RESEARCH ASSIGNMENT (LITERATURE REVIEW)
Select a theory from the following categories: classical, biological, psychological, social structure, social process, social learning, and conflict theories.
Overview: A literature review is an evaluative account of what has been published on a topic by accredited scholars and researchers. The purpose of a literature review is not to create an original argument and support your position with scholarly research (this is the typical college research paper assignment), but instead to summarize and synthesize the available research in the field to assess the value of the research already done by others, identify prevalent trends and discover what research remains to be done in a particular subject area. Literature reviews direct the formation of new research questions and are routinely included in the opening sections of scholarly research reports. A successful literature review must be defined by a guiding concept such as your research objective, the problem or issue you wish to discuss. A literature review is not just a descriptive list of the material available, or a set of summaries (this is an annotated bibliography).
In addition to leaving you a better informed researcher in a particular specialized subject area, writing a literature review helps you develop and demonstrate two valuable skills:
Research: the ability to scan the literature efficiently to identify a set of useful articles and/or books and to obtain those materials.
Critical Evaluation: the ability to apply principles of analysis to identify unbiased and valid studies.
Instructions: In consultation with your instructors and the list of issues provided, select a topic area as the focus of your literature review. General topic selection is due October 1st . A 5% penalty on the assignment will be assessed for failure to do so.
Once you have a subject area, begin the literature review process by familiarizing yourself with the available research on this topic. Don’t try to read everything, but do consider both articles that are recent and research that forms the foundations of this knowledge base.
Narrow your topic area appropriately to make the task of writing your literature review more manageable. For example, Internet access could be your general topic area. Do you want to focus on providing universal global access to this resource or providing equal access to the Internet to persons with disabilities? Given that both of these topics are also overly broad you’ll want to further narrow the specific topic of your literature review with respect to the available research in the area. You may finally focus on providing Internet access to women in third world countries or facilitating Internet access for persons with limited dexterity. Be wary and wise. Given the proliferation of research on the Internet even these topic areas may be too general to allow you to develop a firm grasp of the research area! Your revised topic area must be registered in writing with the instructors prior to November 6th . A 5% penalty on the assignment will be assessed for failure to do so.
Once you have narrowed your topic sufficiently, you’ll want to locate a range of materials published by experts or scholars in this particular area of study. Examining bibliographies to locate reoccurring names can lead you to the works of key researchers in the field. Scanning for titles of studies that are cited repeatedly can also lead you to influential texts in the area. At this point, you’ll want to gather more materials than you plan to include in your literature review to allow for the winnowing out of substandard or poorly related materials.
When you are reading the materials you’ve collected do so with an eye toward writing your literature review. All good literature reviews perform the following tasks:
Provide a tightly-organized investigation of a single thesis or research question by identifying key research on the topic area.
Synthesize the results of previous research into a summary of (1) what is understood to be historically accurate or accepted practice, (2) what practices or policies are still under question of investigation, (3) what practices or policies have not been well addressed by existing research and (4) what areas of the topic still require investigation.
Identify distinct areas of controversy among previous researchers/research results.
Devise questions that need further research.
(These areas could provide good headings to organize your notes and later your writing.)
Scope: All literature reviews will be expected to encompass at least one major controversy in the specific topic area and to explain this disagreement from at least two competing vantage points. Students will be expected to incorporate reviews of at least 7 closely related sources.
Length: Although there is no length requirement, a fair estimate of length, not including bibliography and appendix, would be approximately 6-8 pages for undergraduates.
Technical requirements: All papers must exceed general writing standards for the appropriate college level. Papers that are poorly written, edited or proofread may be penalized a full letter grade. If you are concerned about your writing proficiency, please make use of the Writing Center resources. Consider exchanging papers with another class member to facilitate editing and proofreading.
Papers should comply with APA (American Psychological Association) citation style throughout. APA resources are readily available on-line or through the Writing Center