While the study focuses on one topic, harpoon technology, it will still be organized chronologically. But more authentic thematic reviews tend to break away from chronological order. The subsections might include how they are personified, how their proportions are exaggerated, and their behaviors misunderstood. A review organized in this manner would shift between time periods within each section according to the point made.
Methodological: A methodological approach differs from the two above in that the focusing factor usually does not have to do with the content of the material. For the sperm whale project, one methodological approach would be to look at cultural differences between the portrayal of whales in American, British, and French art work.
Or the review might focus on the economic impact of whaling on a community. A methodological scope will influence either the types of documents in the review or the way in which these documents are discussed. They should arise out of your organizational strategy.
In other words, a chronological review would have subsections for each vital time period. A thematic review would have subtopics based upon factors that relate to the theme or issue. Sometimes, though, you might need to add additional sections that are necessary for your study, but do not fit in the organizational strategy of the body. What other sections you include in the body is up to you. Put in only what is necessary. Here are a few other sections you might want to consider: 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. For instance, you might explain that your review includes only peer-reviewed articles and journals. 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?
There are a few guidelines you should follow during the writing stage as well. Here is a sample paragraph from a literature review about sexism and language to illuminate the following discussion: However, other studies have shown that even gender-neutral antecedents are more likely to produce masculine images than feminine ones Gastil, Hamilton found that people imagined 3. Thus, while ambient sexism accounted for some of the masculine bias, sexist language amplified the effect.
Use evidence In the example above, the writers refer to several other sources when making their point. A literature review in this sense is just like any other academic research paper. Your interpretation of the available sources must be backed up with evidence to show that what you are saying is valid. Be selective Select only the most important points in each source to highlight in the review. Use quotes sparingly Falk and Mills do not use any direct quotes. That is because the survey nature of the literature review does not allow for in-depth discussion or detailed quotes from the text.
Some short quotes here and there are okay, though, if you want to emphasize a point, or if what the author said just cannot be rewritten in your own words. Notice that Falk and Mills do quote certain terms that were coined by the author, not common knowledge, or taken directly from the study.
But if you find yourself wanting to put in more quotes, check with your instructor. Summarize and synthesize Remember to summarize and synthesize your sources within each paragraph as well as throughout the review. Notice that Falk and Mills weave references to other sources into their own text, but they still maintain their own voice by starting and ending the paragraph with their own ideas and their own words.
The sources support what Falk and Mills are saying. For more information, please see our handout on plagiarism. Revise, revise, revise Draft in hand? Spending a lot of time revising is a wise idea, because your main objective is to present the material, not the argument. Be sure to use terminology familiar to your audience; get rid of unnecessary jargon or slang. Works consulted We consulted these works while writing this handout.
Please do not use this list as a model for the format of your own reference list, as it may not match the citation style you are using. For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial. Historical Review Few things rest in isolation from historical precedent.
Historical literature reviews focus on examining research throughout a period of time, often starting with the first time an issue, concept, theory, phenomena emerged in the literature, then tracing its evolution within the scholarship of a discipline. The purpose is to place research in a historical context to show familiarity with state-of-the-art developments and to identify the likely directions for future research.
Methodological Review A review does not always focus on what someone said [findings], but how they came about saying what they say [method of analysis].
Reviewing methods of analysis provides a framework of understanding at different levels [i. This approach helps highlight ethical issues which you should be aware of and consider as you go through your own study. Systematic Review This form consists of an overview of existing evidence pertinent to a clearly formulated research question, which uses pre-specified and standardized methods to identify and critically appraise relevant research, and to collect, report, and analyze data from the studies that are included in the review.
The goal is to deliberately document, critically evaluate, and summarize scientifically all of the research about a clearly defined research problem. Typically it focuses on a very specific empirical question, often posed in a cause-and-effect form, such as "To what extent does A contribute to B? Theoretical Review The purpose of this form is to examine the corpus of theory that has accumulated in regard to an issue, concept, theory, phenomena.
The theoretical literature review helps to establish what theories already exist, the relationships between them, to what degree the existing theories have been investigated, and to develop new hypotheses to be tested. Often this form is used to help establish a lack of appropriate theories or reveal that current theories are inadequate for explaining new or emerging research problems. The unit of analysis can focus on a theoretical concept or a whole theory or framework.
Baumeister, Roy F. Systematic Approaches to a Successful Literature Review. 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. Problem formulation -- which topic or field is being examined and what are its component issues? Literature search -- finding materials relevant to the subject being explored. Data evaluation -- determining which literature makes a significant contribution to the understanding of the topic. Analysis and interpretation -- discussing the findings and conclusions of pertinent literature. Consider the following issues before writing the literature review: Clarify If your assignment is not very specific about what form your literature review should take, seek clarification from your professor by asking these questions: 1.
Roughly how many sources should I include? What types of sources should I review books, journal articles, websites; scholarly versus popular sources? Should I summarize, synthesize, or critique sources by discussing a common theme or issue? Should I evaluate the sources? Find Models Use the exercise of reviewing the literature to examine how authors in your discipline or area of interest have composed their literature review sections. Read them to get a sense of the types of themes you might want to look for in your own research or to identify ways to organize your final review.
The bibliography or reference section of sources you've already read are also excellent entry points into your own research. Narrow the Topic The narrower your topic, the easier it will be to limit the number of sources you need to read in order to obtain a good survey of relevant resources. Your professor will probably not expect you to read everything that's available about the topic, but you'll make your job easier if you first limit scope of the research problem.
A good strategy is to begin by searching the HOMER catalog for books about the topic and review the table of contents for chapters that focuses on specific issues. You can also review the indexes of books to find references to specific issues that can serve as the focus of your research. For example, a book surveying the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict may include a chapter on the role Egypt has played in mediating the conflict, or look in the index for the pages where Egypt is mentioned in the text.
Consider Whether Your Sources are Current Some disciplines require that you use information that is as current as possible. This is particularly true in disciplines in medicine and the sciences where research conducted becomes obsolete very quickly as new discoveries are made.
However, when writing a review in the social sciences, a survey of the history of the literature may be required. In other words, a complete understanding the research problem requires you to deliberately examine how knowledge and perspectives have changed over time. Sort through other current bibliographies or literature reviews in the field to get a sense of what your discipline expects.
You can also use this method to explore what is considered by scholars to be a "hot topic" and what is not. 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.
Introduction The introduction should clearly establish the focus and purpose of the literature review. Dissertation literature review If you are writing the literature review as part of your dissertation or thesis, reiterate your central problem or research question and give a brief summary of the scholarly context.
Stand-alone literature review If you are writing a stand-alone paper, give some background on the topic and its importance, discuss the scope of the literature you will review for example, the time period of your sources , and state your objective. What new insight will you draw from the literature?
Body 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. This paragraph discusses how humanities scholars have approached the concept of wilderness. Following Cronon, the racial and class politics of wilderness preservation was a theme taken up by several scholars in the late s and early s, who researched the material effects of conservation politics on indigenous and rural Americans Catton ; Spence ; Jacoby The US National Park system became the dominant paradigm for analyzing relations between conservation, nationhood and nationalism.
Recent work has begun to challenge this paradigm and argue for more varied approaches to understanding the socio-political relations between nation and nature. The example combines the thematic and chronological approaches. This section of the literature review focuses on the theme of wilderness, while the paragraph itself is organized chronologically.
Recent work has begun to challenge this paradigm and argue for more varied approaches to understanding the socio-political relations between nation and nature. Should you summarize, synthesize, or critique your sources by discussing a common theme or issue? Here are several strategies you can utilize to assess whether you've thoroughly reviewed the literature: Look for repeating patterns in the research findings.
Troyka, Lynn Quitman. Problem formulation -- which topic or field is being examined and what are its component issues? This is particularly true in disciplines in medicine and the sciences where research conducted becomes obsolete very quickly as new discoveries are made. Why do we write literature reviews? Describe the relationship of each work to the others under consideration.
Then you look up a book written in with information on how sperm whales have been portrayed in other forms of art, such as in Alaskan poetry, in French painting, or on whale bone, as the whale hunters in the late 19th century used to do. Give your interpretation of how and why certain developments occurred. However, note that they can also introduce problems of bias when they are used to make summary claims of the sort found in systematic reviews [see below]. Summarize and synthesize Remember to summarize and synthesize your sources within each paragraph as well as throughout the review. 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. Here again, if the same authors are being cited again and again, this may indicate no new literature has been written on the topic.
The unit of analysis can focus on a theoretical concept or a whole theory or framework. Should I evaluate the sources? In other words, a complete understanding the research problem requires you to deliberately examine how knowledge and perspectives have changed over time. Create an organizational method to focus this section even further.
Try to analyze patterns, turning points and key debates that have shaped the direction of the field. Information even two years old could be obsolete. In the sciences, for instance, treatments for medical problems are constantly changing according to the latest studies. The goal is to deliberately document, critically evaluate, and summarize scientifically all of the research about a clearly defined research problem. Literature reviews are designed to provide an overview of sources you have explored while researching a particular topic and to demonstrate to your readers how your research fits within a larger field of study.
If you do include tables as part of your review each must be accompanied by an analysis that summarizes, interprets and synthesizes the literature that you have charted in the table.
For guidance on formatting citations, please see the UNC Libraries citation tutorial. Is this article helpful? Sometimes you may need to quote certain terminology that was coined by the author, not common knowledge, or taken directly from the study. Is there an aspect of the field that is missing?
First, there are the primary studies that researchers conduct and publish. Fink, Arlene.