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Click on the image below to find a sample literature review written in APA style.In some browsers, you may need to download or save this file to be able to utilize all of its functionality.
A literature review may consist of simply a summary of key sources, but in the social sciences, a literature review usually has an organizational pattern and combines both summary and synthesis, often within specific conceptual categories.
A summary is a recap of the important information of the source, but a synthesis is a re-organization, or a reshuffling, of that information in a way that informs how you are planning to investigate a research problem.
Given the value-laden nature of some social science research [e.g., educational reform; immigration control], argumentative approaches to analyzing the literature can be a legitimate and important form of discourse.
However, note that they can also introduce problems of bias when they are used to make summary claims of the sort found in systematic reviews [see below].
By the time you complete your literature review you should have written an essay that demonstrates that you: Thus, a literature review synthesizes your research into an explanation of what is known and what is not known on your topic.
If the topic is one from which you want to embark on a major research project, doing a literature review will save you time and help you figure out where you might focus your attention so you don’t duplicate research that has already been done.In composing a literature review, it is important to note that it is often this third layer of knowledge that is cited as "true" even though it often has only a loose relationship to the primary studies and secondary literature reviews.Given this, while literature reviews are designed to provide an overview and synthesis of pertinent sources you have explored, there are a number of approaches you could adopt depending upon the type of analysis underpinning your study.A well-done integrative review meets the same standards as primary research in regard to clarity, rigor, and replication.This is the most common form of review in the social sciences.Your job is to discover the research that has been done, the major perspectives, and the significant thinkers and writers (experts) who have published on the topic you’re interested in.In other words, it’s a survey of what has been written and argued about your topic.The analytical features of a literature review might: It is important to think of knowledge in a given field as consisting of three layers.First, there are the primary studies that researchers conduct and publish.Integrative Review Considered a form of research that reviews, critiques, and synthesizes representative literature on a topic in an integrated way such that new frameworks and perspectives on the topic are generated.The body of literature includes all studies that address related or identical hypotheses or research problems.