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Research Methods Information : Writing a Literature Review

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Selected Books on Analytical/Critical Thinking

Writing Tip: More Than Content


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Don't Just Review for Content!

While conducting a review of the literature, maximize the time you devote to writing this part of your paper by thinking broadly about what you should be looking for and evaluating. Review not just what scholars are saying, but how are they saying it. Some questions to ask:

  • How are they organizing their ideas?
  • What methods have they used to study the problem?
  • What theories have been used to explain, predict, or understand their research problem?
  • What sources have they cited to support of their conclusions?
  • How have they used non-textual elements [e.g., charts, graphs, figures, etc.] to illustrate key points?

When you begin to write your literature review section, you'll be glad you dug deeper into how the research was constructed because it lays a foundation for  developing more substantial analysis and interpretation of the research problem.


Hart, Chris. Doing a Literature Review: Releasing the Social Science Research Imagination. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 1998.


By Dr. Robert Labaree of the University of Southern California Libraries and used with his generous permission.

 

What is Critical Thinking?


thoughtful person


Critical thinking "is defined as reasonable, reflective, responsible, and skillful thinking that is focused on deciding what to believe or do. Critical thinking is analytical thinking. This type of thinking takes problems apart radically and down to their roots, in order to solve the problems.

But critical thinking is also defined as practicing the detachment and distancing to question the conventional wisdom -- and even negatively as debunking for the sake of one-upmanship.

A person who thinks critically can ask appropriate questions, gather relevant information, efficiently and creatively sort through this information, reason logically from this information, and come to reliable and trustworthy conclusions about the world that enable one to live and act successfully in it."


From Santa Rosa Junior College. The page from which this quotation is taken includes some useful commentary on the

  • Attributes of a critical thinker.
  • Three levels of thought.
  • Stages of critical thinking development.
  • The problem of egocentric thinking.
  • The problem of sociocentric thinking.
  • Critical thinking in the workplace.
  • How do cognitive scientists define critical thinking?
  • Test of your critical thinking skills.

VIDEO: How To Read a Scholarly Journal Article


A well-presented and easy-to-follow discussion.

Published on August 21, 2012 by the Kishwaukee College Library | Runtime: 5:11 min.


For more tutorials on reading scholarly research see this page on this guide:
How to Read Research Literature | Text & Video Tutorials

Writing a Literature Review | Resources

A literature review provides your reader with an overview of sources on a particular topic.  In research, the purpose of a literature review is to demonstrate how your topic of investigation fits into the larger field of study.

These non-APUS links provide useful information on researching and writing a successful literature review.

VIDEO: Writing the Literature Review, Part 1


San Jose King Library video title screen

The San Jose State University Library provides an excellent overview for the kind of literature review you need to write for the thesis/capstone paper. They have relocated the video to their own website. In addition to the video, a transcript has been provided.  Here is the link to video.



David Taylor of the
University of Maryland University College Writing Center has created a three-part instructional presentation on the process of writing a literature review.  They are posted here with his kind permission.

PART ONE | Published on June 28, 2010 | Runtime: 5:22 min

VIDEO: Writing the Literature Review, Part 2


David Taylor of the
University of Maryland University College Writing Center  has created a three-part instructional presentation on the process of writing a literature review.  They are posted here with his kind permission.

PART TWO | Published on June 28, 2010 | Runtime: 7:41 min

VIDEO: Writing the Literature Review | Part 3


David Taylor of the
University of Maryland University College Writing Center  has created a three-part instructional presentation on the process of writing a literature review.  They are posted here with his kind permission.

PART THREE | Published on June 28, 2010 | Runtime: 6:06 min

Selected Books on Analytical/Critical Reading

Selected Books on Writing a Literature Review

Annotated Bibliography vs Literature Review: How are They Different?


Tweedledum and Tweedledee

Writing an Interdisciplinary Literature Review


open box

Break Out of Your Disciplinary Box!

Thinking interdisciplinarily about a research problem can be a rewarding exercise in applying new ideas, theories, or concepts to an old problem. For example, what might cultural anthropologists say about the continuing conflict in the Middle East?

In what ways might geographers view the need for better distribution of social service agencies in large cities than how social workers might study the issue?

You don’t want to substitute a thorough review of core research literature in your discipline for studies conducted in other fields of study. However, particularly in the social sciences, thinking about research problems from multiple vectors is a key strategy for finding new solutions.

Consult with a librarian about identifying research databases in other disciplines; almost every field of study has at least one comprehensive database devoted to indexing its research literature.


By Dr. Robert Labaree of the University of Southern California Libraries and used with his generous permission.

Writing Tip: When to Stop Writing


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When Do I Know I Can Stop Looking and Move On?

Here are several strategies you can utilize to assess whether you've adequately reviewed the literature:

  • Look for repeating patterns in the research findings. If the same thing is being said, just by different people, then this likely demonstrates that the research problem has hit a conceptual dead end. At this point consider: Does your study extend current research?  Does it forge a new path? Or, does is merely add more of the same thing being said?
  • Look at sources the authors cite to in their work. If you begin to see the same researchers cited again and again, then this is often an indication that no new ideas have been introduced in addressing the research question.

  • Search the Web of Science [a.k.a., Knowledge] Citation database and Google Scholar to identify who has subsequently cited leading scholars already identified in your literature review. This is called citation tracking and there are a number of sources that can help you identify who has cited whom, particularly scholars from outside of your discipline. If the same authors are being cited again and again, this may indicate no new literature has been written on the topic.

By Dr. Robert Labaree of the University of Southern California Libraries and used with his generous permission.

 

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