Film, TV and Performing Arts: COMM 3067: Science Fiction Film and Television

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This Assignment Help will help you in finding information for assignment 2 - Literature Review

For this assignment, you are required to research and write a Literature Review in response to one of the Course Topics (e.g. Women and Science Fiction, Disastrous Futures, Science Fiction Television). Your Literature Review must provide an overview and critical evaluation of at least 6-8 scholarly references (academic books, academic book chapters, peer-reviewed journal articles).

Please refer to your Course Outline and LearnOnline site for full assessment information.

1. Understand literature reviews

This short (approx 2 mins) video from the Steely Library at Northern Kentucky University provides a quick introduction to literature reviews.

  • Literature = scholarly publications (e.g. journal articles, research reports, government reports or text books) which have been written on a particular topic, theme or idea 
  • The review = the careful selection of literature relevant to your topic and the presentation, interpretation, classification and evaluation of this literature 

In the literature review you will:

  • Identify a gap in existing knowledge, that is, you will identify what we still need to know about this topic or issue
  • Pose a question related to this gap (this will be your research question)
  • Compare and contrast different authors’ views on an issue
  • Note areas in which authors are in disagreement
  • Highlight gaps
  • Identify any particular shortcomings of past research

In this way, your literature review becomes a critical discussion of the knowledge or ideas related to your research topic. 

Your literature review becomes an essential link in your research project: 

  • The literature review provides the reader with all the important background information needed to understand your project
  • It places your project as one link in a chain of research that is developing knowledge in your field. To understand where you are going, it is important to understand what came before you
  • It demonstrates to the reader that you are aware of up-to-date and important knowledge on your topic
  • It may also be used to justify or provide a rationale for your research question, your research framework or your methodology

An annotated bibliography

  • In an annotated bibliography the writer presents a summary and critical evaluation of each article or scholarly resource one by one
  • There is little or no connection made between the various articles or resources

An essay

  • In an essay you are given a topic to discuss or a question to answer and the writing is organised around responding to that topic or question
  • The essay progresses in a linear way, where you present your first point, followed by an explanation which is supported by the literature
  • You then move on to the second point and so on
  • In an essay the literature has a supporting role; whereas, in a literature review it is the literature itself which is the subject of discussion

The body of your literature review will be organised in a way that best suits your topic

  • Historically/chronologically - If you are looking at the evolution of a concept or practice overtime or evaluating whether a concept from 20 years ago holds up today, then a historical or chronological organisation might be appropriate
  • Research questions - Some writers organise their literature review around the research questions
  • Themes - A very common way to organise the literature review is according to key themes which emerge from the literature in relation to your topic

2. Plan your search

Planning your search will help you find information more efficiently. Start by:

  •  Identifying the main concepts in your research topic.
  •  Thinking of any alternative concepts or synonyms for each concept.
  •  Connecting your concepts together using AND and OR to form a search.

A table or mindmap can be a useful strategy for doing this. 

For example, you could create the table below if your topic was

Women and Science Fiction

Main concepts

Concept 1

Concept 2
Science Fiction

Synonyms (similar concepts)




space fiction

space opera

Tip: As you search, you may come across more concepts or synonyms you can incorporate. Don't be afraid to change or modify your search as you go.

3. Connect your keywords

Now you need to connect your search concepts together to form different search strategies. The below table summarises how they work:

Operator words What it does Example
  • Narrows your search.
  • The more concepts you connect with AND the more focused your search will become.
Women AND "science fiction"
  • Broadens your search.
  • Includes results that use different terminology.

"Science fiction" OR

sci-fi OR "space fiction" OR "space opera"

  • Removes concepts from a search.
  • Not recommended as you can potentially eliminate relevant results.
"Science fiction" NOT aliens

Remember to use "quotation marks" to keep phrases together.

Test your knowledge

Try the activity below to check your understanding of using operator words.

Watch or read the below for more information on how to put together a search using operators:

Watch Plan your search (2min 26s)
Read: How to plan your search (pdf)
View the Writing your assignment page for more info on interpreting your topic and planning your search

4. Start your search

Once you've built a search strategy, you can apply it in search tools. Check out the example searches below.

   Library collection

The Library collection can be a useful starting point in locating information.

Put your search in the basic search box and group your alternative keywords inside brackets.

Alternatively, use the advanced search to split your concepts on to different rows.

Use Refine my results on the left hand side to narrow your results. The following are useful refinements to try:

  • Show Only - Peer-reviewed journals
  • Resource Type - Book chapters
  • Publication Date - limit to the last 10 years

The Library collection does not list everything we have access to. Try a database when you are not finding relevant results in the collection or if you want to restrict your results to a specific discipline, topic area or material type.

Here is an example within ProQuest Central. Proquest Central is a multidisciplinary database covering 160 subject areas including film, media, screen and cultural studies. Ensure you only use references from this database that are from the relevant subject areas as you may find a reference from an unrelated subject area that seems relevant but might not be appropriate to include in your literature review.

Example Advanced Search

  • Put a different concept on each line
  • Use OR to connect any similar terms (synonyms)

  • Tip: Use the Find it button to locate full text articles
   Google Scholar

Try Google Scholar to find scholarly information. An advantage of Google Scholar is that it provides access to the full text of many UniSA scholarly (academic) articles if you connect via the link above or from the Library home page.

The Advanced search option gives more flexibility when you search. To access it, select the hamburger menu (three lines) in the top left corner of Google Scholar. This menu will appear once you do an initial search in Google Scholar.

Here is an example:


BrowZine™ allows you to easily access and browse journals available online via UniSA. Access via Library homepage > Journals.

For your literature review, it is important that your references are from relevant sources. Within BrowZine, from the left-hand menu you can filter down to Arts and Humanities > Film and Media Studies to browse through Film and Media Studies journals. 

   Identifying key scholars on your topic
  • Step 1:
  • Perform a library collection search on your chosen topic

  • Step 2:
  • If you find a good reference, take a note of the author and scroll down the page to find the item record details

  • Step 3
  • Select the author link. This will search the library collection for other references by this author. As you continue your search, take note of names which appear alongside that author such as co-authors. You may want to look at other references by these authors, too.

  • Step 4:
  • Look for authors that have been cited within the items you retrieve from the library collection as well as the dates of their major works.  

  Task: Follow the steps above to find information on the author within this journal article 

5. Choose quality references

Use the following resources to evaluate the references you find to determine if they are suitable for use in your literature review.

Watch Scholarly Sources Explained  (2 min 22)
Watch Evaluating Information  (3 min 17)
Read: How to Find Scholarly Sources (pdf)

6. Write your literature review

Use the tips below to flesh out each section of your literature review.

  • The decision to include a brief introduction in your literature review will depend on the topic area, length of the research project, and any instructions or templates provided by your lecturer
  • The length of the introduction will depend on the word requirement for your research project report or paper (it could be just a couple of sentences or it could be several paragraphs)
  • Set the context and inform the reader of the purpose or focus of the research project
  • Sign post to the reader what will be covered
  • You may want to also inform the reader of how you went about the process of conducting the literature review so that the reader can be assured of the rigour of your process
  • Lead the reader through your ideas and understandings
  • Have clear sections and subsections to your literature review
  • Ensure that each paragraph has one clear idea
  • Use sign posting, transitioning and linking language to connect ideas and to move from one paragraph to the next
  • Summarise the main focus of the literature review
  • Highlight the gap in the literature
  • Make a connection between your literature review and your research questions

More help

7. Referencing support

Need help referencing? Follow the roadmap!

Referencing Roadmap (Harvard)
Need help with the Harvard UniSA referencing style? Check out the Referencing Roadmap for in text-citations and reference examples from different sources such as articles, books, chapters, websites, and more.

Other referencing support tools:

  • Referencing hub
    Information around what referencing is, paraphrasing, referencing rules, referencing styles and Academic Integrity. Also includes a link to the Harvard Referencing Guide UniSA (pdf)
  • Referencing forum
    Discuss referencing, exchange advice and post questions and answers about referencing (facilitated by Student Engagement Unit)