy and disadvantaged pharmacy students. Students studying pharmacy in less affluent areas have little or no access to supporting devices and the Internet [ 42 , 45 ]. Students from low-income families were reported to have less skill and knowledge of technology than students from high-income families with strong economic backgrounds [ 38 , 41 ]. The inequality goes to institutions located in rural areas, which are under-equipped compared to institutions located in cities or urban areas [ 52 ], resulting in different challenges faced by each type of institution.

While technology can enhance the learning experience, it cannot completely replace it, especially in pharmacy professions requiring hands-on laboratory training that indeed produces training insufficiency [ 44 , 48 ]. The phenomenon is especially true in health-related fields, such as pharmacy. The papers on pharmacy education emphasized the importance of hands-on experience and how secondary knowledge derived through simulation, presentation recordings, or online meetings through video conferencing cannot replace the experience.

Because of the depreciation or lack of physical interaction and the intrinsic vagueness of textual exchanges, forming and maintaining connections and forging communication between students, their classmates, and their teachers became increasingly challenging [ 38 ]. With the inexistence of visible touch and the capacity to observe students in classrooms, teachers and instructors have a more challenging time explaining directions and evaluating student response, involvement, and participation. These lack of communication challenges have been revealed in three articles within this literature review [ 38 , 40 , 45 ].

Technical issues such as Internet or Wi-Fi access, tool malfunctions, and stream stability might obstruct communication [ 42 , 45 , 51 ]. As the pandemic spread over the globe, accessibility to a dependable internet connection became increasingly vital in the last year, and quite enough of day-to-day life shifted from in-person to online. Many students, however, have suffered from technological challenges since the start of Covid 19, and existing disparities have indeed been exacerbated by the lack of consistent accessibility [ 42 , 45 , 51 ].

Pressure, work, and confidence were all impacted by the students’ and teachers’ forced and quick transfer to remote learning. Many pharmacy students and faculty members faced financial and social anxiety due to the lockdown, which indirectly impacted their performance. Academic employees, for example, had to deal with increased or even quadrupled workloads. Extended time without face-to-face social interaction can also harm one’s mental health.

Technical knowledge is the next challenge of the current study [ 42 , 45 , 46 , 51 ]. Many educational institutions, schools, and universities were surprised by this rapid and forced digital change, giving educational leaders limited time to educate their professional personnel. The complex evidence and reality left non-tech-aware teachers and instructors unprepared and unequipped to work with complex technological-based activities. Teachers’ lack of technical expertise and prior experience using online tools are also challenges [ 42 , 51 ]. In many circumstances, the incapacity of faculty members to use technology hampered the success of distance and online learning.

Other difficulties include a lack of student involvement and performance evaluatio n [ 40 , 41 , 42 , 45 , 51 ]. Student engagement was occasionally weak due to dependency on recorded meetings, limitation of intention, and stress produced by using the devices. There was also weariness from staring at screens for long periods, isolated thoughts, and melancholy from a limited personal touch [ 40 , 42 ]. Teachers faced problems revising learning assessments to fairly record student academic performance and achievements [ 51 ], which is challenging during distance and online learning, especially for pharmacy students.

Other challenges might also be faced during distance and online learning due to Covid-19. The quality of online and distance learning in pharmacy education is one of them, and it can be a major issue. The government’s educational policy makes no explicit mention of distance and learning. Lack of quality control, development of e-resources, and content delivery can be present. This issue needs to be addressed in further work, especially in pharmacy education, so that all stakeholders can take advantage of the advantages of high-quality distance and online education. One should consider developing and improving the quality of learning for future pandemics.

This stage highlights the benefits of digital change in pharmacy education for more opportunities in the future of education. There are a number of benefits [ 39 , 41 , 42 , 45 , 47 , 49 , 50 ] informed by sources included in this systematic literature review, namely bridging the gap between time and place, communication effectiveness, information transition, and cost-effectiveness.

Distance and online learning bridge the gap between time and place , that gives pharmacy students and teachers the freedom to listen to academic lectures and speeches from the coziness of their living rooms or from anywhere else [ 42 , 47 , 50 ]. Due to the time, it also enables pupils to self-regulate their education and progress at their own pace. Distance and online learning give students the opportunities to listen to their lectures from the comfort of their own homes or from anywhere else. Because of the adaptability enabled by elements such as recording, distance and online learning also helps students to self-regulate their learning and continue at their speed. Online learning allows for a more modern and practical way of communication [ 39 , 41 , 47 , 49 , 50 ]. Significant debates might be addressed during courses, and participants can profit from these talks by observing or engaging in chat.

Distance and online learning facilitate communication effectiveness because participants shouldn’t have to talk face to face or deal with the anxiety that comes with talking in front of a live audience, which encourages more conversation. Parents of young children can also benefit from online learning by becoming more active in their children’s education [ 39 , 45 , 47 , 49 ]. The pressures of the pandemic to shift to digital and remote educational models in teaching revealed flaws in the approach and compelled lecturers to consider and evaluate present and prior instructional approaches, offering a glimpse into what educational technology could look like, encouraging didactical advancement and accelerating changes in technology-based education. The process can be considered a catalyst for curricular and classroom improvement [ 39 , 49 , 50 ].

The employment of simulations and other approaches for educational goals and the deployment of online learning are seen as beneficial and adequate, if not comprehensive, substitutes for traditional learning [ 39 , 41 , 42 , 45 , 47 , 49 , 50 ]. It met the goal of continuing to provide instruction in the face of the epidemic while also assisting pupils in meeting their expectations. Distance and online learning also help increase information transmission , with additional benefits of cost-effectiveness . Students are exposed to new and relevant technologies by integrating technology into education [ 39 , 45 , 49 ].

Recommendations and suggestions

The solution is raising and sustaining their motivation to promote morale and battle any lockdown-induced stress or worry. Accessible online learning portals are for institutions in pharmacy education. Generating and accepting feedback from learners to ensure the quality of online learning is another piece of advice made by the existing literature in pharmacy education [ 39 , 42 , 43 , 45 , 49 ]. They are examining the outcomes of distance and online learning and commenting on the distinctions between it and traditional education to identify which components are sustainable and fit the expectations placed on pharmacy education in general by the pandemic situation.

The current study also helps lecturers use effective instructional strategies and allows educational institutions to enhance online instructional resources continuously [ 53 , 54 ]. Pharmacy students comprehend the required courses and sense the connection of the study content to the actual world. Teachers must set clear expectations and establish course objectives and the value of the syllabus to accomplish this [ 39 , 49 ]. Early in the academic year, they must also define their roles and duties as instructors and facilitators [ 43 , 45 ]. Furthermore, authorities should aim to assess and prevent any dangers or disadvantages of economic or workload discrepancies because of this rapid transition from traditional learning to distance and online learning during crises like Covid-19 [ 55 ].

Another piece of advice is to reassess and rethink educational practices and formulate guidance to steer the shifts to online and distance learning and make necessary infrastructural improvements [ 56 , 57 ]. The activities are designed to familiarize students and professors with technology, develop their competence, and equip them to deal with technological challenges that may arise during online lectures [ 49 ]. This will also aid in the effective use of technology to fulfill its full potential in online education. Finally, it is critical to provide underequipped pupils with the essential tools to participate in online communications, such as devices and solid internet access [ 39 , 45 ].

Conclusion and future work

Covid-19 has a major effect on the world and how people arrange themselves in the actual world. It has revealed systemic flaws inside institutions and resulted in lengthy changes. This was also true in the educational system. This assessment aimed to examine and assess the impact of these developments on pharmacy education. In total, 14 articles regarding distance and online learning during Covid-19 were discussed. The current study uses the PRISMA approach to outline the findings through 5 steps (search, screening, eligibility, initial inclusion, and inclusion). To fill the gap of prior studies in pharmacy education, we examined the change in learning from traditional methods to distance and online learning, affecting all related stakeholders. The impact of pandemics on pharmacy education should be more elaborated for future research for the betterment of education, especially pharmacy education. In short, we focus the presentation of the study on the focus areas of the literature, benefits, and challenges of distance and online learning during Covid-19 in pharmacy education.

Availability of data and materials

The datasets used and/or analysed during the current study available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

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We thank Universitas Padjadjaran, Universitas Jambi, Universitas Terbuka, Beijing Normal University, and Universiti Malaya to support the research.

This research is fully funded by Universitas Padjajaran.

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Faculty of Pharmacy, Universitas Padjadjaran, Bandung, West Java, Indonesia

Muhaimin Muhaimin, Anis Yohana Chaerunisaa & Tiana Milanda

Universitas Jambi, Jambi, Indonesia

Akhmad Habibi

Universitas Terbuka, Banten, Indonesia

Yasir Riady

Jazan University, Jazan, Saudi Arabia

Turki Mesfer Alqahtani

Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China

Tommy Tanu Wijaya

Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Farrah Dina Yusop & Nour Awni Albelbisi

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Conceptualization—MM. contributed to conceptualization. Introduction—MM, TTW, and YR contributed to introduction. Methodology—AH, AC, and TM contributed to methodology. Literature Review—all authors contributed to literature review. Results—AH, TMA, MM, and YR contributed to the results. Data Curation— AH, MM, and YR contributed to data curation. Project Administration—MM, AC, and TM contributed to project administration. Writing (Original Draft)—MM, AH, TMA, TTW, FDY, NAA and YR contributed to writing the original data. AH, FDY, and NAA contirubuted to the revision of the writing.

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Correspondence to Muhaimin Muhaimin .

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Muhaimin, M., Habibi, A., Riady, Y. et al. Covid-19 distance and online learning: a systematic literature review in pharmacy education. BMC Med Educ 23 , 367 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12909-023-04346-6

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  • 31 May 2023

AI intensifies fight against ‘paper mills’ that churn out fake research

  • Layal Liverpool

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The hand of a businessman holding a pen and hovering above a doughnut chart printout on table.

Artificial-intelligence tools that can generate realistic images and text are making it difficult to detect fake research. Credit: Westend61/Alamy

Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) are complicating publishers’ efforts to tackle the growing problem of paper mills — companies that produce fake scientific papers to order. Generative AI tools, including chatbots such as ChatGPT and image-generating software, provide new ways of producing paper-mill content, which could prove particularly difficult to detect. These were among the challenges discussed by research-integrity experts at a summit on 24 May, which focused on the paper-mill problem.

literary research essay

Paper-mill detector put to the test in push to stamp out fake science

“The capacity of paper mills to generate increasingly plausible raw data is just going to be skyrocketing with AI,” says Jennifer Byrne, a molecular biologist and publication-integrity researcher at New South Wales Health Pathology and the University of Sydney in Australia.

“I have seen fake microscopy images that were just generated by AI,” says Jana Christopher, an image-data-integrity analyst at the publisher FEBS Press in Heidelberg, Germany. But being able to prove beyond suspicion that images are AI-generated remains a challenge, she says.

Language-generating AI tools such as ChatGPT pose a similar problem. “As soon as you have something that can show that something’s generated by ChatGPT, there’ll be some other tool to scramble that,” says Christopher.

A stream of papers

Anna Abalkina, a social scientist at the Free University of Berlin and an independent research-integrity analyst, suspects that there might be a delay in these AI tools becoming more apparent in the academic literature because of the length of the peer-review process. Perhaps in the next few months, “we will see the first stream of papers”, she says.

Byrne, Christopher and Abalkina were participants at the UNITED2ACT summit last week, which was convened by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), a non-profit organization focused on ethics in academic publishing based in Eastleigh, UK, and the International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers (STM), based in Oxford. The summit brought together international researchers, including independent research-integrity analysts, as well as representatives from funding bodies and publishers.

literary research essay

The fight against fake-paper factories that churn out sham science

“It was the first time we had a group of people come together and co-create a set of actions which we’re going to take forward to combat this problem,” says Deborah Kahn, a trustee of COPE and a research-integrity consultant, based in London. The group intends to publish its joint action plan soon.

When it comes to detecting paper-mill works, “there is absolutely an additional challenge which is posed by synthetic images, synthetic text, et cetera”, says Joris van Rossum, programme director for STM Solutions, a subsidiary of STM. “There is a general realization that there is the potential of screening becoming more difficult,” he says.

AI assistance

Kahn says that, although there will undoubtedly be positive uses of AI to support researchers writing papers, it will still be necessary to distinguish between legitimate papers written with AI and those that have been completely fabricated. “We have to really look at how we identify those things, and how we make sure that people have actually done the research. And there are various ways we can do that,” she says.

One strategy discussed during the summit was to require authors to provide the raw data from experiments, potentially with digital watermarks that would enable publishers to confirm that those data are genuine.

literary research essay

Hundreds of gibberish papers still lurk in the scientific literature

Currently, requirements for submitting raw data vary significantly between publishers, says Christopher. Establishing a uniform set of requirements for the submission of raw data across publishers, taking into account differences between fields of research, could therefore be helpful, she says.

Sabina Alam, director of publishing ethics and integrity at Taylor & Francis, a publisher based in Abingdon, UK, agrees but says that such standards will take time to implement. “I can’t imagine it being an overnight flip, because the reality is many institutions don’t actually have the resources to offer data-management infrastructure,” she says. “We don’t want to penalize actual research.”

Sharing information

The summit also discussed other strategies for tackling the problem of paper mills more broadly, including organizing an awareness day or week for researchers, as well as identifying ways for publishers to share relevant information on suspected paper mills — for example when publishers simultaneously receive submissions — without breaching data-protection rules.

STM is continuing to develop its own paper-mill detection software, while also collating resources on similar tools available elsewhere through its integrity hub. The apparent rise in paper mills increases demand for such techniques — both for detecting fake papers at the point of submission and for identifying those that are already published.

Taylor & Francis is among the publishers that are making use of such tools, and Alam says that a growing number of ethics cases — instances of potential misconduct that are flagged for further investigation — are being escalated to her team. Roughly half of these cases are because of paper mills, according to Alam. Her team saw the number of ethics cases increase more than tenfold from 2019 to 2022 — and so far this year, there have been almost as many cases as during the whole of 2022. “It seems to have been commercialized and scaled up,” she says.

Nature 618 , 222-223 (2023)

doi: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-023-01780-w

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