example of an academic literature review

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A full set of resources to accompany this feature can be downloaded for free here. Calling all English teachers: does this sound familiar? As structure gcse english lit essay go through extracts in the last lesson on Friday afternoon, you ask carefully crafted questions, and note with satisfaction how students shoot their hands up in a flash, like Barry Allen on the run. Later, back at home, you mark them. What went wrong?

Example of an academic literature review topics research papers educational psychology

Example of an academic literature review

Look for other literature reviews in your area of interest or in the discipline and read them to get a sense of the types of themes you might want to look for in your own research or ways to organize your final review.

There are hundreds or even thousands of articles and books on most areas of study. The narrower your topic, the easier it will be to limit the number of sources you need to read in order to get a good survey of the material. Keep in mind that UNC Libraries have research guides and to databases relevant to many fields of study.

Some disciplines require that you use information that is as current as possible. In the sciences, for instance, treatments for medical problems are constantly changing according to the latest studies. Information even two years old could be obsolete. However, if you are writing a review in the humanities, history, or social sciences, a survey of the history of the literature may be what is needed, because what is important is how perspectives have changed through the years or within a certain time period.

Try sorting through some 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 consider what is currently of interest to scholars in this field and what is not.

A literature review, like a term paper, is usually organized around ideas, not the sources themselves as an annotated bibliography would be organized. This means that you will not just simply list your sources and go into detail about each one of them, one at a time.

As you read widely but selectively in your topic area, consider instead what themes or issues connect your sources together. Do they present one or different solutions? Is there an aspect of the field that is missing? How well do they present the material and do they portray it according to an appropriate theory?

Do they reveal a trend in the field? A raging debate? Pick one of these themes to focus the organization of your review. A literature review may not have a traditional thesis statement one that makes an argument , but you do need to tell readers what to expect. Try writing a simple statement that lets the reader know what is your main organizing principle.

Here are a couple of examples:. Now what is the most effective way of presenting the information? What are the most important topics, subtopics, etc. And in what order should you present them? Develop an organization for your review at both a global and local level:. The following provides a brief description of the content of each:. Once you have the basic categories in place, then you must consider how you will present the sources themselves within the body of your paper.

Create an organizational method to focus this section even further. To help you come up with an overall organizational framework for your review, consider the following scenario:. But these articles refer to some British biological studies performed on whales in the early 18th century. So you check those out. 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.

This makes you wonder about American whaling methods during the time portrayed in Moby Dick, so you find some academic articles published in the last five years on how accurately Herman Melville portrayed the whaling scene in his novel. 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:. 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:. 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.

Select only the most important points in each source to highlight in the review. Falk and Mills do not use any direct quotes. There are a number of different situations where you might write a literature review, each with slightly different expectations; different disciplines, too, have field-specific expectations for what a literature review is and does.

A literature review can be a part of a research paper or scholarly article, usually falling after the introduction and before the research methods sections. In these cases, the lit review just needs to cover scholarship that is important to the issue you are writing about; sometimes it will also cover key sources that informed your research methodology.

Lit reviews can also be standalone pieces, either as assignments in a class or as publications. This can be especially helpful for students or scholars getting into a new research area, or for directing an entire community of scholars toward questions that have not yet been answered. Most lit reviews use a basic introduction-body-conclusion structure; if your lit review is part of a larger paper, the introduction and conclusion pieces may be just a few sentences while you focus most of your attention on the body.

If your lit review is a standalone piece, the introduction and conclusion take up more space and give you a place to discuss your goals, research methods, and conclusions separately from where you discuss the literature itself. Lit reviews can take many different organizational patterns depending on what you are trying to accomplish with the review. Here are some examples:. Any lit review is only as good as the research it discusses; make sure your sources are well-chosen and your research is thorough.

More info on the research process is available in our "Conducting Research" resources. Usually you will need to synthesize research rather than just summarizing it. This means drawing connections between sources to create a picture of the scholarly conversation on a topic over time. Often, the literature review is where you can establish your research as filling a particular gap or as relevant in a particular way.

You have some chance to do this in your introduction in an article, but the literature review section gives a more extended opportunity to establish the conversation in the way you would like your readers to see it. You can choose the intellectual lineage you would like to be part of and whose definitions matter most to your thinking mostly humanities-specific, but this goes for sciences as well.

In addressing these points, you argue for your place in the conversation, which tends to make the lit review more compelling than a simple reporting of other sources. Research and Citation Conducting Research. Writing a Literature Review A literature review is a document or section of a document that collects key sources on a topic and discusses those sources in conversation with each other also called synthesis.

Where, when, and why would I write a lit review? What are the parts of a lit review? Conclusion: Summarize the key findings you have taken from the literature and emphasize their significance Connect it back to your primary research question How should I organize my lit review?

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Is there an aspect of the field that is missing? How well do they present the material and do they portray it according to an appropriate theory? Do they reveal a trend in the field? A raging debate? Pick one of these themes to focus the organization of your review. A literature review may not have a traditional thesis statement one that makes an argument , but you do need to tell readers what to expect.

Try writing a simple statement that lets the reader know what is your main organizing principle. Here are a couple of examples:. Now what is the most effective way of presenting the information? What are the most important topics, subtopics, etc. And in what order should you present them?

Develop an organization for your review at both a global and local level:. The following provides a brief description of the content of each:. Once you have the basic categories in place, then you must consider how you will present the sources themselves within the body of your paper. Create an organizational method to focus this section even further. To help you come up with an overall organizational framework for your review, consider the following scenario:.

But these articles refer to some British biological studies performed on whales in the early 18th century. So you check those out. 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.

This makes you wonder about American whaling methods during the time portrayed in Moby Dick, so you find some academic articles published in the last five years on how accurately Herman Melville portrayed the whaling scene in his novel.

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:. 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:. 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. Select only the most important points in each source to highlight in the review. 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. 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. 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. For tips on the revising and editing process, see our handout on revising drafts. 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.

A literature review should be structured like any other essay: it should have an introduction, a middle or main body, and a conclusion. Introduction The introduction should: define your topic and provide an appropriate context for reviewing the literature; establish your reasons — i. For example, if you were reviewing the literature on obesity in children you might say something like: There are a large number of studies of obesity trends in the general population.

However, since the focus of this research is on obesity in children, these will not be reviewed in detail and will only be referred to as appropriate. Main body The middle or main body should: organise the literature according to common themes; provide insight into the relation between your chosen topic and the wider subject area e. Conclusion The conclusion should: summarise the important aspects of the existing body of literature; evaluate the current state of the literature reviewed; identify significant flaws or gaps in existing knowledge; outline areas for future study; link your research to existing knowledge.

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It can often be useful to look at the quality work of others and learn by observing best practices. We have already covered different types of literature reviews and the tools that can help you write one, as well as how to achieve the right mental attitude and attunement to get you started writing your literature review. Although the previously shared knowledge and techniques can and will support your academic efforts, there is still room to share some direct advice about organizing and structuring your review.

The aim of this post is to serve as guidance with these sorts of challenges. For instance, you can organize your material chronologically. The latter approach would be considered too descriptive for a thorough review. Another approach is to organize the material by themes. You can also choose to present your material by the development of ideas.

For example, the exploration of one topic or theme can lead you to include another section to your review, building one idea of the next. As already mentioned, it can sometimes be beneficial to learn from sound examples.

Here is a published literature review that talks about the correlation between the imaging characteristics of a hamstring injury and the time required before returning to activity:. The link above is a good example of a systematic literature review. Some of its features include:. The next literature review example is on the effect of virtual reality on postural and balance control in patients with a stroke:.

If you plan to undertake a meta-analysis — the gold standard for systematic reviews — you can also have a look at the research paper below exploring literature on cannabinoids for medical use:. This review looked at the benefits and adverse effects of cannabinoids. You'll then state your research question s and hypothesis.

It's clear from the research reviewed that evaluative commentary is widely practiced all through composition programs in universities today. Together with this, it's also evident that the field of composition studies in regards to the kinds of commentary that students get on their writing is varied and continues to be examined and analyzed to benefit both composition students and the society at large.

Moreover, corrective vs. Assuming that you want to compose a literature review concerning the efficiency of short-term group therapy in lowering depression amongst residents of a nursing home. You've now done research and compiled a list of the areas covered by your research:.

The outline moves from general to specific. As you proceed down the outline, you'll deal with the material in rising depth, just as the significance of the information to your project rises. Look at how the following literature review example apa impacts readability: sentence strength, focus, placement of citation, active vs. Motivation entails various expectations Snappe, ; Krkel, A large study done by Amundson examined the beliefs people entering literacy programs, particularly outcome expectations and self-efficacy regardless of obstacles.

Paape , and in a follow-up project Johnson , examined resistance to motivational efforts or the tendency to overlook information about an issue that's difficult to acknowledge. A literacy promotion program needs to overcome the inclination to minimize the problem and to assist people to believe.

Individuals need to be motivated to make such a decision Smith, ; Jones, ; Brown, Motivation involves at least two types of expectations Snappe, Krakel, One must believe that literacy will positively affect one's life outcome expectations and also one can succeed in the effort to learn new skills regardless of obstacles Amunon, Other research reveals that when the problem isn't easy to acknowledge, people tend to overlook information about, that is, to resist motivational efforts 9Paape, ; Johnson, All these findings suggest that a literacy promotion program needs to overcome the tendency to minimize the problem and to assist people to believe.

Comparing the above literature review example paragraphs ought to demonstrate how some rhetorical choices impact readability and clarity. Use headings and topic sentences to inform readers what the subject is and what point the material is contributing to the discussion.

Do not just point to the existence of literature on the topic; compose about methods or results in the studies you discuss. Your tone should be objective as you summarize the research. Don't allow your objectivity to turn your literature review to an annotated bibliography. Instead, point out as you proceed how studies relate to one another for example, Smith and Jones utilized various samples to study the same phenomenon.

Try to be analytical. Composing a review is an exercise in comparative thinking. Your critique should be in your final discussion, where they will be more efficient and significant to the reader. Connect paragraphs to one another, and link studies within paragraphs. Try to make your literature review attractive by coming up with the topic sentence of each paragraph in a way that it achieves two things: it hooks in a way to the previous paragraph and also reveals what this new paragraph will be about, for instance; "In contrast to these studies, which have tried to measure the amount of stress a person is subjected to, various researchers are now concentrating on a person's perception of demanding life events.

These connections may need to be made within a paragraph and also among a group of paragraphs, for instance, "Jones and Smith were amongst the first persons to investigate the impacts of abuse towards children Like Jones, Smith also utilized the State-Trait Inventory but incorporated males in his sample" or "Lee's studies of learned vulnerability support this study's view of modification of behavior as situation-specific.

Select verbs that precisely describe what the research did; hypothesized, questioned, developed, executed, measured, tested, and modified have divergent meanings. Use direct quotes sparingly. They take up more space than sentences constructed to recap the original.

Quotations my comprise concept and vocabulary not familiar to the reader. Utilize verb tenses appropriately. Use the past tense to recap studies and procedures, for instance, "At least a third of those sampled in one study said that they would both reject socially and dread violence from someone exhibiting behaviors associated with various mental illnesses. In addition, use the active and passive voice correctly. The active voice "Jennifer repeated the test with three samples" is not as wordy as the passive voice "This test was repeated with three samples by Jennifer".

Nevertheless, it's good to use the passive voice when the object is more important than the subject for instance,"The players from the senior team were shown the video" ; when the subject is unknown "This phenomenon was first defined in line with 18 th century standards" ; when it wouldn't be a good idea to identify the subject "The first set of data wasn't correctly coded" ; and when putting the object before the subject more lucidly connects to a previous sentence or paragraph " These techniques were also assessed Overuse of the passive voice implies that research is happening by itself and the reader will be confused about who's doing what.

Citing supportive sources only - It is crucial that you also mention those studies that contradict your stance. In other words, mention some dissenting studies and explain why they deviate from your thinking. Depending on direct quotations - Even though it's okay to include direct quotations, don't depend on them too much.

If you want to know more about how to write a literature review, the information above will greatly assist you. Remember, a literature review can be termed as discursive prose, not a list summarizing several pieces of literature.

Consider, that essay on rhetorical strategies join. was

Moreover, corrective vs. Assuming that you want to compose a literature review concerning the efficiency of short-term group therapy in lowering depression amongst residents of a nursing home. You've now done research and compiled a list of the areas covered by your research:. The outline moves from general to specific. As you proceed down the outline, you'll deal with the material in rising depth, just as the significance of the information to your project rises.

Look at how the following literature review example apa impacts readability: sentence strength, focus, placement of citation, active vs. Motivation entails various expectations Snappe, ; Krkel, A large study done by Amundson examined the beliefs people entering literacy programs, particularly outcome expectations and self-efficacy regardless of obstacles. Paape , and in a follow-up project Johnson , examined resistance to motivational efforts or the tendency to overlook information about an issue that's difficult to acknowledge.

A literacy promotion program needs to overcome the inclination to minimize the problem and to assist people to believe. Individuals need to be motivated to make such a decision Smith, ; Jones, ; Brown, Motivation involves at least two types of expectations Snappe, Krakel, One must believe that literacy will positively affect one's life outcome expectations and also one can succeed in the effort to learn new skills regardless of obstacles Amunon, Other research reveals that when the problem isn't easy to acknowledge, people tend to overlook information about, that is, to resist motivational efforts 9Paape, ; Johnson, All these findings suggest that a literacy promotion program needs to overcome the tendency to minimize the problem and to assist people to believe.

Comparing the above literature review example paragraphs ought to demonstrate how some rhetorical choices impact readability and clarity. Use headings and topic sentences to inform readers what the subject is and what point the material is contributing to the discussion. Do not just point to the existence of literature on the topic; compose about methods or results in the studies you discuss. Your tone should be objective as you summarize the research.

Don't allow your objectivity to turn your literature review to an annotated bibliography. Instead, point out as you proceed how studies relate to one another for example, Smith and Jones utilized various samples to study the same phenomenon. Try to be analytical. Composing a review is an exercise in comparative thinking.

Your critique should be in your final discussion, where they will be more efficient and significant to the reader. Connect paragraphs to one another, and link studies within paragraphs. Try to make your literature review attractive by coming up with the topic sentence of each paragraph in a way that it achieves two things: it hooks in a way to the previous paragraph and also reveals what this new paragraph will be about, for instance; "In contrast to these studies, which have tried to measure the amount of stress a person is subjected to, various researchers are now concentrating on a person's perception of demanding life events.

These connections may need to be made within a paragraph and also among a group of paragraphs, for instance, "Jones and Smith were amongst the first persons to investigate the impacts of abuse towards children Like Jones, Smith also utilized the State-Trait Inventory but incorporated males in his sample" or "Lee's studies of learned vulnerability support this study's view of modification of behavior as situation-specific.

Select verbs that precisely describe what the research did; hypothesized, questioned, developed, executed, measured, tested, and modified have divergent meanings. Use direct quotes sparingly. They take up more space than sentences constructed to recap the original. Quotations my comprise concept and vocabulary not familiar to the reader. Utilize verb tenses appropriately.

Use the past tense to recap studies and procedures, for instance, "At least a third of those sampled in one study said that they would both reject socially and dread violence from someone exhibiting behaviors associated with various mental illnesses. In addition, use the active and passive voice correctly. The active voice "Jennifer repeated the test with three samples" is not as wordy as the passive voice "This test was repeated with three samples by Jennifer".

Nevertheless, it's good to use the passive voice when the object is more important than the subject for instance,"The players from the senior team were shown the video" ; when the subject is unknown "This phenomenon was first defined in line with 18 th century standards" ; when it wouldn't be a good idea to identify the subject "The first set of data wasn't correctly coded" ; and when putting the object before the subject more lucidly connects to a previous sentence or paragraph " These techniques were also assessed Overuse of the passive voice implies that research is happening by itself and the reader will be confused about who's doing what.

Citing supportive sources only - It is crucial that you also mention those studies that contradict your stance. In other words, mention some dissenting studies and explain why they deviate from your thinking. Depending on direct quotations - Even though it's okay to include direct quotations, don't depend on them too much.

If you want to know more about how to write a literature review, the information above will greatly assist you. Remember, a literature review can be termed as discursive prose, not a list summarizing several pieces of literature. Organize your review into segments that present themes or pinpoint trends, including pertinent theory. Your task isn't to list all published material; it's to synthesize and examine it in line with the guiding concept of your research question or thesis.

To see how these tips are brought to life, go through an example of literature review. You'll then state your research question s and hypothesis. It's clear from the research reviewed that evaluative commentary is widely practiced all through composition programs in universities today. Together with this, it's also evident that the field of composition studies in regards to the kinds of commentary that students get on their writing is varied and continues to be examined and analyzed to benefit both composition students and the society at large.

Moreover, corrective vs. Assuming that you want to compose a literature review concerning the efficiency of short-term group therapy in lowering depression amongst residents of a nursing home. You've now done research and compiled a list of the areas covered by your research:. The outline moves from general to specific. As you proceed down the outline, you'll deal with the material in rising depth, just as the significance of the information to your project rises.

Look at how the following literature review example apa impacts readability: sentence strength, focus, placement of citation, active vs. Motivation entails various expectations Snappe, ; Krkel, A large study done by Amundson examined the beliefs people entering literacy programs, particularly outcome expectations and self-efficacy regardless of obstacles. Paape , and in a follow-up project Johnson , examined resistance to motivational efforts or the tendency to overlook information about an issue that's difficult to acknowledge.

A literacy promotion program needs to overcome the inclination to minimize the problem and to assist people to believe. Individuals need to be motivated to make such a decision Smith, ; Jones, ; Brown, Motivation involves at least two types of expectations Snappe, Krakel, One must believe that literacy will positively affect one's life outcome expectations and also one can succeed in the effort to learn new skills regardless of obstacles Amunon, Other research reveals that when the problem isn't easy to acknowledge, people tend to overlook information about, that is, to resist motivational efforts 9Paape, ; Johnson, All these findings suggest that a literacy promotion program needs to overcome the tendency to minimize the problem and to assist people to believe.

Comparing the above literature review example paragraphs ought to demonstrate how some rhetorical choices impact readability and clarity. Use headings and topic sentences to inform readers what the subject is and what point the material is contributing to the discussion. Do not just point to the existence of literature on the topic; compose about methods or results in the studies you discuss. Your tone should be objective as you summarize the research.

Don't allow your objectivity to turn your literature review to an annotated bibliography. Instead, point out as you proceed how studies relate to one another for example, Smith and Jones utilized various samples to study the same phenomenon. Try to be analytical. Composing a review is an exercise in comparative thinking.

Your critique should be in your final discussion, where they will be more efficient and significant to the reader. Connect paragraphs to one another, and link studies within paragraphs. Try to make your literature review attractive by coming up with the topic sentence of each paragraph in a way that it achieves two things: it hooks in a way to the previous paragraph and also reveals what this new paragraph will be about, for instance; "In contrast to these studies, which have tried to measure the amount of stress a person is subjected to, various researchers are now concentrating on a person's perception of demanding life events.

These connections may need to be made within a paragraph and also among a group of paragraphs, for instance, "Jones and Smith were amongst the first persons to investigate the impacts of abuse towards children Like Jones, Smith also utilized the State-Trait Inventory but incorporated males in his sample" or "Lee's studies of learned vulnerability support this study's view of modification of behavior as situation-specific.

Select verbs that precisely describe what the research did; hypothesized, questioned, developed, executed, measured, tested, and modified have divergent meanings. Use direct quotes sparingly. They take up more space than sentences constructed to recap the original. Quotations my comprise concept and vocabulary not familiar to the reader.

Utilize verb tenses appropriately. Use the past tense to recap studies and procedures, for instance, "At least a third of those sampled in one study said that they would both reject socially and dread violence from someone exhibiting behaviors associated with various mental illnesses.

In addition, use the active and passive voice correctly. The active voice "Jennifer repeated the test with three samples" is not as wordy as the passive voice "This test was repeated with three samples by Jennifer". Nevertheless, it's good to use the passive voice when the object is more important than the subject for instance,"The players from the senior team were shown the video" ; when the subject is unknown "This phenomenon was first defined in line with 18 th century standards" ; when it wouldn't be a good idea to identify the subject "The first set of data wasn't correctly coded" ; and when putting the object before the subject more lucidly connects to a previous sentence or paragraph " These techniques were also assessed Overuse of the passive voice implies that research is happening by itself and the reader will be confused about who's doing what.

Citing supportive sources only - It is crucial that you also mention those studies that contradict your stance. In other words, mention some dissenting studies and explain why they deviate from your thinking.

Depending on direct quotations - Even though it's okay to include direct quotations, don't depend on them too much. If you want to know more about how to write a literature review, the information above will greatly assist you.