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Writing a literature review

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adam webb

on 9 March 2015

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Transcript of Writing a literature review

Writing a literature review
Some things to consider when starting your literature review…
What are the criteria for the literature review assignment?
Criteria for the literature review (sources)
Scholarly journal articles;
Statistical resources, such as data from an official government resource or reputable organization (EPA, DOT, Census, CDC, NIH, UN, Statistical Abstract of the United States, etc.);
Criteria continued...
Magazine or newspaper articles from high quality sources such as Business Week, National Geographic, NY Times, Chicago Tribune;
Broadcast media such as NPR, PBS, BBC;
Specialty dictionaries and handbooks (Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, World Almanac);
Primary research.
Do NOT cite
: Wikipedia, general knowledge encyclopedias, general dictionaries, Opposing Viewpoints, Pro/Con, Current Controversies, etc.
The format for the literature review...
The entire project should follow APA/MLA format. Pay special attention to the following:
Standard APA title page requirements.
References in alpha order, strict APA/MLA format.
Format continued...
Times New Roman, Arial, or Georgia style, 12 pt. font, one inch margins all around
Write in third person, present, and past tense.
Every graphic should be labeled as a Figure or a Table and given a consecutive number: Table 1, Table 2, Figure 1, Figure 2, etc. Caption every graphic image.
Format continued...
You do not need to create an argument, instead you need to analyze the arguments, language, rhetoric and discourse presented in your sources.
Your job is to be informative.
You need to write a thesis sentence.
For example...
Sample thesis sentence:
In this essay, I will explore/investigate the rhetoric/discourse surrounding professors requiring freshmen students to volunteer within the community.
: Using "I" in your thesis sentence is okay...
You might want to make your research scope narrower...
Start “reading around,” searching for sources on your topic and thesis sentence...
What has been written on this topic?
Has someone already done research on your topic?
Using Google(?)
Using Google Scholar...
Using the library's databases...
Writing research questions...
For example...
Sample research questions based on the sample thesis sentence...

Research Question #1
How has the scholarship/sources addressed students volunteering within the community? What questions have been asked and what studies have been done?
Research Question #2
What are some advantages and disadvantages of students being required to volunteer within their community?
Research Question #3
What role has the community played in student-based volunteering?
Ask yourself if any of the sources that your are planning to use address your thesis sentence or research questions (your sources should address your thesis sentence and research questions).

If any of your sources have addressed your thesis and research questions, ask yourself how your focus is different?
Writing your introduction (First? Last? Create a “working introduction” plan to go back and forth in revising it) ... writing is recursive...
Using definitions, technical terms and acronyms...
Use definitions that are appropriate for your research purposes,
define and explain technical terms,
define and explain discipline-centered words, and
spell out all acronyms.
Write and writing with your audience and readers in mind...
Annotating or locating important quotes and passages from your sources to use in your literature review...
Synthesizing your direct quotations and paraphrased information...
Can you locate or identify any theme(s) in your sources?
Such as...
Based on the sample thesis sentence and three research questions presented earlier...

The concept of community...
Is there a “gap” that needs to be addressed in the previous research? If so, how can your research address it?
And now, a "schematic" of the literature review, following the American Psychological Association (APA) convention of writing...

Cover sheet (for APA only)
•Abstract (for APA only)
•The literature review (where the sources are synthesized and analyzed and contains these elements below):
o Introductory paragraphs with your thesis sentence
o Research Questions 1, 2, & 3
o Discussion on question 1 (multiple paragraphs)
o Discussion on question 2 (multiple paragraphs)
o Discussion on question 3 (multiple paragraphs)
o Conclusion (paragraphs)
•References (APA)/Works Cited (MLA)
Key Elements Checklist
Informative, NOT argumentative.
Thesis sentence.
Research questions.
Include one form of primary research (interview, survey, observational).
Include one visual representation of research (chart, graph, table).
Answer your research questions with multiple perspectives.
If so, make a mental note as to how the writers/researchers use language. How they use rhetoric (
, and
). How they form discourse on your topic.
How many pages is it?
Ask yourself
Who is their audience?
Did they convey their information effectively in their writing? How?
Does their research (i.e. sources) seem credible? Why?
If they have images such as graphs, charts or photographs along with their writing, how are they using them?

A sample format for a literature review could look like this...
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