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– Length: 8-12 pages total, excluding title page and references.
– Title Page: If working in a group, please include the name and student numbers
– Format: Typed, double spaced, 12pt Times New Roman with 1” margins on all sides.
– Referencing Style: ASA (See style guide on CourseLink).
– Please use subheadings for each section. This will help to organize your work.
– Wherever possible, write using your own words. Avoid using quotations unless
necessary. Cite where your information is coming from using in-text citations.
– Write using a third-person narrative style. Use a formal, professional, and non-
conversational tone. Avoid the use of contractions. Remember to edit your work.
Assignment 2 Instructions
This literature review is aimed at providing a background understanding of the field of research surrounding your topic. This will help you to justify and inform (and potentially refine) your research questions (RQs) and research design plans.
Generally, a literature review is an account of what research has been published on a topic. Literature reviews can be a part of the introduction to an essay, research report, or thesis, or a ‘standalone’ piece (which is what we’re doing). The goal of the literature review is to convey to your reader what knowledge and ideas have been established on a topic, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. A literature review summarises, interprets, and critically evaluates existing literature (published material) in order to establish the current state of knowledge of a topic. Literature reviews summarize and synthesize research studies on a particular topic in order to outline existing evidence, identify gaps in current research, and to establish the need for future research. Ultimately, for this class, the purpose of the literature review is to provide a background of your topic and to demonstrate the importance of your RQs.
If working in groups, you will require a minimum of 15 academic sources (3 per group member). If working independently, you will require a minimum of 9 academic sources.
Most literature reviews use a basic introduction-body-conclusion structure. Since this literature review is more of a ‘standalone’ piece, the introduction and conclusion will be longer and provide the opportunity for you to discuss your goals, research methods, and conclusions separately from where you discuss the literature itself. (In articles, the conclusion and introductions of the literature review are often just a sentence or two.)
The introduction establishes the context of your review to the reader. This section explains your topic and focus, outlines key concepts, provides any relevant background information, and explains the reason behind the literature review. List your original RQs.
The body of the literature review explains why the research topic is important and outlines what direction your review will take (what aspects of the topic you are focusing on). Most literature reviews describe only the main findings, relevant methodological issues, and/or major conclusions of key sources. If your project is built upon a theoretical perspective, this will be a part of your topic. The body is the longest section and accounts for the majority of the review.
The conclusion summarizes the key findings or themes you have noted in the literature and emphasize their significance. In this section, remember to point out any information you found particularly important. Also, note pertinent gaps in the research, methodological flaws, inconsistencies in findings (or theory), as well as the need for future research. Be sure to connect the literature back to your research questions. Note if the literature has motivated a refinement or change in the RQs. If so, state the new RQs.
Literature Review Considerations
While reading your sources and writing your literature review, remember to:
– Summarize and Synthesize
– Give an overview of the main points of each source.
– Take notes on the source’s usefulness, relevance, methodology, and/or findings (while keeping your RQs in mind).
– Weave these summaries into a coherent argument which is aimed at demonstrating the importance of your topic and research questions.
– Analyze and Interpret
– Avoid just paraphrasing other researchers. Where possible, add your own interpretations and discuss the significance of findings in relation to the literature as a whole.
– Critically Evaluate
– Mention the strengths and weaknesses of your sources, where relevant.
– Demonstrate Knowledge
– Show the reader what is known and what is not known about your topic.
– Indicate the need for future research (and importance of your RQs)
Level of Detail
How much summary or detail you provide on each source depends on its relevance to your topic, research questions, and research approach. Giving a source more space implies that it is more important to your research or the field more generally.
Some articles will only have a few of their findings mentioned briefly. Some will make similar contributions and will be merged into one reference. A particular sentence could touch upon many general findings and include the work of many authors.
Studies which are more closely related to your topic and/or approach will require more detail. Only a few important studies should be given this much space.
Organization of Body
Think about how you plan to organize the findings. There are many options. The best path forward will vary depending upon your particular topic, concepts, research questions, and the literature. Use subheadings to help organize the body of the literature review.
Some options include:
– Series of concepts related to your topic and RQs
– Central themes in the literature or findings
– Order of publication (chronology)
– Order of importance (salience)
– Different perspectives on an issue (or sides of an argument)
– Patterns within the purpose, goals, or conclusions of the research
– Qualitative versus quantitative approaches
Organize your information logically to address your topic and research questions. It is important to pick (or design or adapt) an approach that best suits your topic and literature. If one of these options does not fit well, that is fine. You are welcome to design your own approach to organize your literature. For instance, a part could be chronological, and then other sections could focus on different concepts (ordered by importance).
Having a plan about how to organize the findings early will help with the writing process. For instance, sorting your sources into themes found within their findings could lead to each theme becoming a paragraph in the body of the literature review. So, the themes you find can help to provide structure to the literature review and overall argument as to the importance of the topic and RQs. This plan could change too, depending on the content of the literature, and that’s okay.
Literature Review Tips
– Avoid listing articles and findings. Your review should read like a coherent paper. It needs to provide a narrative which demonstrates the context of your topic and leads the reader to appreciate the importance of your RQs. A simple list of readings will not do this in a compelling way.
– You do not need to provide a lot of detail about the procedures or methods used in your sources, unless this is relevant to your argument.
– Your literature review will only be as good as your sources. You may read articles that may not make it into the literature review. The task is to paint a picture of the current state of the literature and show why your RQs are important. This means reading and writing about the best sources for your topic, not just any sources in the area. Only include sources which are clearly relevant to your topic, RQs, and overall research project.
Pay attention to the lit reviews and bibliographies in the articles you read. An article
could include a handful of very useful sources. Also, if you see a work referenced in many
different articles, consider taking a look, as . ‘Biblio-mining’ is a handy way to help you
learn about a new area or field of research.
– A cover page with your name, student number, course number, course section, title of your assignment ad date.
– Include information for all group members.
– Describe your topic and focus, outline key concepts, and provide relevant background information.
– List original RQs.
Approximate Length: Up to 1 page
– Summarize and synthesize literature on your topic.
– Weave these summaries into a coherent argument which demonstrates
the importance of your topic and research questions.
– Analyze, interpret, and critically evaluate sources.
– Demonstrate what is known and what is not known about your topic.
– Indicate the need for future research (importance of RQs).
Approximate Length: 6 – 10 pages
– Summarize key findings or themes from the literature.
– Highlight information relevant to your proposed study.
– Note gaps in the research, methodological flaws, inconsistencies in
findings and the need for future research.
– Note if the literature has motivated a refinement or change in the RQs
or research plan. If so, state the changes.
Approximate Length: Up to 1 page
– Provide a bibliography which includes reference information for all sources you have drawn from. You do not need to reference lectures.
Approximate Length: 2 or more pages
– Write in well-structured paragraphs. Use transition words and topic sentence to draw connections, comparisons, and contrasts. Provide the reader with strong ‘umbrella’ sentences at beginnings of paragraphs, and brief ‘so what’ summary sentences at the end of paragraphs. This will help to strengthen the literature review and make it easier for the reader to understand the importance of your topic.
– Use intext citations. Avoid quotations unless in cases of important definitions or in instances where paraphrasing is not possible.
– Start this assignment early. A part of this project involves drawing connections between sources. It can take your mind time to see the connections necessary to organize the literature review, see gaps in the literature, etc. This will be difficult to accomplish in a meaningful way the night before the assignment is due.
– Copyediting always makes for stronger work (and higher grades). Have multiple group members edit the final publish. If working on your own, have a peer proof read your work. Pro Tip – Reading your work out loud can help. Often your ears will catch grammatical inconsistencies that your eyes may miss.
Questions to Consider
These questions, from the Texas Wesleyan University Library, are helpful tools to keep in mind while working on your literature review.
1. What is the specific thesis, problem, or research question that my literature review helps to define?
2. What type of literature review am I conducting? Am I looking at issues of theory? methodology? policy? quantitative research (e.g. on the effectiveness of a new procedure)? qualitative research (e.g., studies of loneliness among migrant workers)?
3. What is the scope of my literature review? What types of publications am I using (e.g.,
journals, books, government documents, popular media)? What discipline am I working
in (e.g., nursing psychology, sociology, medicine)?
4. How good was my information seeking? Has my search been wide enough to ensure
I’ve found all the relevant material? Has it been narrow enough to exclude irrelevant
material? Is the number of sources I’ve used appropriate for the length of my paper?
5. Have I critically analysed the literature I use? Do I follow through a set of concepts and
questions, comparing items to each other in the ways they deal with them? Instead of just
listing and summarizing items, do I assess them, discussing strengths and weaknesses?
6. Have I cited and discussed studies contrary to my perspective?
7. Will the reader find my literature review relevant, appropriate, and useful?
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