begin writing the Literature Review. A Literature Review is a survey of the published academic works on your topic which are related to your Thesis Question and Statement. The purpose of the Literature Review is threefold. First, it conveys to the reader that you are familiar with the existing scholarly research germane to your thesis statement. Second, the Literature Review demonstrates that you are familiar with the central themes, concepts and debates relevant to your research question. This shows that you have explored the relevant material and are thorough in your research. Please note that “thorough research” does not involve including everything you find; rather, it involves determining what research is relevant to your thesis and what is not. Third, the Literature Review allows you to illustrate how your research builds upon and contributes to the existing body of knowledge. For this paper, your Literature Review should follow the recommendation established by the University of Toronto: www.utoronto.ca/writing/litrev.html (Links to an external site.) Be organized around and related directly to the Thesis Question and Thesis Statement you are developing. Synthesize relevant results into a summary. Identify areas of controversy in the literature. Your assignment this week in this Literature Review is to review the key debates and themes as they relate to your Thesis Question and Statement. There are any number of ways to do this. You can discuss the articles, synthesizing their arguments according to their chronological order, or according to their themes, or according to their agreement on specific arguments or points, etc. The organization is left to you. Acceptable is any discussion that covers the main range of the scholarly literature presently existing on your thesis. In addition to the discussion, you are to develop a Literature Review Table similar to the one provided by Guillen (pp.242-243 – see it here above, or in Class Resources), in which you articulate the debates and identify where specific scholars stand on the issues in a comparative framework. Your Literature Review should be 6-8 double-spaced pages long (text) and include 6-8 scholarly sources in its discussion. It should also include the aforementioned Literature Review Table and a correctly formatted Bibliography. Researching tips: I know that many of you are saying that is difficult to cover much scholarly literature in such a short period of time, much less in a critical or analytical way. Well…you are right. So here are a few time-honored short cuts to consider: Using critical book reviews. Book reviews are excellent at summarizing and critiquing books. You can get an idea of what the book is about without actually reading it completely. However, if you get an idea or a theme from the book review, it is important to cite the book review. There is nothing wrong with saying “Smith (2004:22-25) said Guillen (2001)….” Using library catalogs and abstracts. Books in a library are often listed with summaries as well as a table of contents. The catalogs also categorize a topic into subtopics. One suggestion is to use Washington University’s catalog to get started. http://spokane.wustl.edu/screens/opacmenu.html (Links to an external site.) Take a look for yourself. Type in your research topic or thesis subject and see what comes up. The same holds for many journals. If the full text is not available, the abstract is usually sufficient to determine whether it is relevant (what the thesis and conclusions of the article are). Obviously you cannot copy the abstract, but it is a useful tool in summarizing someone’s work and comparing it to the work of others.
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