The literature review is your opportunity to convince a larger academic audience that your own research project will contribute something new to an existing body of research. Put another way, your lit review reveals where you will contribute to existing theory. It carves a path for you as a scholar into an existing academic conversation/debate.  To do this, you must demonstrate how your research question is derived from previous peer-reviewed work.  You must also explicitly identify gaps that your work will fill. 

Furthermore, the process of conducting a literature review will help you assess how others before you have studied your particular research question/changes in your dependent variable.  It will give you ideas on how to go about constructing and designing your own project… what to embrace and what to avoid when it comes to research design. 


You must produce a 14–16-page literature review, based upon your dependent variable/research question from Week Two and Week Four.  The lit review must be grounded in prominent peer-reviewed work on your particular dependent variable/research question.  The paper must illustrate why your research question is meaningful and theoretically significant.  To do this, you must provide reader with a strong sense of the state of the established literature in their chosen sub-field and must identify areas where they can make a substantial contribution to existing theory and scholarly discourse.

Start by briefly introducing your topic, providing your research question, and specifying your dependent variable.  This should all be accomplished on page one of your lit review.  Then, identify the peer-reviewed sources which represent the most prominent work done to date on your particular question.  Describe key information from your reviewed sources in a manner that clearly connects to your specific research problem and helps you conceptualize how you will eventually study/tackle your problem.  Steer away from describing this relevancy in general terms.  Instead, describe the specific contribution the author(s) makes to ongoing scholarly conversations.  Speaking of conversations, a good literature review will put scholars into discussion with one another.  Use these conversations to illuminate how the key findings, research designs/methods and strengths/weaknesses of arguments and research approaches. 

Finally, a good literature review will move seamlessly from this in-depth discussion of specific contributions/gaps up to the macro level, where the reader is provided with a sense of key advancements/setbacks and themes running throughout an entire body of literature.  It takes practice and skill to effortlessly move your reader from specific contributions to a broad assessment of the state of an entire body of literature.  But that is your goal. 

Additional Requirements: 

  • The literature review should consist of 14-16 pages, not counting any title page, tables or graphs, or references/works cited.
    • The literature review should be in current Turabian format. 
    • The literature review must include citations from at least 25 sources. 
    • Acceptable sources include peer-reviewed journal articles, books from academic presses, and/or policy research papers published by reputable think tanks.  Opinion pieces, news sources, and other websites are not acceptable peer-reviewed sources.  

Note: Your assignment will be checked for originality via the Turnitin plagiarism tool.

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