Week 5 is about organizing all of your sources into an Annotated Bibliography (Assignment 2) and evaluating them in terms of how they address your research questions and critiquing the strengths and weaknesses of your sources. This will ultimately be a foundation of your Final Project Presentation (Assignment 3 due in Week 7).
We will also focus on the literature review (not the same at your annotated bibliography). The purpose of both is to provide information on current publications about a particular topic. Literature reviews are highly condensed and heavily documented. In this project, your literature review will become part of your final project.
A literature review describes the “literature” (that is, the important source material) on a particular topic. A literature review also helps you synthesize literature on your topic because in the process of writing a literature review, the writer learns to (1) identify various important issues/questions raised in the literature, and (2) sort and categorize experts’ views according to the issues/questions identified in the literature. The primary purpose is to provide your target audience with an overview of what the experts are saying about the problem under investigation. Your report will update your target audience on the recent research in the field.
Simply, what you are doing is reviewing the current state of research on the topic. It is best to include sources that are at the most 3 years old. If the work is foundational (one of the “thought leaders” of the content area, it can be older. This section differs from your background section in that the background information is more general in scope. This section concentrates on issues and aspects of the field that specifically relate to the question(s) for which you are seeking answers. As such, this section should also incorporate an examination of the varying viewpoints surrounding your question, in order to orient the reader in the discourse of the field. Keep in mind, however, that at this stage of the thesis writing your goal is simply to present these varying viewpoints, not to be critical of them or give your opinion. That comes later. This section should also be given a topic-specific title, and should be organized by ideas rather than by authors or works. Using subsections is a practical means of distinguishing the different approaches to the problem (identifying the research questions). For example, if you are going to discuss health literacy and cultural competency, you want to make sure the sections are labeled as such. Finally, you want to be sure and include/discussion social concepts within this section.
Completion of this assignment will build your skills in the following areas: critical reading, evaluation, analysis, synthesis, report organization, use and integration of sources, and APA documentation. Developing these skills will demonstrate great progress toward achieving our course goals.
Writing a Literature Review – You will find the various sources helpful
A literature review asks: What do we know – or not know – about this particular issue/ topic/ subject?
How well you answer this question depends upon:
the effectiveness of your search for information
the quality & reliability of the sources you choose
your ability to synthesize the sources you select
Visualizing “The Literature” and “The Review”
The Process: Search, Assess, Summarize, Synthesize
A Basic Overview of the Literature Review Process
Begin with a Synthesis Matrix
As you read, you’ll encounter various ideas, disagreements, methods, and perspectives which can be hard to organize in a meaningful way.
A synthesis matrix helps you record the main points of each source and document how sources relate to each other.
Literature Review: Synthesizing Multiple Sources
Writing a Literature Review & Using a Synthesis Matrix
Using a Matrix to Organize Research
Use this matrix template
Find Good Models
Search for Literature Reviews
Look for other literature reviews in your subject area to see how they are written.