Literature Review Assignment 09 Fall, 106

Xianfeng Mou 09 Fall 10600-394

Literature Review Assignment: Investigating Your Culture


Now that you have decided your research topic and laid down your research plan in your Personal Narrative, it is high time you go and find out what other researchers have found out about your topic for the Literature Review project by conducting archival research.

Remember what we have talked about on how to enter the conversation? The process of doing archival research is the process for you to find out an opening in the ongoing intellectual conversation others have carried out on your topic.

This project also aims to show you how to build on previously accumulated knowledge. We move forward by standing on the shoulders of others that came before us. It will also enable you to see where you can make your special contribution to the culture.

This project will also fulfill a third function. It will help some of you to narrow down your topic to a manageable scope, to find your special research direction, if you haven’t accomplished that goal during the Personal Narrative project.

What You Will Do

You will learn or refresh such research skills as conducting library research, locating printed and electronic sources from academic databases, evaluating those sources, and finally summarizing the selected sources for your research. You will also be required to cite sources according to academic conventions.

The review of literature presents a set of summaries in essay format for two purposes. It forces you to examine and to show how each source addresses your research problem. (Note: Do not simply list summaries of the sources without relating each source to your thesis. In other words, please avoid using “my first source… my second source… my third source…”). It also organizes and classifies the sources in a logical manner for the reader.

General requirement

You will look for three pieces of publicly published materials useful to your research to summarize. The published material may come from peer-viewed journals, magazines, newspapers, or from websites. Locate three publications most helpful for your research project. You may have to locate more than three and select the best ones.

When you find sources containing statistics relevant to your topic, it is a good idea to keep them, for they might be useful when you come to the Argumentative Essay assignment.

Important Details within the general requirement

• Each of the publications you use should run at least 2,000 words. Please hand in copies of the publications with your first draft. Past experience tells me that Internet sources, until they are solid, are not hugely useful. Therefore, try not to rely heavily on sources from the Internet.

• You should always use up-to-date research information. Sources that are more than 20 years old cannot be selected. For some of your topics, you might find it necessary to select information from the current year.

One of the three publications you choose must be a scholarly source.

• Your paper should be three and half pages long. Do not exceed four and half pages.

Specific requirements

This assignment has two main parts:

1. A straightforward summary of each of the three documents, and

2. A logical framework linking all the summaries together.

The framework is a normal introductory paragraph and a concluding paragraph in which you briefly discuss the three documents together, perhaps linking the most important or interesting information you obtain from your three sources.

You should decide which document you will summarize first, second, and third and provide some logical link between them—for example, mentioning that the next summary contains a different type of information from the last, or this one elaborates on the information from the last, or the text approaches the topic from a different perspective, or it narrows down the topic and focuses only on one aspect. In brief, the logical link is the relationship you have detected that exists among the three sources.

Remember to include a thesis statement in the introduction that clarifies what the point of this paper is with your three summaries.

Elements of the Literature Review assignment

1. Title

2. An introduction (including a thesis statement)

3. Summaries of the three sources logically linked together

4. A concluding paragraph discussing how your sources fit in with each other, and how they each contribute to your research.

5. Citations of the three sources

♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫ ♫

*Adapted from

Leki, I. (1998). Academic writing: Exploring processes and strategies, Second edition. New

York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Materials provided by Professor Tony Silva, and with materials from

Lester, James D., and James Lester, Jr. Writing Research Papers: A Complete Guide. Tenth Edition New

York: Addison-Wesley Educational Publishers Inc., 2002. 120

For Further reference, such as an example, consult

Lester, James D., and James Lester, Jr. Writing Research Papers: A Complete Guide. Tenth Edition New

York: Addison-Wesley Educational Publishers Inc., 2002. 111, 120-23.

HSSE library in a long shot

HSSE library in a long shot

Steps that take you to the research tutorials developed by Purdue librarians.

  1. Go to purdue mainpage:
  2. On lower right corner, click “writing lab” link
  3. You are directed to the new website of Purdue online writing lab, shortened for OWL
  4. In owl website, in the search box, type in “research,”
  5. Then on the right bars, find the link “Research and Citation”
  6. Under it, click the link called “Database Research Tutorials from the Purdue Library”
  7. On the next page, click the link “Tutorials for Biology Students Searching the Scientific Literature.”
  8. This will take you to the tutorials hosted and developed by the library.
  9. For searches, No. 3, 4, and 5 are the most useful. You will be able to know how to navigate Purdue’s libraries, databases, and find exactly the information you need using the least amount of time.
  10. No. 6 and 7 are for evaluating sources. There is a secret at end the end of No. 7. But right now you do not need to know the secret.
  11. These files are multimedia files, and they contain interactive questions. Besides the fact that the tutorials use a biological database as an example, all the steps apply to our current research.

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