- Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper: 5. The Literature Review
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- Write a Literature Review: for Undergraduates - The Library: University of Waikato
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Chronology of Events If your review follows the chronological method, you could write about the materials according to when they were published. This approach should only be followed if a clear path of research building on previous research can be identified and that these trends follow a clear chronological order of development. For example, a literature review that focuses on continuing research about the emergence of German economic power after the fall of the Soviet Union.
By Publication Order your sources by publication chronology, then, only if the order demonstrates a more important trend. However, progression of time may still be an important factor in a thematic review. The only difference here between a "chronological" and a "thematic" approach is what is emphasized the most: the role of the Internet in presidential politics. Note however that more authentic thematic reviews tend to break away from chronological order.
A review organized in this manner would shift between time periods within each section according to the point made. Methodological A methodological approach focuses on the methods utilized by the researcher. For the Internet in American presidential politics project, one methodological approach would be to look at cultural differences between the portrayal of American presidents on American, British, and French websites. Or the review might focus on the fundraising impact of the Internet on a particular political party.
A methodological scope will influence either the types of documents in the review or the way in which these documents are discussed. Other Sections of Your Literature Review Once you've decided on the organizational method for your literature review, the sections you need to include in the paper should be easy to figure out because they arise from your organizational strategy. In other words, a chronological review would have subsections for each vital time period; a thematic review would have subtopics based upon factors that relate to the theme or issue. However, sometimes you may need to add additional sections that are necessary for your study, but do not fit in the organizational strategy of the body.
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What other sections you include in the body is up to you but include only what is necessary for the reader to locate your study within the larger scholarship framework. Here are examples of other sections you may need to include depending on the type of review you write:. Writing Your Literature Review. Once you've settled on how to organize your literature review, you're ready to write each section.
When writing your review, keep in mind these issues. Use Evidence A literature review section is, in this sense, just like any other academic research paper. Your interpretation of the available sources must be backed up with evidence [citations] that demonstrates that what you are saying is valid. Be Selective Select only the most important points in each source to highlight in the review. The type of information you choose to mention should relate directly to the research problem, whether it is thematic, methodological, or chronological. Related items that provide additional information but that are not key to understanding the research problem can be included in a list of further readings.
Use Quotes Sparingly Some short quotes are okay if you want to emphasize a point, or if what an author stated cannot be easily paraphrased. Sometimes you may need to quote certain terminology that was coined by the author, not common knowledge, or taken directly from the study. Do not use extensive quotes as a substitute for your own summary and interpretation of the literature. Summarize and Synthesize Remember to summarize and synthesize your sources within each thematic paragraph as well as throughout the review.
Recapitulate important features of a research study, but then synthesize it by rephrasing the study's significance and relating it to your own work.
Keep Your Own Voice While the literature review presents others' ideas, your voice [the writer's] should remain front and center. For example, weave references to other sources into what you are writing but maintain your own voice by starting and ending the paragraph with your own ideas and wording. Use Caution When Paraphrasing When paraphrasing a source that is not your own, be sure to represent the author's information or opinions accurately and in your own words.
Common Mistakes to Avoid. These are the most common mistakes made in reviewing social science research literature. Cook, Kathleen E. Online Writing Center.
Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper: 5. The Literature Review
Liberty University; Literature Reviews. The Writing Center. University College Writing Centre. University of Toronto; Writing a Literature Review. Academic Skills Centre.
University of Canberra. Break Out of Your Disciplinary Box! Thinking interdisciplinarily about a research problem can be a rewarding exercise in applying new ideas, theories, or concepts to an old problem. For example, what might cultural anthropologists say about the continuing conflict in the Middle East? In what ways might geographers view the need for better distribution of social service agencies in large cities than how social workers might study the issue?
However, particularly in the social sciences, thinking about research problems from multiple vectors is a key strategy for finding new solutions to a problem or gaining a new perspective. Consult with a librarian about identifying research databases in other disciplines; almost every field of study has at least one comprehensive database devoted to indexing its research literature.
Frodeman, Robert. The Oxford Handbook of Interdisciplinarity. New York: Oxford University Press, Don't Just Review for Content! While conducting a review of the literature, maximize the time you devote to writing this part of your paper by thinking broadly about what you should be looking for and evaluating. Review not just what scholars are saying, but how are they saying it. Some questions to ask:. When you begin to write your literature review section, you'll be glad you dug deeper into how the research was designed and constructed because it establishes a means for developing more substantial analysis and interpretation of the research problem.
Hart, Chris. Here are several strategies you can utilize to assess whether you've thoroughly reviewed the literature:. Onwuegbuzie, Anthony J. Contact us. The Literature Review This guide provides advice on how to develop and organize a research paper in the social and behavioral sciences. The Conclusion Toggle Dropdown Appendices Definition A literature review surveys books, scholarly articles, and any other sources relevant to a particular issue, area of research, or theory, and by so doing, provides a description, summary, and critical evaluation of these works in relation to the research problem being investigated.
Importance of a Good Literature Review A literature review may consist of simply a summary of key sources, but in the social sciences, a literature review usually has an organizational pattern and combines both summary and synthesis, often within specific conceptual categories. The analytical features of a literature review might: Give a new interpretation of old material or combine new with old interpretations, Trace the intellectual progression of the field, including major debates, Depending on the situation, evaluate the sources and advise the reader on the most pertinent or relevant research, or Usually in the conclusion of a literature review, identify where gaps exist in how a problem has been researched to date.
The purpose of a literature review is to: Place each work in the context of its contribution to understanding the research problem being studied. Describe the relationship of each work to the others under consideration. Identify new ways to interpret prior research. Reveal any gaps that exist in the literature. Resolve conflicts amongst seemingly contradictory previous studies.
Identify areas of prior scholarship to prevent duplication of effort. Point the way in fulfilling a need for additional research.
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Locate your own research within the context of existing literature [very important]. Types of Literature Reviews It is important to think of knowledge in a given field as consisting of three layers. Types of Literature Reviews Argumentative Review This form examines literature selectively in order to support or refute an argument, deeply imbedded assumption, or philosophical problem already established in the literature.
Structure and Writing Style I. Thinking About Your Literature Review The structure of a literature review should include the following : An overview of the subject, issue, or theory under consideration, along with the objectives of the literature review, Division of works under review into themes or categories [e. The critical evaluation of each work should consider : Provenance -- what are the author's credentials? Are the author's arguments supported by evidence [e. Methodology -- were the techniques used to identify, gather, and analyze the data appropriate to addressing the research problem?
Was the sample size appropriate? Were the results effectively interpreted and reported? Objectivity -- is the author's perspective even-handed or prejudicial? Is contrary data considered or is certain pertinent information ignored to prove the author's point? Persuasiveness -- which of the author's theses are most convincing or least convincing? Value -- are the author's arguments and conclusions convincing?
Does the work ultimately contribute in any significant way to an understanding of the subject? Development of the Literature Review Four Stages 1. Ways to Organize Your Literature Review Chronology of Events If your review follows the chronological method, you could write about the materials according to when they were published.
Here are examples of other sections you may need to include depending on the type of review you write: Current Situation : information necessary to understand the topic or focus of the literature review. 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. You can use our free citation software to quickly create correct and consistent APA citations or MLA format citations. Scribbr Plagiarism Checker.
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. You should have a rough idea of your strategy before you start writing.
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. If you are writing the literature review as part of your dissertation or thesis, reiterate your central problem or research question and give a brief summary of the scholarly context. If you are writing a stand-alone paper, give some background on the topic and its importance, discuss the scope of the literature you will review for example, the time period of your sources , and state your objective.
What new insight will you draw from the literature? Depending on the length of your literature review, you might want to divide the body into subsections.
Write a Literature Review: for Undergraduates - The Library: University of Waikato
You can use a subheading for each theme, time period, or methodological approach. The example below is taken from the body of a literature review on the relationship between national identity and nature conservation. This paragraph discusses how humanities scholars have approached the concept of wilderness.
Following Cronon, the racial and class politics of wilderness preservation was a theme taken up by several scholars in the late s and early s, who researched the material effects of conservation politics on indigenous and rural Americans Catton ; Spence ; Jacoby The US National Park system became the dominant paradigm for analyzing relations between conservation, nationhood and nationalism.
Recent work has begun to challenge this paradigm and argue for more varied approaches to understanding the socio-political relations between nation and nature. The example combines the thematic and chronological approaches. This section of the literature review focuses on the theme of wilderness, while the paragraph itself is organized chronologically. In the conclusion, you should summarize the key findings you have taken from the literature and emphasize their significance.
If the literature review is part of your thesis or dissertation, show how your research addresses gaps and contributes new knowledge, or discuss how you have drawn on existing theories and methods to build a framework for your research. If you are writing a stand-alone paper, you can discuss the overall implications of the literature or make suggestions for future research based on the gaps you have identified. Our quick guide to proofreading offers some useful tips and tricks! It's clear, to the point and beautiful source of knowledge. But i want to further more about the thematic review - its meaning and the process of way of dong it.
Wonderful indeed! Time saving and to the point. No complexity but simplicity. Highly thankful! Thanks, I find this information very helpful to to my academic works in research and writing as whole. It is my hope that you give a clear sample formats so as understand the step by step concept. Once more thanks. Hi Lucy, Somebody ask me "what shaped or guided your literature review LR? Is my answer sufficient? Can you kindly give your comment please. Thank you.
I've read nearly your whole website, it's brilliant! Regarding LR, I would like to suggest one thing I have myself been advised to use by a friend: mindmaps. There are a couple of free apps such as XMind which I loooove that saved my life and eased my work so much while typing my LR. It helps you structure your articles by topic for example, I put my references and summed up each relevant article in a topic.
This made it sooo much easier to organise my work, my ideas, my structure and my writing because all I had to do was to go back on my map instead of going back to the articles. Hi Mohamed, Thank you for your question.