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. 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. The Literature Review. Search this Guide Search.
Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper Offers detailed guidance on how to develop, organize, and write a college-level research paper in the social and behavioral sciences. The Abstract Executive Summary 4. The Introduction The C. The Discussion Limitations of the Study 9. The Conclusion 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. 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.
History : the chronological progression of the field, the literature, or an idea that is necessary to understand the literature review, if the body of the literature review is not already a chronology. Selection Methods : the criteria you used to select and perhaps exclude sources in your literature review. For instance, you might explain that your review includes only peer-reviewed articles and journals.
Standards : the way in which you present your information. Questions for Further Research : What questions about the field has the review sparked? How will you further your research as a result of the review? Writing Your Literature Review Once you've settled on how to organize your literature review, you're ready to write each section.
Common Mistakes to Avoid These are the most common mistakes made in reviewing social science research literature. Sources in your literature review do not clearly relate to the research problem; You do not take sufficient time to define and identify the most relevent sources to use in the literature review related to the research problem; Relies exclusively on secondary analytical sources rather than including relevant primary research studies or data; Uncritically accepts another researcher's findings and interpretations as valid, rather than examining critically all aspects of the research design and analysis; Does not describe the search procedures that were used in identifying the literature to review; Reports isolated statistical results rather than synthesizing them in chi-squared or meta-analytic methods; and, Only includes research that validates assumptions and does not consider contrary findings and alternative interpretations found in the literature.
Some questions to ask: How are they organizing their ideas? What methods have they used to study the problem? What theories have been used to explain, predict, or understand their research problem? What sources have they cited to support their conclusions? How have they used non-textual elements [e. Here are several strategies you can utilize to assess whether you've thoroughly reviewed the literature: Look for repeating patterns in the research findings. If the same thing is being said, just by different people, then this likely demonstrates that the research problem has hit a conceptual dead end.
At this point consider: Does your study extend current research? Does it forge a new path? Or, does is merely add more of the same thing being said? Look at sources the authors cite to in their work. If you begin to see the same researchers cited again and again, then this is often an indication that no new ideas have been generated to address the research problem.
You may be engaged in more empirical research, focusing on data collection and discovering new information, or more theoretical research, attempting to develop a new conceptual model or add nuance to an existing one. Dissertation research often involves both, but the content of your methodology section will vary according to how important each approach is to your dissertation. Empirical research involves collecting new data and analysing it in order to answer your research questions.
It can be quantitative focused on numbers , qualitative focused on words and meanings , or a combination of both. When you need to justify your choice of a particular research method or tool, for example, you can cite a text describing the advantages and appropriate usage of that method. Moreover, your research will necessarily involve analysing the data after you have collected it. In this case, your methodology section will focus more on the theory you plan to work with in your dissertation: relevant conceptual models and the approach you intend to take.
Here, you may refer to the same theorists you have already discussed in the literature review. In this case, the emphasis is placed on how you plan to use their contributions in your own research. Instead, you should describe the projected implications and contribution to knowledge of your dissertation.
Describe the intended result of your research and the theoretical or practical impact it will have:. You need to include a properly formatted reference list or bibliography at the end of your proposal. If your department does not have specific requirements, choose a style and apply it consistently. A reference list includes only the sources that you cited in your proposal. Say goodbye to inaccurate citations! Have a thesis expert improve your writing. Check your thesis for plagiarism in 10 minutes.
Do the check. Generate your APA citations for free! APA Citation Generator. Home Knowledge Base Dissertation How to write a dissertation proposal. How to write a dissertation proposal Published on 14 February by Jack Caulfield. What is your plagiarism score? Compare your paper with over 60 billion web pages and 30 million publications.
It is hoped that this research will contribute to the growing body of knowledge concerning the link between general anxiety disorder and social media usage. Its conclusions will have to potential to inform not only future research but also clinical practice and outreach. The purpose of this dissertation is to reliably quantify the impact of daily social media use on the mental wellbeing of young adults with general anxiety disorder.
The effects of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram will be measured separately, something which has not been accomplished in the existing research. Is this article helpful? He writes and edits for Scribbr, and reads a lot of books in his spare time.
Other students also liked. The dissertation: What, why, and how?
In this case, the purpose is to evaluate the current state of research and demonstrate your knowledge of scholarly debates around a topic. The content will look slightly different in each case, but the process of conducting a literature review follows the same steps. Before you begin searching for literature, you need a clearly defined topic.
If you are writing the literature review section of a dissertation or research paper, you will search for literature related to your research problem and questions. If you are writing a literature review as a stand-alone assignment, you will have to choose a focus and develop a central question to direct your search. Unlike a dissertation research question, this question has to be answerable without collecting original data. You should be able to answer it based only on a review of existing publications.
Start by creating a list of keywords related to your research question. You can add to this list if you discover new keywords in the process of your literature search. Use your keywords to begin searching for sources. Some useful databases to search for journals and articles include:.
Read the abstract to find out whether an article is relevant to your question. When you find a useful book or article, you can check the bibliography to find other relevant sources. To identify the most important publications on your topic, take note of recurring citations. If the same authors, books or articles keep appearing in your reading, make sure to seek them out. Scribbr editors not only correct grammar and spelling mistakes, but also strengthen your writing by making sure your paper is free of vague language, redundant words and awkward phrasing.
See editing example. Make sure the sources you use are credible , and make sure you read any landmark studies and major theories in your field of research. You can find out how many times an article has been cited on Google Scholar — a high citation count means the article has been influential in the field, and should certainly be included in your literature review. The scope of your review will depend on your topic and discipline: in the sciences you usually only review recent literature, but in the humanities you might take a long historical perspective for example, to trace how a concept has changed in meaning over time.
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. Want to check your literature review for plagiarism? 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. Depending on the length of your literature review, you might want to divide the body into subsections. You can use a subheading for each theme, time period, or methodological approach. Example of a paragraph in a literature review Body image issues have been widely associated with social media usage, particularly in young women.
It is not an annotated bibliography, because it groups related works together and discusses trends and developments rather than focusing on one item at a time. A Literature Review is more than an Annotated Bibliography or a summary, because you are organizing and presenting your sources in terms of their overall relationship to your own project.
A literature review is written to highlight specific arguments and ideas in a field of study. By highlighting these arguments, the writer attempts to show what has been studied in the field, and also where the weaknesses, gaps, or areas needing further study are.
Literature reviews can have different types of audiences, so consider why and for whom you are writing your review. For example, a lot of literature reviews are written as a chapter for a thesis or dissertation, so the audience will want to know in what way your research is important and original. Highlighting the gap in knowledge which your research aims to fill is particularly important in this instance because you need to convince the reader that there is an opening in the area of study.
A literature review in a proposal will similarly try to convince the audience of the significance and worthiness of the proposed project. In contrast, when you are writing a literature review for a course, your professor may want you to show that you understand what research has been done, giving you a base of knowledge. In this case, you may not need to focus as much on proving where the gaps in knowledge lie, but rather, that you know what the major areas of study and key ideas are. Asking questions such as the following will help you sift through your sources and organize your literature review.
Remember, the literature review organizes the previous research in the light of what you are planning to do in your own project. The length of a literature review varies depending on its purpose and audience. In a thesis or dissertation, the review is usually a full chapter at least 20 pages , but for an assignment it may only be a few pages.
There are several ways to organize and structure a literature review. Two common ways are chronologically and thematically. Chronological: In a chronological review, you will group and discuss your sources in order of their appearance usually publication , highlighting the changes in research in the field and your specific topic over time.
This method is useful for papers focusing on research methodology, historiographical papers, and other writing where time becomes an important element. For example, a literature review on theories of mental illness might present how the understanding of mental illness has changed through the centuries, by giving a series of examples of key developments and ending with current theories and the direction your research will take.
Thematic: In a thematic review, you will group and discuss your sources in terms of the themes or topics they cover. This method is often a stronger one organizationally, and it can help you resist the urge to summarize your sources. By grouping themes or topics of research together, you will be able to demonstrate the types of topics that are important to your research.
For example, if the topic of the literature review is changes in popular music, then there might be separate sections on research involving the production of music, research on the dissemination of music, research on the interpretation of music, and historical studies of popular music.
No matter which method you choose, remember: Within each section of a literature review, it is important to discuss how the research relates to other studies how is it similar or different, what other studies have been done, etc.