Before we go too far, keep in mind that we are only developing adraft here. You and your Facilitator will be reviewing and developingthis Literature Review over and over again – adding more and moreelements until you are ready to turn in your final draft. According tomy calculations, that means you have eight more weeks to develop this,since your final draft is not due until the end of your next course. So,do not get too stressed out. Yes, we have a lot of work to do, but youwill have time to develop your skills.
Keep in mind that the purpose of your Literature Review is to mergethe research you are doing and illustrate it in a unique way. This meansit is more than just summarizing what you are reading, but helping yourreader understand what is out there about the subject and help theminterpret all that information.
To do that, you will need to choose a way to present yourdiscoveries. While there is no specific requirement about how yourinformation should be organized or structured, students commonly chooseone of two ways: Chronological or Thematic. We have provided a briefdescription and example below to help you decide which approach might bebest for you.
This approach allows youto develop your literature review in the same way the topic has beendeveloped through the literature. By choosing this layout you are simplyillustrating how the topic has developed over time, presentingdifferent research and describing how the topic has evolved. While someview this as an easier approach, it does make it more difficult tosynthesize information or address a specific approach, since you areobligated to follow the progression of the topic.
This approach allows the writer to synthesizeinformation into discrete (distinct) concepts, perspectives, orstructures. By choosing this layout you have the opportunity to developspecific topics and illustrate how information on your topic can betreated together. This approach has many advantages, however it doesrequire the writer to integrate research and make assertions byintegrating research.
Example Chronological Outline
- 1. Corporal Punishment Historical References and Perspectives
- 2. Corporal Punishment: Founding of the American Colonies – 1900
- 3. Corporal Punishment: The Emergence of an American Perspective (1900-1960’s)
- 4. Corporal Punishment: The Modern Debate
Example Thematic Outline
- 1. Definitions of Corporal Punishment
- 2. The Arguments for Corporal Punishment
- 3. The Arguments Against Corporal Punishment
- 4. What the Research Says: Benefits of Corporal Punishment
- 5. What the Research Says: Harms of Corporal Punishment
- 6. What the Research Does Not Say
Okay – Did you chose an approach? Don’t worry, you can always switch,but time is an issue for us. So, the best advice we can give is justchoose and approach and go with it. We can deal with revisions later,but we need to get started.
Okay – Ready? – Here we go!
While a graduate or professional literature review may cite more than100 sources, let’s not get too crazy! While this is not a specificrequirement, a good undergraduate literature review will referenceapproximately 20 sources. This is enough to provide a basic foundationthrough which to show your expertise. However, as you become morefamiliar with your topic and begin to see the sources others have cited,you may want to expand your review of the literature.
On the other hand, using limited sources means that you will need tobe very picky about what sources you choose to include. You will want tobe sure that the studies you are referencing clearly speak to yourtopic and provide good evidence to support your conclusions.
Using your approach (Chronological or Thematic) begin your review. Itmight help to use the following outline to help guide your review:
- – Describe the study or source
- – Compare studies, highlighting how they agree or disagree
- – Evaluate thestudies. Who was included? What was the size of the sample? Were theirethical issues? Does the study address your research question?
- – What are the implications of this study?
In the Resource Section there are some example papers you canreference. The Literature Reviews typically begin a few pages in. Yourfacilitator might also be able to provide further explanation or providefurther resources.
By the end of this week, you will need to submit a draft of yourLiterature Review. At minimum, you should submit a working outline thatclearly indicates the sections of the literature review, even if thewriting related to some of these sections is undeveloped (meaning someof it should be developed). Your Facilitator should be able to determinethat you have a firm grasp on the subject at large.