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Literature Review 101: So, you’ve read several articles in response to a pressing question. Now what? Sherry Wynn Perdue, Director Oakland University Writing.

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Presentation on theme: "Literature Review 101: So, you’ve read several articles in response to a pressing question. Now what? Sherry Wynn Perdue, Director Oakland University Writing."— Presentation transcript:

1 Literature Review 101: So, you’ve read several articles in response to a pressing question. Now what? Sherry Wynn Perdue, Director Oakland University Writing Center Genevieve Taylor, Graduate Consultant Oakland University Writing Center

2 Composing the Literature Review What is (and is not) a literature review? How should you frame the literature you locate? How should you draft the literature review? What institutional support is available to you?institutional support

3 The Literature Review Do you understand the purpose and scope of a literature review? And, do you comprehend the difference between an abstract or an annotation and a literature review? Have you examined and annotated models from academic articles on the topic and within the discipline?

4 What is a Literature Review? A professional conversation framed by a guiding concept A comprehensive exploration of existing scholarship on a specific topic “An account of what has been published on a topic by accredited scholars...” (Taylor & Procter, 2001) An answer to a persistent question (R. Elmore, Harvard Graduate School of Education) A presentation of the current state of knowledge on a topic, which is designed to highlight past research findings and to pave the way for your study/discussion.

5 Characteristics of a Literature Review An introduction that shares the persistent question(s) the reviewed literature will address and indicates how the reviewed scholarship will be framed An organizational frame, which groups relevant scholarship by topic, chronology, theoretical approach, methodology, etc. and/or a combination of approaches Transitions organic to the discussion that indicate how different studies approach the same issues both within individual paragraphs and between paragraphs Evidence of how conflicting findings within the literature might be resolved by looking at the methodology, sample size, questions asked (and not asked), etc. A conclusion that clarifies how the literature demonstrates the efficacy of your paper/position. Does the literature review demonstrate a gap in the literature? Does it identify a conflict that needs resolution? In many cases the specific research questions for the student author’s proposed study will be shared here too.

6 Literature Review Pitfalls: Forgetting to Frame Failing to synthesize ideas and information from your sources into a narrative account of what the professionals currently know with the purpose of credentialing your study This synthesis could be framed by date, theoretical orientation, method, issue, etc. The literature review, however, is not an annotated bibliography. In other words, you organize the literature review by issues and ideas rather than by individual sources. Your goal is to create a conversation between and among the scholars on each important issue reviewed.

7 Literature Review Pitfalls: Overreliance on Quotations You gain your reader’s trust by sparingly and strategically using other people’s words. In most cases, you should paraphrase the material, selecting only the portions of the original quote that you need. Generally when you use three or more consecutive words from the original, you must place quotation marks around all directly quoted material and use a parenthetical citation that includes the page number. This advice does not include the names of theories or tests, which are often quite long and should be included as used in the literature.

8 Literature Review Pitfalls: Patching not Paraphrasing “Patching” occurs when you insert a series of borrowed ideas and phrases; these strings often differ only slightly from the original wording. This is a form of plagiarism, even if the writer provides a parenthetical citation. Paraphrase involves both a rewording and reorganizing the original material; “synonym swapping” is not a paraphrase. You can mediate the potential for plagiarism by taking accurate notes in your own words, carefully noting the source and page number. To avoid patching, practice making this material your own. You will need to read a great deal more material than you cite.

9 Literature Review Pitfalls: Failing to Connect Foundational Studies to Your Project Citing “seminal” works, those studies that are most cited by others, without understanding how those significant, early studies complement, qualify, or contrast with the approach taken in your paper. While it is helpful to consult reviews of the literature most crucial to your subject (because they can guide your understanding of your own source base), it is essential to gain a firm understanding of the foundational studies that will contribute to the argument you make. Everything you discuss in your literature review needs to pave the way for your project.

10 Literature Review Pitfalls: Cursory Overview or Biased Sample Failing to ensure that your literature review is comprehensive because you were unaware of the seminal studies on the topic Consciously choosing to omit scholarship that challenges your initial hypothesis, methodology, etc. While you can choose to narrow your review to two of three pedagogical approaches or to three potential antagonists among many, you must indicate the rationale for this decision. Whether intentional or not, these omissions will invalidate your claims. Further, you may find it necessary to consider this pitfall as you evaluate other scholars’ research.

11 Getting Started: The Source Grid A graphic organizer that helps you document your “talking points,” the level one headers of your literature reviewtalking points A non-linear outline of the major topics that your literature review will synthesize

12 Drafting from the Source GridSource Grid Envision the composing process as a piecemeal one. To compile the grid, for example, you need to read, evaluate, and group the literature by major topics or talking points. To compose the text, you need to draft from one column at a time. Caution: Never compose a draft without including an APA citation for each source as you go. For APA assistance, see the APA Tutorial on the Oakland University Writing Center homepage. Remember that each paragraph develops an idea rather than simply summarizes the results of one article. While there are times that an individual study might occupy a whole paragraph (it could be the only study on an important issue), the paragraphs that follow it should situate other literature in connection to that study or examine another issue that is addressed by a different study.

13 Drafting and Integrating the Parts To mediate distractions, I have found it helpful to open a separate document for each talking point into which I paste its grid material. If a good idea for a different part of the paper intrudes on my process, I quickly click on that document and record the idea before returning to the issue on which I am currently writing. Continue to draft new talking points and redraft previously composed talking points until you have good fragments (quilting squares) of the paper’s body. Once you have the parts, you need to examine them in relationship to one another to determine which talking points must come first. After you determine the order of information within the body of the review, it is time to insert and refine your transitions. After composing the body, draft the introduction and the conclusion. Caution: It is never a good idea to draft these before you know how the literature will come together.

14 When Should You Schedule a Writing Consultation? After the research consultation (but before you start writing) to make a plan and review the project specifications After you have located and started reading your sources to discuss potential talking points/headers for a source grid After you have created a source grid to explore potential ways to situate the issues within each major topic Once you have drafted a section of the paper Whenever you need help with APA style issues Once you have a solid working draft, etc. Anytime you get stuck or need a second set of eyes

15 Selected References: Elmore, R. Some guidance on doing a literature review. Retrieved on January 15, 2010 from n/elmore_lit_review.pdf n/elmore_lit_review.pdf Graff, G. & Birkenstein, C. (2006).They say/I say: The moves that matter in academic writing. New York: W.W. Norton. Taylor, D. & Procter, M. (2001). The literature review: A few tips on conducting it. Retrieved January 4, 2010 from: University of Washington Psychology Writing Center. (2004). Writing a psychology literature review. Retrieved January 15, 2010 from

16 Thank You!! We appreciate the opportunity to speak with you about this high stakes manuscript. Please feel free to schedule a Research Consultation or a Writing Consultation for assistance at any stage of the research and writing process as you move forward.Research Consultation Writing Consultation


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