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Voice examples


Here are some examples that show you how voice is developed in the literature review.



Title image – Examples

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Voice examples: the ‘hands on hips’ stance

Example 1:Voice in the topic sentence

The literature of contemporary theory related to the body, identity and consumption is vast and stimulating, but decidedly underutilised in fashion studies. In 2000 Joanna Entwistle² wrote of the fissure (she terms it a gulf) between production and consumption and between practical and theoretical studies and proposed “a study of fashion/dress as situated bodily practice…a framework for future sociological analysis.” Yet such trans-disciplinary studies remain in their infancy.

Errey, Sophia (2010) PhD Thesis

How do we ensure that our voice is heard in a literature review? We’re going to analyse four pieces of text to see how the writer’s authority is demonstrated.

First, as in this example, the topic sentence of a paragraph should be your statement, not a citation from others. Make your ideas and arguments central. In this paragraph, the writer’s voice is also strongly heard at the end.

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Voice examples: the ‘hands on hips’ stance

Example 2:Cite supporting evidence

NGOs could demand transparency and accountability of states and promote human rights. Glasius, Kaldor and Anheier (2006:21) also recognised a third approach which has been popular, one which emphasises civil society as contributing social capital through the participation of people in voluntary associations. Similarly, Ottaway and Carothers (2000) and Grugel (2000) noted the social capital and democratic rationales for civil society involvement in development, but added a different third rationale—contributing to peace, conflict resolution and human rights.

Hunt, Janet (2008) PD Thesis

In this second example, the writer, Janet Hunt, has grouped together researchers who agree with her contention. They offer supporting evidence for her view. She shows she is familiar with the ideas in her field, and she knows how those ideas relate to her own.

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Voice examples: the ‘hands on hips’ stance

Example3 :Setting up debate

[Claim]The present thesis adopts the view that resources alone do not constitute Competitive Advantage (CA),[end of claim][Opposing views] a view not held by some. For example, Kay (1993) identified that resources become a source of CA when applied to industries or brought to market. Williams (1992) described management as specifically one of converting resources into something of value to customers, which involves identifying, developing, protecting and deploying a firm’s resource base (Amit & Schoemaker, 1993). [end opposing views][Supporting evidence] In contrast, researchers (Fahy, 2000; Fahy & Smithee, 1999; Khalifa, 2004; Slater, 1996) noted that value to customers is imperative to attaining CA, and is an antecedent to superior firm performance (Slater, 1997; Tan & Smyrnios, 2003). For example … [end supporting evidence]

Tan, Caroline (2007) PhD thesis

Listen to Takseng Kho reflect on his developmental process to become a successful candidate. His former supervisor, Professor Doug Swinbourne, then suggests an essential ingredient for the ‘successful’ voice of authority.

Third, in this example the authoritative voice is demonstrated when Caroline Tan addresses opposing findings or positions, by setting up a debate. Notice how she states her claim in the topic sentence, follows with referenced opposing views, and then presents even more sources (more up to date sources, incidentally) to support her claim. And notice the powerful effect of the linking words, in green.

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Voice examples: the ‘hands on hips’ stance

Example 4 :respect the work of others

Smith (2008) is an unreliable source of information because his research is confined to a particular time and context that can never be replicated – that of war-torn Rwanda. In addition, who in their right mind would consider that ten respondents could provide a significant result?

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Smith’s (2008) research is confined to an examination of one ethnic group in a time of great change. Profile information about the ten respondents providing data, however, is not available, so it is difficult to generalise their experiences beyond this singular context as we have been asked to do.

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Finally, the academic voice not only refers to the authority of your own views; it is also demonstrated by showing respect for the views of others, even when you don’t agree. Never attack the person. In this example it’s not acceptable to call Smith ‘an unreliable source. Instead, focus on evaluating the work. That is, talk about the research itself and its limitations.

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Voice: text comparisons

Text 1: ‘He said, she said’ (Geraldine)

…Mortimore (1998) also contributes to the school effectiveness research agenda. He explains that school effectiveness researchers aim to ascertain whether differential resources, processes and organisational differences affect student performance and if so, how? He is also of the view that school effectiveness researchers seek reliable and appropriate ways to measure school quality. Hopkins (2001) suggests that one of the earliest studies that was done compared the effectiveness of some secondary schools on a range of student outcome measures. Reynolds and Cuttance (1992) also point out that the effective schools research entitled “Fifteen Thousand Hours” characterised school efficiency factors as varied in the degree of academic emphasis, teacher’s action in lessons, the availability of resources, rewards [...] They emphasise that effective school researchers claim that there are significant differences between schools on a number of different student outcomes after full account has been taken of pupil’s previous learning history and family background. Hargreaves and Hopkins (1991) also endorse this view by stating that there is evidence to support the argument that...

Now we’ll look at three different texts, and work out which has more authority and why.These examples come from Kamler and Thompson’s Helping doctoral students write.First, Geraldine’s text: We can see that this writing reflects Geraldine’s inability or lack of confidence in contributing her voice to the literature. She’s fallen into the trap of ‘he said she said’, as you can see in the red text, simply reporting on different authors’ contributions. This is how most of us begin, before we realise that we actually do have a contribution to make. However this is descriptive writing. It is not critical writing.

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Voice: text comparisons

Text 2: ‘Stuffed full of literature’ (Vera)

According to Belsey (2002:57),Jaques Lacan reinterpretedFreud in the light of Levi-Strauss and Saussure – 'to delineate a subject was itself the location of a difference'. Belsey goes on to explain that, for Lacan, the human being is 'an organism in culture'. According to Lacan, speech was central to psycho-analytic practice. He argued that during the first two months of life, a child's emergent sense of self was formed in relation to subjects, capable of signifying. Lacan calls this the 'Otherness of language'. 'The big other', states Belsey, 'is there before we are, exists outside us and does not belong to us'. The early writing of Barthes, says Norris (1982:8), was aimed at a full-scale science of the text, modelled on the linguistics of Saussure and the structural anthropology of Levi-Strauss.

In this text by Vera, there’s also no authorial control. It’s stuffed full of the literature. All of Vera’s references have equal weight and this makes it very confusing. What is the relationship between the writers and how do they relate to Vera’s work? What is Vera’s work? There seems to be no point to this text. Vera has not yet worked out who these people are in relation to her work and even to each other.

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Voice: text comparisons

Text 3: ‘Just right!’ (Anne)
[topic sentence]The casting of politicians as policy leaders assumes that a public servant, senior or otherwise, is a ‘servant’ to the public, but more to the point, a servant to the minister. [end topic sentence][information prominent citation, synthesis, claim and support for claim][Senior public servants have been regarded as instruments of political processes but with a severely limited role in policy formulation (Wilson, 1999). This theoretical orientation is consistent with new corporate management ideologies that are believed to foster a stronger separation between public administration and politics but, as I will argue, do more to motivate bureaucrats to seek a more direct role in government policy. As Cohn (1997) suggests, under such arrangements ministers rely on deputies and other senior administrators to provide direction and advice on policy, but the actual decisions are made at a political level.[end information prominent citation, synthesis, claim and support for claim][qualifying the claim] In framing policy development in this way, there is some recognition of the role of the permanent public service, to be sure, but it is one of implementation, stopping short of policy formulation. [end qualifying the claim]

Here, Anne shows a hands-on-hips stance. She believes in her own thinking and experience. She treats other writers and thinkers as collaborators, even as contributors to her own work. Anne is definitely in control. Notice the strong topic sentence that shows Anne’s voice. Notice the information prominent point of view, which Anne analyses and then synthesises with other strategic trends, to suggest a likely consequence. Anne uses Cohn to back up this claim, and the last sentence qualifies and consolidates her claim.Now open up some of the pdf activity files under the Activities tab, think through the questions and check the answer keys. Choose some in your discipline or an associated discipline. Also check out voice in other disciplines. We can discover what we ‘know’ about writing by contrasting it with not so familiar discourse. And Remember - You’ll find lots more online discussion and examples about voice in Research Writing.