Assessing Literature Reviews


In this episode, I discuss three ways I assess literature reviews: comments posted to a Word document linking to pages in, Grammarly, and a (provisional) grade. Newsletter: Assessing Literature Reviews – Benjamin L. Stewart ( 

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For those taking Thesis Seminar, I have completed feedback for your literature reviews at this point in the writing and research process. The types of feedback you will receive are as follows: comments listed in Word, writing issues detected by Grammarly, and a percentage grade.

Comments Listed in Word

The comments in Word are by far the most useful forms of feedback, in my opinion. Often, I will include a link within the comment where I suggest you go to find more on the topic: Literature Review Guide, M.E.A.L. Plan, Introduction Paragraph, Transitional Paragraph, APA Guide, and Thesis Statement, among others. Usually, I will post a comment once, expecting that you then search for any reoccurring instances of the same error to fix on your own. A good practice is to find one case where I have suggested a change to your text, let’s say on the topic of words to avoid, and then find additional words to avoid from the Literature Review Guide and locate perhaps other instances where changes to your text might be necessary (i.e., undetected cases where words to avoid were being used).


Grammarly is a mixed bag. On the one hand, it does a decent job detecting some obvious writing issues such as subject-verb agreement, passive voice, punctuation errors, etc. On the other hand, simply relying on all the suggested changes would be a grave mistake when writing an academic mistake and could actually worsen the final draft. Also, there are cases where I leave comments in Word that relate to structural or organizational changes and require a rewrite before any Grammarly check would be useful. Consider the following three scenarios to determine which would best apply to your own case:

Scenario #1: You receive a Grammarly check of your text along with my comments in Word and you determine there are sections that need to be reorganized. You take into consideration the issues detected by Grammarly when you restructure or reorganize and rewriting your text.

Scenario #2: You receive a Grammarly check of your text along with my comments in Word and you determine that the organization is fine, but changes to your mechanics are necessary. You check one-by-one each writing issue detected by Grammarly and determine if a change is needed, first taking into consideration comments that were left in Word.

Scenario #3: You do not receive a Grammarly check of your text, which is more than likely because there were enough changes needed to the text’s overall organization that a Grammarly check would be of little use.

Regardless of the three scenarios listed above, Grammarly checks can be conducted upon request throughout the writing process.

Percentage Grade

Each of you will receive a PDF file of your Word document submission with my comments along the right side of the text. The PDF file name will have your name, an underscore, and a number: 80 indicates 80% (or 8 on a scale of 1-10), 90 indicates 90% (or 9 on a scale of 1-10), etc.

Published by Benjamin L. Stewart

I´m an EFL teacher educator and foreign language coordinator at the Universidad Autónoma de Aguascalientes in Mexico.

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