If you have research questions, let me know or contact Nicole.
Nicole Branch, Associate University Librarian for Learning & Engagement
Contact Info: email@example.com, 408-554-5436
Link to Library Workshop Libguide: https://libguides.scu.edu/c.php?g=880289&p=6323624
Now that you're well-informed on the background of your topic and have arrived at the preliminary answers to your research question(s), write a literature review that locates those findings in existing research by placing appropriate/relevant argument sources--i.e. research others have done on this topic/related topics--in conversation with one another.
This assignment focuses on CTW2's information literacy goals of locating multiple, credible perspectives, integrating sources based on a clear purpose, ethically/accurately representing & documenting sources, and developing original arguments/interpretation based on research. This literature review (in revised form) will eventually become part of the introduction to your Complete Project Portfolio. Outside this class, literature reviews are used in research-based writing in STEM fields, social science disciplines, and many humanities fields. All research-based writing engages with existing scholarship in various forms,using many of the same techniques (if not the specific conventions of the literature review). A major emphasis of a literature review is synthesis--integrating multiple sources to give an overview of the wider conversation or state of the art on a subject--a skills essential for research-based writing done outside the academy in industry, non-profit, and public sector workplaces.
Using techniques from the library session led by Nicole Branch on 2/19, locate 5-7 argument sources that relate to your topic and findings. These will typically be peer-reviewed sources from academic journals, but could take other forms as long as they meet the argument source criteria of being sources it makes sense to compare your findings with, i.e. whose goals, approach, and topics parallel yours--consult with Dr. Voss if you have questions. Careful source selection is essential for a good literature review: these argument sources should include both classic/influential research and recent research, reflecting the scope of the research conversation you're joining and its current status.
The goal of a literature review is to explain to the reader the research conversation you're entering, setting up the significance of your research in terms of 1) the scope/level of interest in this area and 2) the limits/problems with existing research that call for your own research, using Swales' CARS moves.
As in-class examples and discussions demonstrate, write your literature review as a topically-organized discussion of perspectives on your research area (see Greene), not a series of disconnected article summaries. This will probably involve the use of multiple sections/paragraphs identifying & describing several relevant traditions/disciplines/conversations that relate to your research. When discussing your Argument sources
- summarize their arguments/findings in your own words (see in-class discussion of summary vs. patchwriting vs. copying)
- use language (reporting verbs, adverbs, qualifying terms, etc--see Harvey) that makes clear your stance on this research and illustrates the relationships/conflicts/etc that define existing research
Because this literature review is a free-standing document (which will eventually become its own section of your Complete Project Portfolio), include an introduction that gives an overview of the subjects/conversations you'll be discussing and conclude by summarizing the trends of the research conversation that your findings engage, showing how your project brings these topics together.
Your audience for this literature review (as for your Complete Project Portfolio as a whole) is other researchers studying your topic. These readers are most interested in a brief, accurate analytical summary of existing relevant research explaining
- the major ideas and the relationships between them (what's already known)
- what's at stake (why this topic and its sub-areas are worth studying)
- why what you have to add is important (what's missing, misunderstood, flawed, etc in existing research)
Your fellow researchers have high expectations for the quality/relevance of your sources, your accuracy/ethics in representing them, and clear attribution (distinguishing your sources' ideas from your evaluation of them & allowing readers to follow your lead back to sources that interest them).
- 2/19: Argument source research workshop with Nicole Branch
- 2/21: learning about literature reviews & setting up conversations between your argument sources
- 2/26: writing about & citing sources to lead into your own research
- 2/28: literature review due before class