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Enhancing Library Research and Comprehension Skills in City Studies

Selecting and Synthesizing Scholarly Texts in City Studies Debates

The learning objective of this assignment is to enhance library research and reading comprehension skills by selecting, synthesizing, and appraising scholarly texts in major debates in City Studies. Students are required to write a review essay of four (4) texts, one chosen from a thematic section of their choice in the City Reader and three individually researched peerreviewed journal articles. Things to keep in mind: Do not simply summarize each reading. The objective is to carefully synthesize the arguments, discuss the contribution of the texts to a wider debate, and highlight differences and similarities among the four texts. Make the individual texts “talk” to one another. The idea here is that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Please don’t underestimate the importance of careful research here.

You want to select four texts that clearly connect to one another and that advance our knowledge on specific topic. You also want to be able to explain how the texts relate to one another and what the overarching organizing principle of your essay is. For instance, you can select readings/authors that engage in a debate (e.g., over the origins of cities; over the role of the creative class in economic development, etc.) or you might want to focus on the evolution of a particular literature or concept over time. What’s important here is that you know why you selected the four texts and how they relate to one another.

  • Aim for approx. 1200 words, double-spaced, 12-point font (use word count)
  • Include page numbers
  • Put your name, student number, course code and TA name on the top of the first page (no cover page)
  • Provide an interesting title for your essay
  • Indicate somewhere at the end of the assignment which citation style you have used and provide a word count.

Properly cite all four sources and make sure that your bibliography is complete with full publication data for each source. Review the University’s Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters (link provided on syllabus).

Please do not use the above as actual subheadings. This is a recommended structure, not a suggestion for actual subheadings. Use paragraphs and clear paragraph transitions to internally structure your essay. A short essay like this one doesn’t require subheadings.

This assignment allows you to gain a deeper understanding of important debates in the field of City Studies. You are encouraged to carefully review all thematic sections and individual chapters in the City Reader and choose one reading that interests you. There are no restrictions, let your intellectual curiosity guide you. From that reading, you will develop a research topic andidentify additional readings (peer-reviewed journal articles) you want to include in your review essay. Please consult the research skills worksheet on how to develop an essay topic from the reading chosen.

  • Pick a reading from the Routledge City Reader that interests you. You can choose the ones we read or a new one. This is up to you. Pick something that interests you. Do not pick a reading from the course syllabus that is not part of the syllabus.
  • Do your research carefully. You want to find three peer-reviewed journal articles that are connected to the reading from the City Reader you have chosen. Only include research articles from peer-reviewed journals. Do not include short book reviews or other formats sometimes also published in academic journals.

Also read the Editor’s Introduction to the City Reader chapter you have chosen. They might also provide names of other scholars working on similar issues. You can then see if you find journal articles written by these scholars.

  • Some research databases also have a “Cited By” function. You can identify scholarswho have cited the author/text from the City Reader.
  • Do not rush the above process. It is not unreasonable to go through 30+ texts to selectthe three you want to include in your essay. Select texts where the connection is very clear to you as the researcher. Prioritize social science and urban studies/geographyjournals.
  • You can always consult a UTSC librarian when you need support with the library research.
  • In your introduction, explain what the objective of your review essay is. What do you hope to show by bringing the four texts together and discussing them in relation to one another? The clearer you are yourself on this, the more convincing your discussion willbe.

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