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

Published on January 2, 2023 by Shona McCombes .

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, 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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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 .  

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A literature review is a document or section of a document that collects key sources on a topic and discusses those sources in conversation with each other (also called synthesis ). The lit review is an important genre in many disciplines, not just literature (i.e., the study of works of literature such as novels and plays). When we say “literature review” or refer to “the literature,” we are talking about the research ( scholarship ) in a given field. You will often see the terms “the research,” “the scholarship,” and “the literature” used mostly interchangeably.

Where, when, and why would I write a lit review?

There are a number of different situations where you might write a literature review, each with slightly different expectations; different disciplines, too, have field-specific expectations for what a literature review is and does. For instance, in the humanities, authors might include more overt argumentation and interpretation of source material in their literature reviews, whereas in the sciences, authors are more likely to report study designs and results in their literature reviews; these differences reflect these disciplines’ purposes and conventions in scholarship. You should always look at examples from your own discipline and talk to professors or mentors in your field to be sure you understand your discipline’s conventions, for literature reviews as well as for any other genre.

A literature review can be a part of a research paper or scholarly article, usually falling after the introduction and before the research methods sections. In these cases, the lit review just needs to cover scholarship that is important to the issue you are writing about; sometimes it will also cover key sources that informed your research methodology.

Lit reviews can also be standalone pieces, either as assignments in a class or as publications. In a class, a lit review may be assigned to help students familiarize themselves with a topic and with scholarship in their field, get an idea of the other researchers working on the topic they’re interested in, find gaps in existing research in order to propose new projects, and/or develop a theoretical framework and methodology for later research. As a publication, a lit review usually is meant to help make other scholars’ lives easier by collecting and summarizing, synthesizing, and analyzing existing research on a topic. This can be especially helpful for students or scholars getting into a new research area, or for directing an entire community of scholars toward questions that have not yet been answered.

What are the parts of a lit review?

Most lit reviews use a basic introduction-body-conclusion structure; if your lit review is part of a larger paper, the introduction and conclusion pieces may be just a few sentences while you focus most of your attention on the body. If your lit review is a standalone piece, the introduction and conclusion take up more space and give you a place to discuss your goals, research methods, and conclusions separately from where you discuss the literature itself.



How should I organize my lit review?

Lit reviews can take many different organizational patterns depending on what you are trying to accomplish with the review. Here are some examples:

What are some strategies or tips I can use while writing my lit review?

Any lit review is only as good as the research it discusses; make sure your sources are well-chosen and your research is thorough. Don’t be afraid to do more research if you discover a new thread as you’re writing. More info on the research process is available in our "Conducting Research" resources .

As you’re doing your research, create an annotated bibliography ( see our page on the this type of document ). Much of the information used in an annotated bibliography can be used also in a literature review, so you’ll be not only partially drafting your lit review as you research, but also developing your sense of the larger conversation going on among scholars, professionals, and any other stakeholders in your topic.

Usually you will need to synthesize research rather than just summarizing it. This means drawing connections between sources to create a picture of the scholarly conversation on a topic over time. Many student writers struggle to synthesize because they feel they don’t have anything to add to the scholars they are citing; here are some strategies to help you:

The most interesting literature reviews are often written as arguments (again, as mentioned at the beginning of the page, this is discipline-specific and doesn’t work for all situations). Often, the literature review is where you can establish your research as filling a particular gap or as relevant in a particular way. You have some chance to do this in your introduction in an article, but the literature review section gives a more extended opportunity to establish the conversation in the way you would like your readers to see it. You can choose the intellectual lineage you would like to be part of and whose definitions matter most to your thinking (mostly humanities-specific, but this goes for sciences as well). In addressing these points, you argue for your place in the conversation, which tends to make the lit review more compelling than a simple reporting of other sources.

How to Study English Literature

Last Updated: January 4, 2023 References Approved

This article was co-authored by Alexander Ruiz, M.Ed. . Alexander Ruiz is an Educational Consultant and the Educational Director of Link Educational Institute, a tutoring business based in Claremont, California that provides customizable educational plans, subject and test prep tutoring, and college application consulting. With over a decade and a half of experience in the education industry, Alexander coaches students to increase their self-awareness and emotional intelligence while achieving skills and the goal of achieving skills and higher education. He holds a BA in Psychology from Florida International University and an MA in Education from Georgia Southern University. There are 10 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 36 testimonials and 100% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 388,797 times.

English Literature is a complex subject, and many students end up having to study it at some point. With so many things to keep track of, it can feel overwhelming to even decide where to start. Whether you’re studying for a test, an AP exam, or a college course, you can take some steps to help you achieve your goals.

Laying the Groundwork

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Re-reading Your Texts

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Making Useful Notes for Fiction and Drama

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Making Useful Notes for Poetry

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Handling Difficult Texts

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Become an English Literature Professor

About This Article

Alexander Ruiz, M.Ed.

To study English literature, always take notes as you read, which will make it easier to recognize themes and connect the dots in the text. Also, highlight important passages that you can use as evidence when you make claims about the story. It's also helpful to make profiles for each main character as you read so you can analyze their character arc after you finish the story. If you think something a character says is important, add it to their profile. For more tips, like how to look for figurative language in English literature, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Frequently Asked Questions about Literature

What is literature ‎.

Literature is a word-based art form, usually a work of fiction. Works of literature include poems, plays, short stories, novels, and stories that are written down. Some are transcribed from oral tradition while many are original works of writing. Scholars and historians often categorize these works by language, genre, historical period, theme, and region. ‎

Why study literature? ‎

There are several advantages to studying literature, notably the way it builds critical thinking skills and increases cultural awareness. Literature is a window into the human experience, allowing readers to visit places and understand events that may be inaccessible through other means. Reading stories and poems also is entertaining and provides a stress-reducing escape from the world around you. ‎

What beneficial outcomes can I expect if I study literature? ‎

Studying literature changes the way you view the world and yourself. When you read a novel set in another country or depicting customs from other cultures, you may discover similarities between these faraway places and your own neighborhood that help you make sense of cultural differences. A story may spark an interest in a specific topic that can lead to a new hobby or career. Analyzing the way writer’s use words builds your vocabulary and boosts your ability to look for patterns and trends—even outside the context of a story. ‎

What career opportunities can arise from studying literature? ‎

The communication and critical thinking skills you develop from studying literature can lead to a variety of career opportunities like a promotion or a job in a different field. Connecting with characters in a story develops empathy, an important skill for anyone who works in a management or supervisory role. Analyzing the use of language in a story can improve your own language and communication skills, which make you a better team member. ‎

How can online courses help me study literature? ‎

Online courses create an opportunity for you to study literature more deeply than you would by reading on your own. Knowing you have deadlines to meet motivates you to make reading a priority and increases the chance that you'll finish the story. You can choose a specific genre or theme to explore in-depth. The coursework of an online class may guide you to see different perspectives and ask questions that you may not otherwise consider. ‎


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Enjoy our books. Much more information and our a huge short story collection can be found on the frames version of Bibliomania .

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Noise and Health

Noise pollution is more than a nuisance. It's a health risk

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Airplanes pierce the night. Leaf blowers interrupt fall mornings. Quiet gives way to air conditioners, pounding music, construction equipment, street traffic, barking dogs, sirens.

For half a century, U.S. agencies such as the EPA have deemed noise pollution “a growing danger to the health and welfare of the Nation’s population.” The European Environmental Agency reports that noise ranks second only to air pollution as the environmental exposure most harmful to public health.

Yet, in sectors from government regulation to health care practice, the threats posed by noise remain “often underestimated,” according to the International Commission on Biological Effects of Noise.

Researchers and clinicians are trying to change this. They’ve shown that noise pollution not only drives hearing loss, tinnitus, and hypersensitivity to sound, but can cause or exacerbate cardiovascular disease; type 2 diabetes; sleep disturbances; stress; mental health and cognition problems, including memory impairment and attention deficits; childhood learning delays; and low birth weight. Scientists are investigating other possible links, including to dementia.

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Research also reveals how noise pollution connects with climate change. Many contributors to global warming generate noise, chief among them transportation and fossil fuel extraction and processing. Urban sprawl and deforestation destroy natural carbon absorption reservoirs while removing natural sound buffers. Technologies that help people deal with climate change, like air conditioners and generators, can be noisy. Conversely, certain climate mitigation strategies such as creating green spaces in concrete jungles offer opportunities to muffle noise.

Wanted: better models

Estimates hold that chronic noise exposure contributes to 48,000 new cases of heart disease in Europe each year and disrupts the sleep of 6.5 million people. Quantifying noise pollution’s contribution to health problems and death in the United States, however, remains a challenge because of poor measuring and monitoring, says Peter James, an HMS associate professor of population medicine in Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Institute’s Department of Population Medicine. This makes it harder to determine the best policies and medical practices for care.

“The U.S. hasn’t really funded noise control or noise research since the 1980s,” says James. “It’s a big problem. We need to prioritize this so we can really pin down how noise affects health.”

To say the onus is on the individual to fix their noise exposure is not feasible.

James helps colleagues apply existing noise modeling data to large cohort studies, such as the Nurses’ Health Study, to analyze participants’ noise exposures and health outcomes. The models have low resolution, however, and working with them can be frustrating: researchers can’t be sure whether a negative finding means noise doesn’t contribute to a particular outcome, such as something as seemingly unrelated as menopause onset, or the data weren’t robust enough to reveal a connection. James hopes to augment epidemiological data with input from participants using sensors and apps, which can deliver precise location and health information.

“Given what we do know, noise is too significant an issue for us to sit around and wait to have perfect data,” he says.

James led a seminal 2017 study, published in  Environmental Health Perspectives , which shows that people in neighborhoods with low socioeconomic status and higher proportions of residents of color bear the brunt of noise pollution in this country.

“We want our patients to reduce their exposure as much as possible, such as wearing ear plugs or investing in soundproofing insulation, but that’s not possible for many who live in the noisiest areas,” he says. “To say the onus is on the individual to fix their noise exposure is not feasible.”

Heart, felt

Another branch of inquiry focuses on how vibrations from noise can cause impairments. Part of the answer lies in the stress-response system. Researchers have found that the more people are bothered by noise, the greater the health risks they face from it. Yet, even those who tune out noise pollution, whether when awake or asleep, experience autonomic stress reactions.

Ahmed Tawakol, an HMS associate professor of medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, and Michael Osborne, an HMS instructor in medicine at Mass General, have used advanced PET scanning to show that transportation noise is associated with heightened activity of the amygdala relative to regulatory cortical regions. Amygdalar activity can trigger stress pathways, including inflammation, that can lead to cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. Participants with a higher ratio of amygdalar to cortical activity had more risk for adverse outcomes in follow-up. The link persisted even after accounting for other disease risk factors.

In the clinic, Tawakol and Osborne say that evidence supports strategic intervention rather than trying to squeeze questions about noise into each patient encounter.

“If a patient mentions noise as a cause of stress, especially if they have or are at risk of cardiovascular disease, I’d certainly recommend personal noise mitigation strategies and stress reduction techniques,” Osborne says.

As researchers reveal the mechanisms and magnitude of noise-induced illness, clinicians will become better equipped to identify at-risk patients and prescribe effective solutions.

Stephanie Dutchen is manager of feature content and multimedia in the HMS Office of Communications and External Relations.

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Greetings from an evangelist for a declining field: literature!

English majors, like all humanities majors, are on the wane. In the US alone, one-third of the degrees from liberal arts colleges were awarded in the humanities before 2011; now just one-quarter are . At research universities, humanities degrees have dropped from seventeen percent to eleven percent.

So, in some ways, it makes sense that the study of literature is less popular. But guess what else is on the outs? Empathy. A study which analyzed 15,000 college students found that they’re scoring 40 percent lower in empathy than those in the past.

What’s the connection? I’ve spent the past two decades in the classroom teaching literature, and what I deeply believe — and what the emerging field of literary neuroscience is beginning to prove — is that literature makes us more empathetic.

Are we frustrated or sympathetic with Hamlet’s reluctance to avenge his father? When Jane Eyre realizes Mr. Rochester is married, do we urge her to flee Thornfield, or to stay?

During engaged reading, we compare the protagonist’s actions to what we’d do in a similar situation or what we’ve done in the past. The mind-reading we do when thinking through a character helps us develop social sensitivity, as demonstrated ingeniously by the “reading the mind in the eyes” test. In this study , participants were presented with a series of gray-scale photos cropped to reveal only a person’s eyes. They were then asked to identify the expression contained in the eyes from four options. Turns out, regular readers of fiction scored higher on this test, and I think it’s because reading gives us practice taking on another’s point of view. We may stereotype bookworms as paste-eating, socially awkward loners, but reading literature helps us read the room.

How do books pull off their magic trick of transporting us into another person’s body? Taking a look at the brain — specifically, the multiple regions that engage and coordinate when we read — gives us a clue.

One of my favorite authors is Jane Austen, and in one of my favorite studies , literature PhD students were given a Jane Austen novel to read — but not on a couch. Instead, they read the Austen inside a fMRI Machine, which depicts brain activity by detecting changes in blood flow. Natalie Phillips, the literary scholar who worked on the study, hypothesized that the subjects, while reading, would experience an increase in blood to the areas of the brain responsible for processing language. To her surprise, the students experienced a dramatic global increase, with blood flowing to areas that have nothing to do with processing language.

Say you read a passage about running through a forest. You’d expect the left temporal lobe, the area responsible for language processing, to light up. It does — but so does the frontal lobe’s motor cortex, which coordinates the body’s movements. In fact, it lights up in the same way it would if you were actually running. Say you read the words “lavender” or “coffee” or “cinnamon.” You’ll experience the activity we’d expect in your left temporal lobe but you’d also have activity in your olfactory cortex, which lights up in the same way it would if you were actually smelling those scents.

This kind of activity doesn’t happen with fact-based nonfiction, such as political journalism, movie reviews or Ikea bookshelf assembly manuals. That Ikea manual might result in a cool bookcase, but if you want to light up your brain like fireworks on the Fourth of July, you need to stock that bookcase with Jane Austen (and read it).

Is there any practical application to this increased brain connectivity? What if I told you that empathy we feel for characters could make people less racist?

That what was demonstrated by Dan Johnson, who used Saffron Dreams , a novel from the point of view of a Muslim-American woman, to see if empathetic reading could reduce racial bias. For his study , Johnson divided the participants into two groups. Half of them read a 3,000-word excerpt from the novel. The other half read a 500-word synopsis of that excerpt, which retained all the facts but none of the character’s rich interior life, dialogue or metaphors, or sensory details that make a book come alive. Afterwards, participants were presented with photos of what Johnson described as “ambiguous Arab-Caucasian faces,” some of which appeared angry. When asked to identify the race of the person in the photo, participants who read the fact-based synopsis were disproportionately likely to categorize the angry faces as Arab. This bias was absent among those who read the lush, transporting excerpt.

Children, too, can improve their opinions about stigmatized groups through reading, as proven in a study using the first Harry Potter book in Italy, a country where immigrants are often stigmatized. The control group read a passage in which Harry gets his first wand. The other group read a passage relating to prejudice, in which Draco Malfoy, a shockingly blond pure-blood wizard, calls Harry’s friend Hermione “a filthy little Mud-blood.” A week later, the children’s attitudes were assessed, and those who’d read the passages dealing with prejudice had significantly improved attitudes towards immigrants.

These findings make me think of the students in my office who are struggling over whether or not to choose to be an English major because they want to be successful. If by “success,” they mean the highest average starting salary, perhaps I should lead them from the English building towards the Business Administration building. But if success means helping to create a more harmonious world, pull up a chair.

I know some folks play fantasy football; I play fantasy fiction seminar and my “players” are those most in need of the heightened brain connectivity that literature induces — namely world leaders and policymakers. Imagine if, before initiating aggressive military action, leaders had to read a novel from the point of view of an enemy combatant. Imagine if, before cutting social services, legislators had to inhabit the interior life of a person who is on welfare. Imagine if leaders couldn’t set a prison sentence or create immigration policy until they’d aced my midterm. We would have a world in which decisions are informed by empathetic imaginations, processed by brains experiencing increases of blood flow to multiple areas of the brain.

I’ve been discussing all the ways that literature educates us emotionally, cognitively and spiritually, but I’d like to end with what it does for us hedonistically.

Don’t read because it’s good for you. Read because it’s good. Doesn’t it taste so good to suck a novel’s sweet juice? Reading not only helps us feel — it helps us feel better. Books make us less isolated. As James Baldwin once put it, “You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read.”

The best takeaway from literary neuroscience is that our beautiful brains are tremendously malleable. We can change our minds, literally.

So why not give it a try? Go lose yourself in a book. Which is also to say: Go find yourself. And, while you’re at it, find the rest of us, too.

This article was adapted from a TEDxUniversityofMississippi Talk. Watch it here:

About the author

Beth Ann Fennelly is the poet laureate of Mississippi and teaches in the MFA Program at the University of Mississippi, where she was named Outstanding Teacher of the Year. Her sixth book, Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs (W. W. Norton) was an Atlanta Journal Constitution Best Book of 2017. Learn more at http://www.bethannfennelly.com

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“T he universe (which others call the Library) is composed of an indefinite, perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries.” That’s how Jorge Luis Borges starts The Library of Babel , beloved by maths geeks and book nerds alike for the way it toys with the mathematical concept of infinity.

I liked the short story so much I nicked its main idea when I started my Libreria bookshop, blanketing the store’s insides with mirrors to trick you into thinking you are in a “perhaps infinite” space. (The mirrors require a near infinite amount of cleaning, but there we go.)

As for maths professor Sarah Hart, she’s so enthralled by the ways her academic field has enriched the work of poets and novelists that it is the subject of her ebullient debut book. “By seeing mathematics and literature as complementary parts of the same quest to understand human life and our place in the universe, we immeasurably enrich both fields,” she writes.

She’s not wrong. Some of Hart’s examples will be familiar to readers – such as the way numerology shapes the structure of Eleanor Catton’s Booker prize-winning The Luminaries , or how maths puzzles are dotted throughout Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (written by a maths professor, of course).

Most, however, were new on me. I’ve read Moby-Dick , but the references to mathematical curves known as cycloids totally passed me by. Hart does a great job of showing how Melville’s epic work “abounds with ideas that a mathematically attuned eye can detect and explore” (which probably explains why I missed them), and these can “add an extra dimension to our appreciation”.

It’s the same with Middlemarch – I didn’t register that the mocking of Mr Brooke includes a clever little mathematical construct: “We all know the wag’s definition of a philanthropist: a man whose charity increases directly as the square of the distance.”

As Hart rightly points out, “The world of mathematics is a glorious source of metaphors” – and “once you are on the lookout, you’ll see [maths] everywhere”.

Hart uses Melville and Eliot to make a broader argument about how “the perceived boundary” between maths and other creative arts “is a very recent idea”, and that “for most of history, mathematics was part of every educated person’s cultural awareness”. That’s why these writers felt comfortable using mathematical ideas – and they also knew their readers were similarly attuned.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the book looks at little-known works, such as the slim volume by French writer Raymond Queneau that was published in 1961 and somehow contains a 100 trillion poems. Queneau managed to squeeze in that many by printing 10 sonnets with each line capable of being combined with any from the nine others, creating a preposterously large number of possible poems.

As Hart suggests, it raises some interesting philosophical questions, such as whether can we say Queneau wrote all of these potential sonnets, or in what sense the different poems even exist at all. Small wonder Hart makes the bold claim that poetry is “simply the continuation of mathematics by other means”.

The book is not perfect – like a messy mathematical theorem, it could have done with being stripped back and made shorter, more elegant. But you can’t help but be won over by Hart’s playful exuberance – and she’s up there with Richard Dawkins or Marcus du Sautoy in having the rare gift of being able to explain thorny scientific ideas using canny cultural references.

At a time when the British education system is becoming suffocatingly narrow, with arts and music being dropped by schools, and our universities falling behind America in encouraging multidisciplinary studies, Once Upon a Prime is a joyous reminder of the way so much human creativity comes from joining the dots between seemingly disparate fields.

Hart helps bring to life what she calls “the enduring conversation between literature and mathematics” – encouraging us to read and roam more widely, whether it is scientists getting stuck into novels, or fiction-lovers throwing themselves at maths conundrums. I’ve no idea if you’ll end up happier if you follow her advice. But one thing’s for sure, as Hart herself warns: “You’re going to need a bigger bookcase.”

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What Literature Can Teach Us

Communication and research skills—and how to be a better human being

Literature is a term used to describe written and sometimes spoken material. Derived from the Latin word  literature  meaning "writing formed with letters," literature most commonly refers to works of the creative imagination, including poetry, drama , fiction , nonfiction , and in some instances, journalism , and song. 

What Is Literature?

Simply put, literature represents the culture and tradition of a language or a people. The concept is difficult to precisely define, though many have tried; it's clear that the accepted definition of literature is constantly changing and evolving.

For many, the word literature suggests a higher art form; merely putting words on a page doesn't necessarily equate to creating literature. A canon is the accepted body of works for a given author. Some works of literature are considered canonical, that is, culturally representative of a particular genre (poetry, prose, or drama).

Literary Fiction vs. Genre Fiction

Some definitions also separate literary fiction from so-called "genre fiction," which includes types such as mystery, science fiction, western, romance, thriller, and horror. Think mass-market paperback.

Genre fiction typically does not have as much character development as literary fiction and is read for entertainment, escapism, and plot, whereas literary fiction explores themes common to the human condition and uses symbolism and other literary devices to convey the author's viewpoint on his or her chosen themes. Literary fiction involves getting into the minds of the characters (or at least the protagonist) and experiencing their relationships with others. The protagonist typically comes to a realization or changes in some way during the course of a literary novel.

(The difference in type does not mean that literary writers are better than genre fiction writers, just that they operate differently.)

Why Is Literature Important?

Works of literature, at their best, provide a kind of blueprint of human society. From the writings of ancient civilizations such as Egypt and China to Greek philosophy and poetry, from the epics of Homer to the plays of William Shakespeare, from Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte to Maya Angelou , works of literature give insight and context to all the world's societies. In this way, literature is more than just a historical or cultural artifact; it can serve as an introduction to a new world of experience.

But what we consider to be literature can vary from one generation to the next. For instance, Herman Melville's 1851 novel " Moby Dick "   was considered a failure by contemporary reviewers. However, it has since been recognized as a masterpiece and is frequently cited as one of the best works of Western literature for its thematic complexity and use of symbolism. By reading "Moby Dick" in the present day, we can gain a fuller understanding of literary traditions in Melville's time. 

Debating Literature 

Ultimately, we may discover meaning in literature by looking at what the author writes or says and how he or she says it. We may interpret and debate an author's message by examining the words he or she chooses in a given novel or work or observing which character or voice serves as the connection to the reader.

In academia, this decoding of the text is often carried out through the use of  literary theory using a mythological, sociological, psychological, historical, or other approaches to better understand the context and depth of a work.

Whatever critical paradigm we use to discuss and analyze it, literature is important to us because it speaks to us, it is universal, and it affects us on a deeply personal level. 

School Skills

Students who study literature and read for pleasure have a higher vocabulary, better reading comprehension, and better communication skills, such as writing ability. Communication skills affect people in every area of their lives, from navigating interpersonal relationships to participating in meetings in the workplace to drafting intraoffice memos or reports.

When students analyze literature, they learn to identify cause and effect and are applying critical thinking skills. Without realizing it, they examine the characters psychologically or sociologically. They identify the characters' motivations for their actions and see through those actions to any ulterior motives.

When planning an essay on a work of literature, students use problem-solving skills to come up with a thesis and follow through on compiling their paper. It takes research skills to dig up evidence for their thesis from the text and scholarly criticism, and it takes organizational skills to present their argument in a coherent, cohesive manner.

Empathy and Other Emotions

Some studies say that people who read literature have more empathy for others, as literature puts the reader into another person's shoes. Having empathy for others leads people to socialize more effectively, solve conflicts peacefully, collaborate better in the workplace, behave morally, and possibly even become involved in making their community a better place.

Other studies note a correlation between readers and empathy but do not find causation . Either way, studies back the need for strong English programs in schools, especially as people spend more and more time looking at screens rather than books.

Along with empathy for others, readers can feel a greater connection to humanity and less isolated. Students who read literature can find solace as they realize that others have gone through the same things that they are experiencing or have experienced. This can be a catharsis and relief to them if they feel burdened or alone in their troubles.

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What is literature.

Literature can be described as a body of written work with artistic or intellectual value. In addition to genre, literature can be categorized by narrative technique or writing style. Literature can be fiction or nonfiction; it can also be poetry or prose. Long-form novels, short stories, and dramas are other examples of literary works. And, literature is often contextualized by region or the period in which it was written.

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An introductory course may require learners to read and analyze well-known literary works such as The Jungle , Pride and Prejudice , and Dracula , as well as significant authors in literature from different periods and regions. 

Individuals who study literature develop comprehensive written and spoken communication skills, and learn to argue a viewpoint, frame a narrative, and analyze various levels of meaning. Depending on the course, learners may explore specialties such as comparative, contemporary, or modern world literature. Individual courses and degree programs may also focus on topics such as theater writing, creative writing, or sacred texts.

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Professionals with a background in literature are well-equipped for careers in a variety of industries. Some may further their studies in subfields like English, American, or French literature, and ultimately become postsecondary educators. Others may use their English literature credentials to pursue careers in library science, digital publishing, media and journalism, marketing and public relations, anthropology, sociology, research, linguistics, translation services, speech pathology, or political speech writing. 

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Last updated February 2023

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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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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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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literature and study

literature and study

Nationalist academic Robin Mathews fought for Canadian literature to be taken seriously

Robin Mathews. Courtesy of the Family

When Robin Mathews began his teaching career at the University of Alberta in the 1960s, he wanted courses at Canadian universities to be more reflective of the country's literature and society. Courtesy of the Family

Robin Mathews was a controversial figure in the 1970s who came to prominence in the nationalist struggle to have Canadian literature taken seriously as an area of study. He had a passionate belief in the uniqueness of Canada’s dual-language literary culture that began with the emergence of the country’s first homegrown novels, especially Wacousta (1832). In that literature, he saw the search for community as an overarching theme in contrast to U.S. literature, which he saw as a celebration of self-seeking individualism.

Universities, he argued, must teach Canada’s unique viewpoint to protect our culture from being smothered by that of the United States.

In the 1960s, when he began his teaching career at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, it was possible in Canada to earn a BA or even a doctoral degree in English without ever reading a Canadian novel.

He wanted courses to be offered, programs created, research funded, articles and textbooks written about our own literature and society. But these goals, in his view, could not be reached if Canadian universities continued to hire PhDs from Britain and the U.S. with scant knowledge of Canada.

For two decades, from his position as a literature professor at Carleton University, he sent forth denunciations of the curricula and hiring practices of universities as well as writing some 20 slim books of rabble-rousing poetry, plays, essays and polemics. He co-founded the Great Canadian Theatre Company, a still-existing Ottawa troupe that mounts only Canadian plays, and established two small presses, which published many of his books. His energy was formidable.

Robin Mathews died of pancreatic cancer on April 25 at his Vancouver home, at age 91.

On weekends he flew at his own expense to other universities where he was invited, usually by student groups, to speak about the importance of learning to understand our own culture.

The writer and teacher Joyce Wayne recalled hearing him speak at her university in Windsor, Ont. “He came to give a speech when I was in first year, and there were no courses at Windsor in Canadian literature,” she said. “A couple of us transferred to Carleton after hearing him. I took his introductory course in Canadian literature in 1969. I couldn’t name one Canadian author before that.”

Ms. Wayne recalled that “his course was packed. He was a showman and he was charismatic. He carried this worn little suitcase full of Canadian books.”

His students adored him and enjoyed dropping in at the Mathews home in Ottawa, where they might encounter visitors from Quebec such as labour leader Madeleine Parent, or the poets Milton Acorn, Dorothy Livesey, Lorna Crozier. “If you were hungry, you could always get a meal there,” recalled Ms. Wayne, who eventually earned an MA in Canadian literature. “They kept an open house. Robin was generous and the students from Quebec really liked him because he spoke French and understood nationalism the same way they did.”

Half of his books were collections of political poetry, often marred by reckless overstatement such as this, from Think Freedom :

Think Daniel Ortega

His revolution beaten to death

By murdering Yankees.

They drink the blood of children

From goblets of gold.

His most consequential book, however, contained no poetry. Assembled and edited jointly with his colleague James Steele, it was The Struggle for Canadian Universities (1969), a dossier of memos, letters, speeches, articles and letters-to-the editor about the sharp increase of foreign professors teaching here, and the effect of this on scholarship dealing with Canadian subjects. Some accused him of xenophobia, though the two editors were careful to state that they believed the expertise of foreign professors was needed at our universities, so long as they did not become the majority.

Robin Daniel Middleton Mathews was born in Smithers, B.C., on Nov. 1, 1931, the youngest of six children of English immigrants Harold and Margaret (née Tulley) Mathews. His father was a music teacher and composer who earned little money during the Depression. His mother had worked at a department store in London as a sales clerk, then a model and a buyer. “She actually had a professional life,” said Sabrina Mathews, Robin Mathews’s daughter. The family moved to Powell River, on the Sunshine Coast, where Robin grew up.

Robin Mathews with his son Hrothgar. Courtesy of the Family

Robin Mathews with his son Hrothgar. Courtesy of the Family

After high school, he went to the University of British Columbia in Vancouver where the English department was headed by the eminent poet and critic Roy Daniells, editor of the Literary History of Canada and president of Canada’s Royal Society. The undergraduate took an Honours degree in English, writing a thesis on Matthew Arnold. At UBC, he met Esther Leir, an energetic young woman from Penticton preparing to be a teacher of physical education, though she later switched to social work. They married in November, 1958; the first of their three children was born in Vancouver.

He worked for a time as a producer for CBC Radio, before leaving for a year to do his Master’s degree at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, with a thesis on Henry James.

The family then moved to Toronto where he studied for his PhD at U of T under Northrop Frye, the leading literature scholar of his time. Prof. Frye was held in awe by his students – except for Robin Mathews. He pointed out publicly after Prof. Frye gave the 1962 Massey Lectures ( The Educated Imagination ) that in his talks about the central importance of literature, he quoted not one Canadian poet or writer.

Offered a teaching job at the University of Alberta, Prof. Mathews abandoned his doctoral degree. His first book of poetry was published during the five years the family lived in Edmonton.

In the mid-60s the Mathews family moved to England where Prof. Mathews taught English literature at Leeds University, and later spent time in France during the radical student protests of 1968. His teaching career exclusively in Canadian literature started soon after at Carleton.

Using census data and other sources on academic appointments, Prof. Mathews and his colleague James Steele determined that 72 per cent of hires at a sample group of Canadian universities went to non-Canadians between 1965 and ‘67, and may have been as high as 86 per cent the year following. The new universities such as York and Simon Fraser, which had to staff up quickly, recruited aggressively abroad.

The noise Prof. Mathews made about this situation had an effect. The federal government eventually introduced new rules that academic positions had to be advertised within the country before recruitment abroad. Thomas Symons, the first president of Trent University was appointed to chair a commission that held more than 40 hearings across the country to determine the future of higher education in the country. Prof. Symons’s voluminous 1975 report titled To Know Ourselves endorsed the Canadianization of universities.

As the number of professors specializing in Canadian literature grew, Prof. Mathews, with literary biographer Sandra Djwa, started a learned society, the Association for Canadian and Quebec Literature.

“He gave us a forum to discuss Canadian writing and grow the discipline,” Prof. Djwa said in an interview. “It was generously funded by the Canada Council; it gave us funding that previously all went to studying Shakespeare and D.H. Lawrence. It allowed us to get our discipline off the ground. More than 200 people came to the first meeting.”

Prof. Mathews also found time in 1979 to run for a seat in Parliament as an independent. (He lost.)

In 1985, he applied for an academic exchange to teach at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, an established university procedure. The English faculty there, which included the poet Robin Blaser, had to vote whether to accept him; they turned him down. Prof. Blaser, who went on to be a two-time winner of Griffin prizes for his poetry, had been born in the U.S., though he was now a Canadian citizen. He had played an important role in the San Francisco poetry renaissance in the 1960s that reshaped poetry in Vancouver. Prof. Mathews had written harshly about Prof. Blaser and his supposedly malign American influence, and his criticism was not forgotten.

The unprecedented rejection caused a mini scandal and Margaret Atwood, David Suzuki, NDP leader Ed Broadbent all spoke out in favour of Prof. Mathews but to no avail. He was not wanted on the SFU English faculty.

According to Prof. Djwa, later head of the department, it was the president of SFU, William Saywell, who finally solved the impasse by suggesting that Prof. Mathews come to SFU to teach in the Canadian Studies faculty. Prof. Mathews taught there for five years before he retired.

In his last years he continued writing and rediscovered painting, which he had enjoyed in his youth. His artwork covered the walls of the family cottage on Saturna Island. At their East Vancouver home, he cared tenderly for his wife, Esther, when her health began to fail.

He leaves Esther; his remaining sister, Bettie Bagnall; his daughters, Sabrina and Rosamond; son Hrothgar; seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

“Robin was an activist, and for the most part, academics dislike activists in their midst,” his former student Ms. Wayne said. “He paid dearly for his activism, for wanting to see change implemented rather than just talked about.”

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article stated incorrectly that Wacousta was the first Canadian novel. This version has been corrected to indicate that it was among the first but not the very first.

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Maureen Dowd: Don’t ditch literature as Frankensteins are on the march

The humanities are faltering, but we can’t deal with artificial intelligence unless we cultivate and educate the non-artificial intelligence that we already possess.

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A 1953 Edition of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Artificial intelligence is in its infancy - and hurtling towards its rebellious teenage years, writes Maureen Dowd. Photograph: Lion Books, 1953/Carl H. Pforzheimer Collection of Shelley and His Circle, The New York Public Library via The New York Times

Maureen Dowd's face

By the time I took off my mortarboard two weeks ago, my degree in English literature was de trop. Instead of a Master of Arts, I should have got a Master of Algorithms.

As I was pushing the rock up a hill, mastering Donne, Milton, Shakespeare, Dickens, Joyce and Mary Shelley, I failed to notice that the humanities had fallen off the cliff.

It was as if the bottle of great wine I saved to celebrate my degree was bouchonné.

The New Yorker ran an obituary declaring “The End of the English Major”. One English professor flatly told Nathan Heller, the writer of the 10,000-plus-word magazine piece, that “the Age of Anglophilia is over”.

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The Harvard English department handed out tote bags with slogans like “Currently reading” and dropped its poetry requirement for an English degree. But it was too late for such pandering. Students were fleeing to the hotter fields of tech and science.

“Assigning ‘Middlemarch’ in that climate was like trying to land a 747 on a small rural airstrip,” Heller wrote.

Trustees at Marymount University in Virginia voted unanimously in February to phase out majors such as English, history, art, philosophy and sociology.

How can students focus on slowly unspooling novels when they have disappeared inside the kinetic world of their phones, lured by wacky videos and filtered FOMO photos ? Why should they delve into hermeneutics and epistemology when they can simply exchange flippant, shorthand tweets and texts?

In a world where brevity is the soul of social media, what practical use can come from all that voluminous, ponderous reading? Would braving Ulysses help you pay the rent the way coding could?

Who is a better guide to covering presidential politics than Shakespeare? Reading his history plays should be mandatory for anybody with a dream of power

I wish I could adopt the attitude of Drew Lichtenberg, who has taught theatre history at Catholic and Yale universities. “We should hail the return of the arts and humanities to bohemian weirdos,” he said. “It began as something for which there were no career opportunities or money to be made, and thence it will return. Like Gertrude Stein’s circle in the Jazz Age. Or like Baudelaire, Rimbaud and the symbolist poets in the fin de siècle.”

But I find the deterioration of our language and reading skills too depressing. It is a loss that will affect the level of intelligence in all American activities.

Political eloquence is scarce. Newt Gingrich told Laura Ingraham that the secret to Donald Trump’s success is that “he talks at a level where third-, fourth- and fifth-grade educations can say, ‘Oh yeah, I get that.’”

My most precious possession from my time at Columbia University is a green Patrón box stuffed with slips of paper on which I scribbled the new words I learned.

Limerence . Peloothered . Clinchpoop. Chthonic. Sillage. Agnation. Akratic. Leptodactylous. Chiasmus. Caesious. Pythoness. Pettifogger. Paronomasia. Dithyramb. Propugnaculum. Adumbrate. Remembrancer. Meridional. Prehensile. Aeternitatis. Scrupulosity. Supererogatory. Anagnorisis. Spatiotemporal. Sialoquent. Alterity. Floccinaucinihilipilification .

And who is a better guide to covering presidential politics than Shakespeare? Reading his history plays should be mandatory for anybody with a dream of power.

Strangely enough, the humanities are faltering just at the moment when we’ve never needed them more.

Americans are starting to wrestle with colossal and dangerous issues about technology, as artificial intelligence begins to take over the world. And we could use an army of thoughtful English majors to help sort it out.

“There is no time in our history in which the humanities, philosophy, ethics and art are more urgently necessary than in this time of technology’s triumph,” said Leon Wieseltier, the editor of Liberties, a humanistic journal. “Because we need to be able to think in nontechnological terms if we’re going to figure out the good and the evil in all the technological innovations. Given society’s craven worship of technology, are we going to trust the engineers and the capitalists to tell us what is right and wrong?”

It is not only the humanities that are passé. It’s humanity itself.

We are at the mercy of lords of the cloud, high on their own supply, who fancy themselves as gods creating life. Despite some earnest talk of regulation, they have no interest in installing a kill switch. AI is their baby, hurtling toward the rebellious teenage years.

Is this really the moment for literature departments to make Frankenstein and Paradise Lost obsolete?

Elon Musk said his friendship with Larry Page, one of the founders of Google, fractured when Musk pressed his case about the dangers of AI and Page accused him of being a speciesist who favoured humans.

AI can be amazing; it just discovered an antibiotic that kills a deadly superbug. But it may also eventually see us as superbugs.

We can’t deal with artificial intelligence unless we cultivate and educate the non-artificial intelligence that we already possess.

It is not only the humanities and humanity that are endangered species. Our humaneness has shrivelled. The duelling Republican clinchpoops, Trump and Ron DeSantis, are nasty and pitiless, “the unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable,” as Oscar Wilde described fox hunting.

[  Finn McRedmond: Why you should do an arts degree  ]

Republicans have consecrated themselves to a war against qualities once cherished by many Americans. Higher principles – dignity, civility, patience, respect, tolerance, goodness, sympathy and empathy – are eclipsed.

Without humanities, humanity and humaneness, we won’t be imbuing society with wisdom, just creating owner’s manuals. That would be a floccinaucinihilipilification.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times .


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REVIEW article

This article is part of the research topic.

Challenges and Solutions in the Urban Renewal Process

Critical barriers and countermeasures to urban regeneration from stakeholder perspective: A literature review

  • 1 School of Economics and Management, Tongji University, China
  • 2 Department of Building and Real Estate, Faculty of Construction and Environment, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong, SAR China

The final, formatted version of the article will be published soon.

Urban renewal involves a wide range of stakeholders with diverse expectations and interests. Conflicts in urban renewal projects arise from intricate relationships among multiple stakeholders, hindering the urban renewal process. With a large amount of current literature examining the barriers, difficulties, and solutions in urban regeneration, a critical review is required to holistically summarize these main concerns and challenges from the stakeholder perspective. Based on 347 journal papers collected from the Web of Science core database, this study investigates the development, trajectory, and tendency of prior studies through a bibliometric analysis. Then, a critical review is documented with eight critical barriers in the economic and social aspects from the stakeholder perspective. To address these issues, this study proposes a strategic framework for value creation, collaborative governance, and benefit sharing. Accordingly, future research agendas are also presented. This study could provide researchers with a systematic understanding of the critical barriers and potential strategies in urban regeneration fields.

Keywords: urban regeneration, Stakeholders, sustainability, collaboration, bibliometric analysis

Received: 04 Dec 2022; Accepted: 02 May 2023.

Copyright: © 2023 LIAO and Liu. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY) . The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Ms. Menglan Liu, School of Economics and Management, Tongji University, Shanghai, 200092, Shanghai Municipality, China

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World Literature Today Announces Finalists for 2024 Neustadt International Prize for Literature

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A collage of photographs of the Neustadt finalists for 2024.

World Literature Today , the University of Oklahoma’s award-winning magazine of international literature and culture, has announced finalists for the 2024 Neustadt International Prize for Literature . This prestigious award recognizes significant contributions to world literature and has a history as a lead-up to the Nobel Prize in Literature.

The nominees (with representative texts noted) for the 2024 Neustadt Prize, which carries a $50,000 cash award, are as follows:

Chris Abani (Nigeria) / Sanctificum Angie Cruz (U.S.) / How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water Ananda Devi (Mauritius) / Eve out of Her Ruins Jenny Erpenbeck (Germany) / The End of Days Nona Fernández (Chile) / The Twilight Zone Juan Felipe Herrera (U.S.) / Every Day We Get More Illegal Maxine Hong Kingston (U.S.) / The Woman Warrior Valeria Luiselli (Mexico) / Lost Children Archive Shahrnush Parsipur (Iran) / Women without Men

The finalists’ full bios can be found on the Neustadt website— neustadtprize.org .

Nine Neustadt jurors , all creative writers, chose the finalists; they will meet to choose the winner at the 2023 Neustadt Lit Fest, scheduled for Oct. 23–25. The literary festival is hosted by World Literature Today and the University of Oklahoma.

“We live in troubled times, and the Neustadt Prize, recognizing the best writers in the world, is a beacon of hope for the human adventure,” said Robert Con Davis-Undiano, executive director of World Literature Today , the sponsor of the prize. “Literature enhances our ability to recognize who we are and who we can become,” said Davis-Undiano, “and the work of the Neustadt jury year after year reflects the ongoing importance of literature in our lives.”

The prizewinner announcement will be made on Tuesday, Oct. 24, during the Neustadt Lit Fest, which this year honors Gene Luen Yang , laureate of the 2023 NSK Neustadt Prize for Children’s and Young Adult Literature. Festival events are free and open to the public.

The Neustadt Prize is the first international literary award of its scope to originate in the United States and is one of very few international prizes for which poets, novelists, screenwriters and playwrights are equally eligible. Since 1970, it has been awarded every other year to a living writer in recognition of a significant body of work. Past winners include Gabriel García Márquez, Czesław Miłosz and Edwidge Danticat. The 2022 Neustadt Prize winner was Senegalese writer Boubacar Boris Diop.

Winners of the Neustadt Prize are awarded $50,000, a silver replica of an eagle feather, a prize certificate and a festival hosted in their honor. A generous endowment from the Neustadt family supports the award. To learn more about the Neustadt prizes, visit neustadtprize.org .

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Losing a Brother in Martin Amis

By Ian McEwan

Portrait of Martin Amis.

A friend may ripen over the years into a sibling, and after forty-nine years I’ve lost a brother. Martin Amis’s reputation in the press—as coruscating wit, intellectual cool dude, controversialist—hardly touched the surface. Close up, he was tender, generous, warm, and heroically funny. His memory for people and past conversations was long. He was sweet and uncondescending with children and teen-agers. No journalist could have known or guessed that there was something magnificent about his last few months. Amid such suffering, he had no capacity for complaint or discussion of symptoms. He wanted nothing more than to get himself as comfortable as possible for a day of reading or time with close family. “I have no metaphysical fear of death,” he wrote to me, and then added, as if with a self-ironic smile, “(YET).” That fear never came, and I think he gave us a lesson in how to die—and in how to read him.

As a writer, too, he was fearless and superbly self-confident. An impostor once wrote a letter to Private Eye signing Martin’s name. To set the record straight, Martin began his own letter to the magazine with “I don’t write like that. I write like this.” Then he proceeded to demonstrate. The recent global outpouring of praise has been pleasing, but, for much of his life, Martin had to bear a venomous press. Journalists longed to be him, and, when fate denied them that role, they turned on him, portraying him, for example, as a vain fool who spent tens of thousands of dollars on his teeth. He took this as he did his cancer—without complaint. Years later, he told the story in his memoir, “ Experience .” No British dentist knew how to operate to resolve the serious condition of his teeth and gums. A dental surgeon in New York made the attempt and came close to needing to remove Martin’s jaw. Back in London, the vanity-teeth story took a long time to die, but Martin never pushed back.

As a novelist, he created a unique style, rhythmically and musically compelling, profoundly and often bleakly comic , and rich in social commentary. His prose was thick with superb neologisms and startling or beautiful imagery. He was a master of the lightning paradox. Thematically, he ranged from sexual mayhem to the routine distortions of the tabloid press to the descent into madness and industrialized cruelty of the Holocaust and the deepest depredations of Stalinism.

Martin was a very serious reader, right to the end. In his final months, he read the complete works of Edith Wharton . He wrote two weeks ago to say that he could no longer read with a pencil in his hand. That may have been his one important concession to his illness. Beyond the critical essays and journalism was a lovely taste for mischief, such as his proposal (made when he himself was in his sixties) for “euthanasia booths” for the elderly at the end of every street, which, to his wry amusement, prompted outrage and po-faced “thought pieces” in the British press. My favorite among many glorious Amis riffs was in a Q. & A. session. He was asked about the worst thing that had ever happened to him. He responded gravely that what truly wearied and bored him was that, when he returned home from a book tour, he was obliged to patiently explain to his family that henceforward the trailing end of the toilet paper must always be folded in a V, the way it was in American hotels.

Somehow, we will have to make do without this free spirit, who, in serious and comic modes, embodied all the possibilities of the unfettered imagination. In essence, the body of work he leaves behind is deeply humane. Like Dickens, he loved and revelled in the wild eccentricities of human nature. In the community of letters, Martin will become over time a brother to all his readers. ♦

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International Cooperation Boosts Prep for Invasive Insects Before They Arrive

Closeup of a black beetle with white spots and very long antenna (twice the length of its body), segmented in alternating black and white, viewed from behind while perched vertically on a green leaf, with more greenery in the background. 

New research shows how emphasizing collaboration and local knowledge in China can advance preparation for responding to invasive insects that could threaten North American tree species. Native to eastern Asia, the citrus longhorned beetle ( Anoplophora chinensis ) is one such species noted in the study, noted for its capacity to infest and kill live pecan trees ( Carya illinoinensis ). (Photo by Taiwan Waterbird Research Group, Changhua Coastal Conservation Action Alliance on Flickr , CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 )

By Carolyn Bernhardt

Previous research has shown that, between 2003 and 2012, insect pests affected more than 85 million hectares of forest worldwide, much of which was in temperate North America. Invasive insects tear through North American forest systems at such an alarming rate that the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced in January that it would spend over $70 million on beefing up pest detection, surveillance, and control systems and safeguarding the U.S. nursery system in 2023. The funding supports 350 projects led by universities, states, federal agencies, non-governmental organizations, nonprofits, and Tribal organizations across 48 states, Guam, and Puerto Rico.

And, for all the researchers working to prevent the spread of invasive pests and minimize their impact, studies that help anticipate and prepare for the arrival of invasives are just as crucial as conducting research that informs response measures.

“Routinely, when an invasive pest shows up, the authorities perform a mad scramble, pour money on it, and [direct scientists] to do monitoring, assessment, and delineation,” says Jiri Hulcr, Ph.D., an associate professor with the School of Forest, Fisheries, and Geomatic Sciences and the Department of Entomology and Nematology at the University of Florida. The approach, he says, only works with some pests. “In most cases, we find out about the bug months—if not years—after it has already killed thousands of trees.” So, he and his team want to “get ahead of that curve.”

For the past decade, Hulcr and his team have been committed to regrowing relationships across academics in China and the U.S. to better understand and, eventually, prevent the spread of invasive pests in both nations. But, despite a significant trade relationship, tension has mushroomed between China and the United States in recent years. And unfortunately, that very trade relationship helps drive the spread of invasive species in both countries.

“I can tell you, China is receiving an equal amount of pests from us,” Hulcr says. “The biggest source of invasive species is trade with live plants and trade supported by wood products, like pallets. So, it’s not these ‘evil beetles’ against us. It’s us all buying stuff at an unprecedented rate.”

In April, Hulcr and colleagues Yiyi Dong at UF and Jie Gao, Ph.D., at the Chinese Academy of Sciences published a meta-analysis in Environmental Entomology that combed both peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed literature published in China that reported on how insect species considered invasive in the U.S. interact with seven important North American commercial tree species planted in China.

The non-peer-reviewed literature that’s published in China, also called “grey literature,” was crucial to the project, according to Huclr. “Everyone can do a full-text search on Google in English, but this grey data published in Chinese remain inaccessible to us in the U.S.,” he says. “We are picking the brains of thousands of people by studying the gray literature.”

He also thinks the study helps fill gaps when resources aren’t available. “Lots of people are advising wisely to work with botanical gardens in China because they are already planting these ‘exotic’ North American trees, and we could potentially observe wood borers on that,” he says. But botanical garden managers use heavy pesticide spray and rarely analyze dead trees for pests before removing them. Instead, Hulcr and his team focused their meta-analysis on places where people plant trees and observe the tree’s lifespan, which includes noticing “interesting bugs,” such as schools, municipalities, and scientific institutions.

A flow chart illustrating the connections betwee tree species and insect families. Green bars on left are labeled Quercus texana, Quercus virginiana, Quercus rubra, Carya illinoinensis, Pinus elliottii, Pinus taeda, and Liquidambar styraciflua. Blue bars on right are labeled Cerambycidae, Coccinellidae, Elateridae, Lucanidae, Buprestidae, Curculionidae. Teal bars on right are labeled Hepialidae, Limacodidae, Metarbelidae, Cossidae, Sesiidae, Pyralidae, Tortricidae, Crambidae. Yellow bars on right are labeled Tenthredinidae, Formicidae. Orange bar on right is labeled Termitidae. Color key on right shows orange is Blattodea, yellow is Hymenoptera, teal is Lepidoptera, and blue is Coleoptera.

A meta-analysis by researchers at the University of Florida and the Chinese Academy of Sciences combed both peer-reviewed and non-peer-reviewed literature published in China that reported on how insect species considered invasive in the U.S. interact with seven important North American commercial tree species planted in China. Illustrated here are the host tree species and the reports of their insect pests at the family level. Left bars represent host plant species, and right color bars represent families and orders of wood-boring insects. The width of each grey link reflects the number of times the insect species was reported on the corresponding host plant in the dataset from the study. (Image originally published in Dong et al 2023, Environmental Entomology )

The researchers found 60 unique wood borer records covering four orders, 39 genera, and 44 species. Longhorned beetles ( Cerambycidae ) were the most reported colonizers of North American trees, far eclipsing reports of bark beetles. But, of course, the scientists could not have possibly researched the dozens of North American tree species planted in China, so they chose seven that are important in the U.S. landscape and timber industries. “Those seven are likely to trigger regulatory action if a pest on those trees shows up,” says Hulcr.

Finding so few bark beetle reports surprised Hulcr, but he thinks he understands where it comes from. “Big, fun-looking pests are reported much more commonly than little inconspicuous pests,” he says. Gaping tree holes and flashy beetles grab attention, but small beetles causing tree death make it difficult to link species to their impact. As a result, Hulcr notes that the grey literature “certainly has big biases, unquestionably.”

Hulcr also acknowledges that this meta-analysis only scratches the surface of China’s information on how its insects interact with North American tree species. For example, the team could only sample literature that had been digitized.

Chinese researchers, Hulcr says, possess extensive knowledge of American trees due to their efforts in the afforestation of fallow farmlands over the last century. “Sometimes [their approach is] misinformed because they are planting monocultures of one American species, which isn’t sustainable,” he says, “but in some cases they are establishing whole forests. Regardless, they are planting lots of American trees.”

Collaborating with overseas colleagues can also help American researchers overcome obstacles to sampling infested trees. “Trees there die, and somebody puts [them] away. That’s not something I can sample and turn into data,” Hulcr says. “We have to work with people on the ground through the [local] educational system and institutions that are there and [can record] the deaths.”

To Hulcr and his collaborators, the study represents a resourceful approach to efficiently investigating the potential threat of invasive wood borers to North American trees. It also highlights an untapped well of resources and the importance of digitizing and disseminating non-English literature.

“We are helping bring literature to daylight that would otherwise go unnoticed,” Hulcr says, “and we are turning these scattered individual reports and turning them into data that is now accessible to the mainstream global community of scientists.”

“ Insect wood borers on commercial North American tree species growing in China: review of Chinese peer-review and grey literature ”

Environmental Entomology

Carolyn Bernhardt, M.A. , is a  freelance science writer and editor  based in Portland, Oregon. Email: [email protected] .

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  13. Literature review as a research methodology: An ...

    This is important, as, independent of the type of approach, the quality of the literature is dependent on, among other aspects, what literature is included and how it was selected (Tranfield et al., 2003; Wong et al., 2013). Depending on these decisions, a study can end up with very different answers and conclusions to the same research questions.

  14. How literature

    Reading not only helps us feel — it helps us feel better. Books make us less isolated. As James Baldwin once put it, "You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read.". The best takeaway from literary neuroscience is that our beautiful brains are tremendously malleable.

  15. why maths and literature make a winning formula

    Prof Sarah Hart's exuberant study of the enduring conversation between mathematics and literature is fascinating

  16. Literature Courses

    Study poetry, prose, fiction and drama with our collection of literature courses and study guides. Each resource includes engaging video lessons in addition to quizzes and practice tests you can ...

  17. What Literature Can Teach Us

    Updated on January 30, 2020. Literature is a term used to describe written and sometimes spoken material. Derived from the Latin word literature meaning "writing formed with letters," literature most commonly refers to works of the creative imagination, including poetry, drama, fiction, nonfiction, and in some instances, journalism, and song.

  18. Learn Literature With Online Courses, Classes, & Lessons

    Literature course curriculum. An introductory course may require learners to read and analyze well-known literary works such as The Jungle, Pride and Prejudice, and Dracula, as well as significant authors in literature from different periods and regions.. Individuals who study literature develop comprehensive written and spoken communication skills, and learn to argue a viewpoint, frame a ...

  19. What is literature for? The role of transformative reading

    The theoretical-empirical TR model, the explorative study in Dutch literature classrooms, and the three design principles identified in a review of previous intervention studies enabled the design of a literature classroom intervention for 15-year-old students in the Netherlands, which aimed to foster their insights into themselves, fictional ...

  20. Covid-19 distance and online learning: a systematic literature review

    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 ...

  21. Department of Language and Literature

    [email protected]. 325-674-6440. The Department of Language and Literature encourages students to joyfully and critically engage texts, languages, and expressions of human nature from the most ancient to what just appeared on the web this week. With its diverse offering of programs and courses, our department prepares students to excel in the ...

  22. Steps in Conducting a Literature Review

    A literature review is an integrated analysis-- not just a summary-- of scholarly writings and other relevant evidence related directly to your research question.That is, it represents a synthesis of the evidence that provides background information on your topic and shows a association between the evidence and your research question.

  23. Nationalist academic Robin Mathews fought for Canadian literature to be

    Robin Mathews was a controversial figure in the 1970s who came to prominence in the nationalist struggle to have Canadian literature taken seriously as an area of study. He had a passionate belief ...

  24. AP English Literature and Composition

    AP English Literature and Composition is an introductory college-level literary analysis course. Students cultivate their understanding of literature through reading and analyzing texts as they explore concepts like character, setting, structure, perspective, figurative language, and literary analysis in the context of literary works.

  25. Maureen Dowd: Don't ditch literature as ...

    A 1953 Edition of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Artificial intelligence is in its infancy - and hurtling towards its rebellious teenage years, writes Maureen Dowd. Photograph: Lion Books, 1953/Carl ...

  26. Blockchain's Scope and Purpose in Carbon Markets: A Systematic ...

    The systematic literature review we performed could help decision- and policy-makers, startups, stakeholders and others involved or interested in the field of "3D's concept" to better understand blockchain's role and significance in carbon markets. This study also highlights research gaps and offers research directions.

  27. Frontiers

    Urban renewal involves a wide range of stakeholders with diverse expectations and interests. Conflicts in urban renewal projects arise from intricate relationships among multiple stakeholders, hindering the urban renewal process. With a large amount of current literature examining the barriers, difficulties, and solutions in urban regeneration, a critical review is required to holistically ...

  28. World Literature Today Announces Finalists for 2024 Neustadt

    World Literature Today, the University of Oklahoma's award-winning magazine of international literature and culture, has announced finalists for the 2024 Neustadt International Prize for Literature. This prestigious award recognizes significant contributions to world literature and has a history as a lead-up to the Nobel Prize in Literature.

  29. Losing a Brother in Martin Amis

    May 22, 2023. Photograph by Pari Dukovic / Trunk Archive. A friend may ripen over the years into a sibling, and after forty-nine years I've lost a brother. Martin Amis's reputation in the ...

  30. International Cooperation Boosts Prep for Invasive Insects Before They

    To Hulcr and his collaborators, the study represents a resourceful approach to efficiently investigating the potential threat of invasive wood borers to North American trees. It also highlights an untapped well of resources and the importance of digitizing and disseminating non-English literature.