WRIT 300: Literature Review Danika Rockett University of Baltimore Summer 2009
The Basics: Getting Started • Identify a key concept, theory, debate, or topic related to your major. • In the library, find three recently published scholarly articles about that topic. • Read and summarize them, and begin to draft your literature review.
Examples of topics • Psychology – “male adolescents and addictions to video games” • History – “the effects of the Cold War on current attitudes about politics in the US” • Criminal justice – “gang initiation rites in federal prisons” • Government and Public Policy – “effectiveness of state-regulated commercial fishing quotas on blue claw crabs” • Simulation and Digital Entertainment – “how does the ‘uncanny valley’ affect the video game design industry?”
What is a Literature Review? • A lit review is a discussion of writings that are based on your research topic. • Lit reviews provide crucial background information for understanding your own research. • A lit review also contextualizes your research within existing research. • Literature reviews are normally located towards the beginning of a larger research paper, so that you can refer to the readings discussed in the literature review throughout the paper. • Note: The lit review you will write for this class is a stand-alone project, but you can use it to inform your research paper.
How is a Literature Review Written? • For this class, you may summarize your sources without providing too much analysis. • First, identify a current, specific topic in your field that you would like to know more about. • Then, choose three scholarly articles that deal with that topic. Articles must be recent!
How is a Literature Review Written? • As an example, let’s say you were writing a paper that argues that violent video games are not nearly as dangerous as many feel they are … • First, you might claim that the dangers of violence in the media in general have been overstated. • Second, you might then claim, more specifically, that the effects of violent video games have been overstated. • As you summarize the literature, be careful that you're not just discussing each piece of writing in a vacuum. Relate each source to one another • Finally, you will provide your overall conclusions based on the sources you looked at.
Possible Outline I. In recent years, debate has arisen over the effects of violence in the media. • For example, when the Columbine school shooting occurred in 1999, some people claimed that heavy metal music as well as the video game Doom played a role … For example, … However, a growing body of research indicates that the effects of violence in the media have been overstated. To illustrate, we can look at research by Robert Cohen and Tim Williams; Sandra Green; and Joseph Kelly. II. More specifically, recent research has also called into questions the popular public assumption that video game violence leads to real life violence. • One important research study that demonstrates this was conducted by Cohen and Williams (2003), who found that... • A much different study that yielded similar results was conducted by Green (2006), who found... • A similar study was conducted by Kelly (2008), who argued.... III. Therefore, it seems obvious after examining these sources that the effects of violence in the media may have been exaggerated • As we have seen from Cohen and Williams, Green, and Kelly … Obviously, there are those who argue that this kind of violence leads to … However, more research is needed …
Elements of your Literature Review Your review should include the following items: • Title page • Introduction • Body (summaries, approximately one or two paragraphs each, of the three journal articles) • Conclusions • References
The Introduction • The introduction informs readers of the topic that is under review; this should be clear to the reader within the first few sentences of the introduction. You can begin with a more general statement, and then move into your more specific topic. Note: Try to get your reader’s attention in the beginning • The intro establishes the importance of your topic and explains the organization that is to follow throughout the rest of the paper. • Be sure to ‘preview’ the sources you will be summarizing. They should be listed here in the order they are presented in the body.
Writing the Body • The body includes the author’s presentation and discussion of the chosen sources. • Overall, the body is a summary of the key points of each source you are using. • Ask yourself, “What does each source reveal about my topic?” • You should paraphrase—you should not cite directly from the sources. Put the information into your own words. • The most readable review papers make good use of subheadings. • Important: Each source should be summarized in its own paragraph(s)!
Writing the Conclusion • Once relevant research has been reviewed, any relations among those studies (e.g., common hypotheses, methods, results, flaws, etc.) should be summarized briefly, and the significance of these relations should be stated. (Do they agree or disagree?) • It is incumbent on the author of the review paper to reach some conclusions, however tentative they might be.The conclusions section may mention ambiguous or contradictory results, or may observe that important demographics or populations have not been included in prior studies.
Other Information • Length: 750 words (3 pages double-spaced, not counting the title page and reference page) • Due dates: • Peer Review: Wed, June 10 • Final Draft: Mon, June15 • KnightCitations • Sample Paper Handout