Literature Review Instructions 100 Points Assignment Overview: The purpose of th

Literature Review Instructions
100 Points
Assignment Overview:
The purpose of this assignment is for students to demonstrate their ability to synthesize findings from a stream of
research on a specific topic and to evaluate the methodology used in the reviewed studies. Students will identify 10
empirical research articles published recently on a narrow topic. The Literature Review consists of an introduction,
synthesis of findings from scholarly sources, a discussion and evaluation of the sources (including disputes and
disagreements), and a conclusion.
The purpose of a literature review is threefold:
1. To summarize and assess the state of existing knowledge on your narrowed topic. What knowledge exists
and is generally accepted with regard to your topic? Are there important differences or disagreements
among scholars? Are there significant problems or limitations with any of the research studies? Which
research methods were employed in the various research studies, which were not, and with what
consequences? What questions remain unanswered? What aspects or approaches seem relatively
2. To develop a more nuanced understanding of your topic. Through the process of reviewing existing
knowledge you will also develop a deep and more complex understanding of your topic. 3. To raise questions
for further research. In other words, what is the gap? What are you left wondering? What questions or
aspects of the issue do you find have been unanswered, underexplored or overlooked? How would our
understanding be improved by pursuing those questions or angles?
*Note. After reading a literature review, you should be able to identify several potential research questions for
future research. In published articles, you may notice that the purpose statement follows the literature review and
shows the need for the current study.
Required Elements: Each element should be included as a Level 1 (APA Style) header in the paper.
I. Introduction (~3 paragraphs; 1-1.5 pages): The introduction begins with a hook statement that grabs the
reader’s attention and introduces the research problem. (This is often done with the use of statistics to
show prevalence). The topic of interest is adequately explained to the reader. The introduction also
presents an overview of the various sub topics and issues that scholarly researchers have studied in this
topic area. This section should include key definitions to help the reader understand the topic. The
introduction should demonstrate why a review of the literature is necessary by showing a clear gap in the
a. The introduction should contain references separate from the 10 articles reviewed in the synthesis
section of the paper. The references in the introduction include information to introduce the
problem, demonstrate the impact of the problem, and show gaps in current research.
b. Although commentaries, white papers, reviews (systematic, literature, or meta-analyses) are not
acceptable for the synthesis section, they may be used in this section. All references used in this
paper must be included on the reference page.
The introduction concludes with the purpose statement (Module 5). For example, “The purpose of this
literature review is to investigate the effect of (independent variable) on (dependent variable).”
II. Synthesis (about 3+ paragraphs; 1.5-2 pages): The synthesis section presents the findings from the 10
empirical research articles you identified that addressed your narrow research topic. Focus the synthesis on the
purpose and findings of the articles being reviewed. When writing this section, be sure to include all in-text
citations for all 10 reviewed articles. The goal of this section is to fill the identified gap as stated in the
introduction. Students should use the synthesis process (Module 2) to write this section of the paper. a. The
synthesis should be organized into sub-sections using Level 2 (APA) headings. Each sub-section
covers a specific topic to synthesize and organize the reviewed articles. Students should use their
matrix/concept map (Module 5) to organize the synthesis section.
b. Each paragraph should have a clear topic sentence. Do not simply summarize each source in
separate paragraphs. The paragraphs in your synthesis should focus on specific issues, not
necessarily on individual authors. For example, if you were studying obesity in rural children, one
paragraph might present what three scholars have reported regarding education programs in
schools, even though one or more of those authors might show up again in another paragraph on
home-based programs. This paper may have subsections in the synthesis labeled “School-Based
Programs” and “Home-Based Programs.”
III. Discussion and Evaluation (about 2+ paragraphs; 1-1.5 pages): This section is your discussion and
evaluation of the articles from your synthesis section and not your discussion of the issues themselves.
Instead, you are interpreting and evaluating the knowledge presented in the summary section in order to
raise questions for further research (gaps in knowledge). This section should focus primarily on the
methodology of each article.
a. Topics for this section may include discussions of the significance of various conclusions and
arguments, the completeness of individual studies, the research methods used in reviewed studies,
substantial areas of disagreement among the reviewed studies, debates over definitions of terms in
the reviewed studies, and/or the consistency of the results among the reviewed studies.
b. As you present your evaluation, do so cautiously with thorough analysis and explanation.
Challenging the results of a professional study with only one isolated observation or opinion will
reveal your naiveté more than any real weakness in the study. Share your evaluation without using
the first person (I, me, my, mine); doing so will shift the reader’s focus away from the subject and
onto you, the writer. As you discuss and evaluate the knowledge and issues about your narrowed
topic, raise questions for further study. Refer directly to your reviewed studies by using in-text
citations. Do not introduce new references in this section.
*Note. Although you may take issue with aspects of the research and findings in your sources, it is very rare for the
discussion to include a complete dismissal of any one source. If you read a source and find that it has nothing or
little of value to offer on your topic, then do not include it in the literature review. Further, it is important to
distinguish between evaluation for analytical purposes and evaluation for entertainment purposes. While this kind
of essay is called a literature “review,” it is not a review in the sense of a movie review. You should not be
concerned with whether the material you have reviewed is interesting. The purpose, rather, is to demonstrate how
considering various arguments and approaches improves our understanding and engages us in new questions for
future exploration.
IV. Conclusion: (1-2 paragraphs; 1 page): The conclusion summarizes the knowledge revealed through the
synthesis and the discussion and evaluation section while identifying areas for further research. The
conclusion section should address the following “big questions”:
a. After reviewing the literature, what do we know?
b. After reviewing the literature, what don’t we know (gaps in knowledge)?
If you have personal experience or knowledge relevant to the topic, it may be included in the conclusion.
*Note. If you are conducting research for reasons beyond this course, bring your conclusion to a close with an
additional purpose statement that summarizes the intent of your future study. Notify the instructor if this applies
to you by leaving a note in the assignment comment box. There should be an apparent connection between the new
area of inquiry and the summary of existing knowledge.
• Papers should be 5 – 6 pages (excluding the title page and reference page)
• The synthesis should include 10 empirical studies published within the last 5 years.
• Papers should be formatted using APA (7
th ed.) formatting (AMA acceptable for Nutrition students). • Papers
should include in-text citations and a reference page for all sources used in the paper. • Information from
sources should be paraphrased. Papers should not include direct quotations. This will result in a reduction
of points on the assignment.
• Credible websites, commentaries, white papers, and reviews may be in the Introduction section to
introduce the topic but will not count as one of the 10 reviewed studies for the synthesis section. •
Papers should be double-spaced in 12-point Times New Roman or Arial font with 1-inch margins. •
Papers should include the following elements:
o Title Page
▪ Include an informative, interesting, creative title that reflects your narrowed topic
o Running head included on all pages following the title page (APA style)
o Introduction
o Synthesis
▪ Include subsection headings to organize the synthesis.
o Discussion/Evaluation
o Conclusion
o References
• Include Level 1 headers for all components of the Required Elements section. Use Level 2 sub-headings
based on your topic to guide the reader in the Synthesis section.
Additional Considerations:
• Audience: The audience for a literature review is a somewhat hypothetical body of fellow researchers. These
are people interested in the same issues and who are usually working in a similar field. Thus, you are
expected to use vocabulary appropriate to your subject matter. For example, the term “attachment” has a
specific set of meanings and connotations within child development. If you choose to write about this
subject, then you are expected to familiarize yourself with that word and others and use them accurately in
your explanations and analysis. Note and lookup commonly used terms as you run across them in your
reading. Consider how they are used in context and with what connotations. Acquiring the vocabulary of the
discipline is an important part of being able to express yourself with clarity and precision. Showing that you
are conversant with the vocabulary and concepts common to the discipline is also an important part of
establishing your authority to analyze the contributions of others.
• Style and Tone: In tone, consider that you are writing for a body of professionals. You should be reasonably
objective, particularly in quantitative disciplines. Betraying a strong emotional investment may cast doubt
on your credibility. Thus, your tone and style should emphasize that you are interested in furthering
understanding rather than establishing that you are right or winning an argument. Moreover, the focus in
this paper is not on you; it is on the texts and topic you are analyzing and synthesizing. Therefore, do not
use the first person (I, me, my, mine). Nor should you find occasion to use the second person (you, your,
you’re), for example, to address the reader directly as in, “Having considered the many facets of this
problem, you may wonder how it can possibly be solved.” Such language is overly informal for this kind of
academic writing and shifts the focus to the reader and away from the topic of your essay. A possible
revision could be: “A consideration of the many facets of this problem clearly indicates that solving it will
be difficult.” Avoid the use of direct quotations. Direct quotations are rarely used in published studies.
Summaries, as opposed to direct quotations, demonstrate your level of comprehension.
• Organization: Each of your body paragraphs should have a topic sentence. Paragraphs in academic writing are
(usually) between 1/3 – 3/4 of a page long. If shorter than that, you may not be adequately developing your
ideas. If the ideas or information don’t deserve to be developed further, then you might consider combining
the content of the short paragraph with another paragraph; in such a case, you would need to revise the
topic sentence so that it covers the combined materials. If a paragraph is much longer than 3/4 of a page,
you risk losing the attention of your reader as well as losing focus in your paragraph itself. Finally, be sure
to use headings and transition sentences that logically guide the reader.

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