Your literature review will be 5-6 pages in length. Earlier in the semester you created an annotated bibliography. Now, use those 6 sources to generate a review of the literature. Your literature review should be broken up by theme. You should cover 2 to 3 themes. Use a subheading for each theme.
Your literature is NOT a summary of each of the 6 articles. Rather, you are synthesizing the literature across themes.
Cite all your sources using ASA format with in-text citations in your paper, and a properly formatted reference list at the end of the paper.
For this assignment you will prepare a literature review for your Research Proposal. Be sure to make revisions and include any feedback from your literature review assignment into your final research proposal you turn in at the end of the semester.
In-depth knowledge of the field you wish to study is a pre-requisite for credible research. The literature review assignment is your chance to show that you are familiar with the literature pertinent to your general topic of research, as well as to your more specific research question. A well-written literature review will help you with your Research Proposal. For example, a good literature review helps you to:
Assess whether policies or tools you could recommend will achieve specific outcomes.
For example, in the field of housing, scholars/researchers may be asked to evaluate the potential effectiveness of a new policy under consideration, and one extremely useful technique for doing so is to review existing research. When decision makers consider adopting a new policy approach to a problem, one of the first questions they ask is: Will it work? A literature review is a method to see how past research can inform your answer to that question. Imagine that the Sunny Shores Village planning staff wants to require all new commercial buildings to include rooftop solar panels as a strategy to reduce carbon emissions. The Sunny Shores Village Council asks you to find out (1) how much this policy will actually reduce emissions, (2) if there are other positive or negative environmental impacts, and (3) what the economic impact to building owners and tenants would be over a building’s lifetime. Various methods may help you to answer these questions, but one of the best can be a literature review.
Justify the value of your general research topic and/or specific research question.
For many studies, a literature review provides evidence that a particular issue is an important current problem for communities (and thus worthwhile to study further). The literature review is also often the best way to demonstrate that there is a gap in knowledge about an issue, a gap your study can help to fill.
Assess whether certain methods will be useful to your project and/or how best to implement particular methods.
A literature review can show you what methods other researchers have used to answer questions similar to yours, as well as best practices in how to implement those methods. For example, if you want to assess public opinion on a particular topic, you may learn whether scholars looking at public opinion on similar topics have found it most useful to rely on surveys, interviews, or analysis of media coverage.
In order to achieve these goals for this assignment, you will need to review a wide variety of literature on a small set of themes related to the larger research question. In reading and writing about each theme, you should aim to (1) evaluate whether each study uses sound methods, (2) evaluate how transferable the results are to your own project, (3) synthesize the lessons that one can learn by looking at the whole body of literature on each topic, and (4) discuss the relevance and/or importance of the theme in relationship to your other themes.
What documents to include—and not to include—in the literature review
You may be reading many documents while thinking about, researching, and writing your Research Proposal, but not all documents should be part of this literature review assignment. Keep in mind that for this assignment you are only reviewing those documents—or those parts of larger documents—that help you to write about the objectives described above. The literature review should evaluate items that are themselves analytical and research-oriented in nature. Many of these items will be academic or professional pieces that report on a particular research project completed on your topic; others might be published literature reviews prepared on your topic.
One type of document you should not include in the literature review is “primary documents” that you intend to analyze as part of your work. For example, you would not include comments about the Association of Bay Area Government’s Regional Housing Need Plan in your literature review. (However, you might include a review of a journal article that critically evaluates affordable housing mandates of several cities). You also would not include in your literature review other city documents like the housing element of a general plan, even though these may be critical to your Research Proposal. Newspaper and magazine articles are not to be used in the literature review.
The format for the literature review
You should organize the literature review into sections using the following headings shown in bold. The total length of your literature will be about 5-6 pages. Use 12 point font, double spaced, one inch margins for your paper. Include the bibliography at the end of the literature (without annotation). Ensure you follow ASA format guidelines. Use in-text citations and not footnotes or endnotes.
Section 1: Introduction
In a paragraph or two, describe the aim of the literature review. This section should also explain for readers how the rest of the literature review is organized; that is, give your readers a short “road map” as to how you have organized the entire paper.
Section 2: Main Themes
This section, the bulk of the text, will evaluate and synthesize what you learned from the literature on three or four major themes in your area of study. The text must incorporate discussion of at least 6 sources being articles from peer-reviewed journals, books, academic reports.
To help you identify useful themes, prepare for each a question that will encapsulate what you want to learn about that theme. Here are samples of the types of questions that would work well for the assignment: • Why are community residents resistant to low-income housing developments? • How do urban growth boundaries impact housing prices? • What design features make low-income housing blend into nearby market rate housing? • What programs have the best success for mainstreaming homeless residents?
Recall that the point of this section is to “evaluate and synthesize” the literature you read on each theme, so that you can provide a detailed and nuanced answer to the question you pose about the theme. What is good evaluation and synthesis? At a minimum, for each theme you should describe the similarities and differences between the findings of the studies, discuss methodological or other issues that may explain differences among the studies’ findings, and summarize the key conclusions you draw from reviewing all the studies on each theme. Also, it is important to discuss whether you think the overall findings from the studies are likely to apply to other places or groups of people (i.e., are the findings “generalizable”?).
Section 3: Conclusion
This section will recapitulate the important findings of the literature in a few paragraphs or a page and also discuss how your project will contribute to the current bodies of literature on your topic.
Section 4: Bibliography
The bibliography should include a bibliography of all sources, following ASA citation style guidelines.
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