Strategies for Writing Literature Reviews

Strategies for Writing Literature Reviews

Purpose of a Literature Review The literature review is a critical look at the existing research that is significant to the work that you are carrying out. To provide background information To establish importance To demonstrate familiarity To carve out a space for further research Characteristics of Effective Literature Reviews

Outlining important research trends Assessing the strengths and weaknesses of existing research Identifying potential gaps in knowledge Establishing a need for current and/or future research projects Steps for Writing a Lit Review Planning Reading and Research

Analyzing Drafting Revising Planning What Type of Literature Review Am I Writing? Planning Focus What is the specific thesis, problem, or research

question that my literature review helps to define? Identifying a focus that allows you to: Sort and categorize information Eliminate irrelevant information Type What type of literature review am I conducting? Theory; Methodology; Policy; Quantitative;

Qualitative Planning Scope What is the scope of my literature review? What types of sources am I using? Academic Discipline What

field(s) am I working in? Reading and Researching What Materials Am I Going to Use? Reading and Researching Collect and read material. Summarize sources. Who is the author?

What is the author's main purpose? What is the authors theoretical perspective? Research methodology? Who is the intended audience? What is the principal point, conclusion, thesis, contention, or question? How is the authors position supported? How does this study relate to other studies of the problem or topic? What does this study add to your project? Select only relevant books and articles.

Analyzing How Do I Assess Existing Research? Analyzing Sources A literature review is never just a list of studies it always offers an argument about a body of research Analysis occurs on two levels:

Individual sources Body of research Four Analysis Tasks of the Literature Review Summary and Synthesis In your own words, summarize and/or synthesize the key findings relevant to your

study. What do we know about the immediate area? What are the key arguments, key characteristics, key concepts or key figures? What are the existing debates/theories? What common methodologies are used? Sample Language for Summary and Synthesis Normadin has demonstrated

Early work by Hausman, Schwarz, and Graves was concerned with Elsayed and Stern compared algorithms for handling Additional work by Karasawa et. al, Azadivar, and Parry et. al deals with Example: Summary and Synthesis Under the restriction of small populations, four possible ways [to avoid premature convergence]

were presented. The first one is to revise the gene operators. . . .Griffiths and Miles applied advanced two-dimensional gene operators to search the optimal cross-section of a beam and significantly improve results. The second way is to adjust gene probability. Leite and Topping adopted a variable mutation probability and obtained an outperformed result. Example: Summary and Synthesis Piagets theory of stages of cognitive development

and Eriksons stages of psychosocial development are commonly used for educational psychology courses (Borich & Tombari, 1997; LeFrancois, 1997; Slavin, 1997). Piaget described characteristic behaviors, including artistic ones such as drawing, as evidence of how children think and what children do as they progress beyond developmental milestones into and through stages of development. Comparison and Critique Evaluates the strength and weaknesses of the

work: How do the different studies relate? What is new, different, or controversial? What views need further testing? What evidence is lacking, inconclusive, contradicting, or too limited? What research designs or methods seem unsatisfactory?

Sample Language for Comparison and Critique In this ambitious but flawed study, Jones and Wang These general results, reflecting the stochastic nature of the flow of goods, are similar to those reported by Rosenblatt and Roll Example: Comparison and Critique

The critical response to the poetry of Phillis Wheatley often registers disappointment or surprise. Some critics have complained that the verse of this African American slave is insecure (Collins 1975, 78), imitative (Richmond 1974, 5466), and incapacitated (Burke 1991, 33, 38)at worst, the product of a White mind (Jameson 1974, 414-15). Others, in contrast, have applauded Wheatleys critique of AngloAmerican discourse(Kendrick 1993,222-23), her revision of literary models Example: Comparison and Critique The situationist model has also received its share

of criticism. One of the most frequently cited shortcomings of this approach centers around the assumption that individuals enter into the work context tabula rasa. Evaluative Adjectives Unusual Small Complex

Competent Simple Exploratory Important Innovative Limited Restricted

Impressive Useful Flawed Careful Analyzing: Putting It All Together Once you have summarized, synthesized, compared, and critiqued your chosen material, you may consider whether these studies

Demonstrate the topics chronological development. Show different approaches to the problem. Show an ongoing debate. Center on a seminal study or studies. Demonstrate a paradigm shift. Analyzing: Putting It All Together What do researchers KNOW about this field? What do researchers NOT KNOW? Why should we (further) study this topic? What will my study contribute?

Citing Sources If its not your own idea (and not common knowledge)DOCUMENT IT! Paraphrase key ideas. Use quotations sparingly. Introduce quotations effectively. Use proper in-text citation to document the source of ideas. Maintain accurate bibliographic records. Citing Sources: Things to Avoid

Plagiarism Irrelevant quotations. Un-introduced quotations. Examples: Citing Sources Quoting: Despite pleasant depictions of home life in art, the fact remains that for most Seventeenth-century Dutch women, the home represented a curtailment of some degree of independence. Art historian Laurinda Dixon writes that for the majority of women, however, home was a prison, though a prison made bearable by love

and approval (1995, p. 136 ). Paraphrasing: Despite pleasant depictions of home life in art, the fact remains that for most Seventeenth-century Dutch women, the home represented a curtailment of some degree of independence. Art historian Laurinda Dixon argues that the home actually imprisoned most women. She adds that this prison was made attractive by three things: the prescriptions of doctors of the day against idleness, the praise given diligent housewives, and the romantic ideal based on love and respect (1995, p. 136). Writing a Literature Review:

In Summary As you read, try to see the big pictureyour literature review should provide an overview of the state of research. Include only those source materials that help you shape your argument. Resist the temptation to include everything youve read! Balance summary and analysis as you write. Keep in mind your purpose for writing:

How will this review benefit readers? How does this review contribute to your study? Be meticulous about citations.

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