Length, etc: word count will vary, but these usually end up being around 1000-1200 words (the Literature Review section will make up about half of your final Research Paper, which will be at least 2000 words); MLA format, 12-point, Times New Roman font, double spaced. You will use 8 sources here, though more is always fine, relying on your Annotated Bibliography for most of this content, and/or any other sources you’ve found since then. *see attached handout for a student example with my explanatory notes for adapting your Annotated Bibliography into your Literature Review Assignment Description and Directions: A Literature Review is a survey of relevant sources on a particular topic for a Research Paper. It gives an overview of the general, ongoing conversation about that particular topic. It does this by summarizing, quoting, and synthesizing sources.
A Literature Review does not contain any of your opinions/ideas; rather, a Literature Review gives a survey or overview of other people’s opinions/ideas, as they appear in sources—articles, books, newspapers, magazines, etc.—that you have found in your research. If you followed directions correctly for your Annotated Bibliography, then most of the content in your Literature Review will be copied and pasted from your Annotated Bibliography (summaries and whichever quotes you decide to use); and, of course, you will copy/paste the MLA citation for each source and include it in your final Research Paper’s Works Cited page. [Side note: in your final Research Paper, your Literature Review section will appear immediately after your Introduction/Thesis Statement section (see directions for Research Paper in “Assignments/Assessments” tab, to see what I mean).] BEFORE YOU BEGIN: First, check your Turnitin score for the Annotated Bibliography (click on the percentage) and make sure you don’t have entire sentences or long phrases of your SUMMARIES highlighted, which means it’s plagiarized. IF SO, THEN CHANGE THESE TO YOUR OWN WORDS. Then, take a look at your Annotated Bibliography and try to put those 8 sources into different groups (at least 2) in which the arguments seem either closely related or arguing opposite things. In other words, look for those sources that are either directly responding to each other, or on very closely related, specific topics within that larger conversation. This will help you determine the order in which you discuss your sources. For example, if your topic is a debate that has two main sides, you could discuss all the sources for one side first, then all the sources for the other side. Or you could go back and forth, if you decide that could work. (It all depends on the content of the specific sources you have found.) Follow this paragraph structure: First Paragraph: introduce your literature review in a very brief paragraph (about 4-5 sentences) about the general scope and substance of the current, ongoing conversation about your research topic, based on the sources you’ve found. This is the same thing you did in the second paragraph of Position Paper 5: Research Question and Prospectus (if you followed the directions for that assignment correctly), so follow the same format for this brief paragraph, but be sure to update it, if necessary, according to what you’ve found in your research since then, or if you’ve changed your topic since then. Based on the sources you’ve found, what are the main approaches or contexts in which your topic is being discussed, and/or what are main areas of interest/focus in the sources you’ve found ? (Say something like this: Much of the current research on ____________ is concerned with ____________. Some focus on/argue that _____________, while others focus on/argue that _____________. Or your could say it like this: Most of the current research on __________ discusses it within the context of _____________. Others, however, have taken a slightly different approach, focusing on __________________.) This initial paragraph also gives the reader an idea of what to expect in the paragraphs after it, how they are organized, in what order they appear, etc. Paragraphs after that: begin each of these paragraphs with a sentence that identifies the general topic/subject of the paragraph (these are called topic sentences)–again, this is based on the content of the source (or sources) you will summarize and quote in that paragraph. You may choose to focus on one source per paragraph, or two sources paragraphs, depending on how much attention you feel each source deserves. Then, when you begin discussing each source, be sure to first identify the title, author’s full name, and topic of the source (for example, you should say something like this: In “[source’s full title],” [author’s first and last name] discusses/focuses on/etc/ [general topic/subject of source].) Then, perhaps using one of the templates for CAPTURING AUTHORIAL ACTIONS or INTRODUCING QUOTATIONS from the attached handout (ENC 1101 paper-sentence templates), set up the quote with something like this: According to [author’s last name],….but don’t say the same thing every single time before quoting; change it up so you don’t sound repetitive (see that handout for various template options). Make sure the quote you include is no more than 4 lines, and make sure it is argumentative, or opinion-driven. And don’t forget to include an in-text citation for each quote–author’s last name and page number in parenthesis; if there is no page number for the source, just include author’s last name in parenthesis; if there is no author (sometimes sources from Gale don’t list a specific author), then put the title of the source. After you’ve quoted a relevant, argumentative quote, then include a transition statement before you begin discussing the next source. A transition statement is a sentence that connects (or transitions) the information/content of one source to the information/content of the next source. Sometimes, when you transition to source that agrees or disagrees with the source you just discussed, a transition statement is as simple as saying “Similarly, others argue that ________”—or else “Others argue the opposite, claiming that _________.
Other times, however, a transition statement will need to let the reader know you are making a slight change of topic or focus. In that case, you might say something like this: While above-mentioned sources focus on __________, other writers take a slightly different approach, focusing on _________. You will have to decide what works best for you, based on the content of the sources you’ve found in your research. You don’t need a formal conclusion for your Literature Review. Just end it whenever you finish quoting/discussing the last source you’re using.
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