Literature Review Instructions
Prompt: In 1,000-1,500 words and using at least seven scholarly sources, create a literature review of the scholarship and research gap around the topic of your research proposal.
1. A literature review accomplishes two main things: it summarizes the context of other scholar’s work related to your topic, and it identifies the research gap that you propose to fill.
2. You must include an introduction paragraph with a literature review purpose statement, body paragraphs that each center around a sub-topic related to your research proposal, and a conclusion paragraph that summarizes your literature review and emphasizes the presence of the research gap you have identified.
3. You must use third person
4. Your grammar, spelling, and punctuation should be flawless. Visit the Liberty University writing centers if you want extra help: https://www.liberty.edu/academics/casas/academicsuccess/index.cfm?PID=38382
5. APA formatting is required, but do not include a title page or abstract.
1. The research gap is the lack of knowledge surrounding the research question you have chosen. You should definitely mention this in the conclusion but can also mention it in your purpose statement and in your body paragraphs.
2. A literature review purpose statement is just like a thesis statement in some ways. It belongs at the end of your introduction paragraph, and it gives the focus of the lit review, but in a lit review, you are not arguing to make a point. You are summarizing relevant research and identifying your research gap, so your purpose statement should reflect that. Here is an example of what one may sound like: While much research has been done on (broader topic), a research gap remains surrounding (your specific question).
3. If you cannot find a source that is a perfect fit for your topic, that is actually a good thing! It means your research question is original and has not already been studied. Find sources that are mostly or at least partially related, but if you find a source that is a perfect fit, that is a red flag.
4. To choose topics for your lit review body paragraphs, break your research question down into key sub-topics. For example: if you are studying whether listening to classical music makes kindergarteners run faster, you might pick the following sub-topics: influence of music on exercise intensity, studies on running training for young children, classical music effects on kindergarteners, etc. In each case, you can look up relevant studies, report those results and why they are relevant, and then identify where the research gap still remains.
5. A key aspect of a literature review is synthesis! There may be times where it makes sense to discuss just one source in a paragraph, but generally your paragraphs should be focused on a sub-topic and pull from multiple sources to illustrate where the scholarly literature is in studying that sub-topic.
6. When you summarize sources, use lots of citations! Citation density is a powerful way to show that you are not just giving a shallow or basic overview of a topic.
7. Remember that your hypothetical readers are scholars who already know the basics. Get detailed with your sources and avoid explaining basic things that scholars in the field would already know.
8. Do not argue for a point or show bias! It will be VERY tempting to argue for your point, but you should not argue in your literature review, only observe. Remember that the whole point of a research proposal (which your literature review is part of) is just to propose that a question be asked, not to argue that you know the answer. If you already know the answer, why even bother proposing asking it?
9. Identify the most up-to-date research on your topic. Find the newest sources you can!
10. Do not use your introduction to introduce your topic; instead, introduce the idea of the research on it. When you finish your Research Proposal in Week 7, you will have to write an overall introduction paragraph, and that one will introduce the topic itself. So, for now, introduce the literature review specifically. Introduce the idea of reviewing scholarship and the sub-topics you will be studying, include your statement of purpose, and keep it short!
11. Refer to the textbook and journal articles for information on and examples of literature reviews. Reading other, professional lit reviews is the best way to get better at writing yours.
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