Child Development 290 (01)
Seminar in Culminating Experience
Fall, 2013 - Sheri Hembree, Ph.D.

 

Literature Review and Methodological Overview

The final project for the class is a comprehensive literature review and methodological overview that will serve as the basis for the thesis/project. A draft of the literature review is due for instructor review earlier in the semester with the final draft due at the last class session. This literature review and methodological overview will become Ch. 2 and Ch 3 of the thesis/project during CHDV 504.

I. Literature Review

A literature review is a document that reviews, synthesizes, and evaluates important literature on your topic of study. It is used to make a "case" for your research question or project idea. A version of this literature review will show up later as chapter 2 of your thesis or project. 

There are not many differences between a literature review for a thesis or a project. Both include a theoretical and empirical review of the topic area. Both use the literature to support the significance of the topic or problem. Both make an argument for the need for either the dissemination of research (project) or the creation of additional knowledge (thesis). 

One of your readings directly addresses the literature review. Additionally, below are a couple of good handouts:

CHDV 242 Literature Review Handout

CHDV 250 Proposal Handout

THE LITERATURE REVIEW: A FEW TIPS ON CONDUCTING IT

UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN - HOW TO WRITE A LITERATURE REVIEW

Some additional things to remember:

1) The biggest challenge in writing a literature review is creating its structure. In reading the research on your topic, group together articles around a theme or idea and use them in the paper to support that idea. Headings and subheadings can help to organize your paper.

2) Generally speaking, it is best to start out general and become more specific (no pun intended). If your review will include theory and research on a topic, begin by discussing theory, then discuss the research.

3) You should work to connect and integrate the articles you review THROUGHOUT your paper, as well as in your conclusion. This is often done when introducing a new study, through the use of transition sentences/clauses.  Think about how each article or study relates to everything else and make that connection explicit to the reader.

4) Don’t forget to cite authors/articles, when appropriate. When you make a point, be sure to back it up either with a logical argument or empirical evidence. 

5) Your conclusion should include a summary, integration, and general evaluation of the research you present. Your conclusions should lead to a research question or to the need for the development of your project materials. You might also want to draw conclusions as you go, say at the end of a long section. Conclusions should be based on the research you present in the paper. Do not draw conclusions that have no basis in that research.

6) Some mechanics:

  • Page numbers and headers at top right hand corner; adhere to APA style and format for the thesis.

  • Be sure to proofread your paper thoroughly and revise and rewrite. One draft will not likely pass muster. Don’t rely solely on my (or a peer's) edits/feedback; read and re-read and edit the paper yourself each time you re-work your paper.

  • Remember that a literature review is a relatively formal piece of writing. Avoid slang and other informal forms like colloquialisms or contractions, and stay away from personal opinions. Avoid using a narrative style: this work is not a diary entry or a story.. 

7) Look for good examples of literature reviews and introduction sections in the literature on your topic. Note what authors do in presenting the literature in your area. Ask your sponsor to refer you to previous theses on the topic as examples.

 

II. Methodological/Analytical Overview

The Methodological/Analytical Overview provides information about how you will conduct your study (thesis) or how you will go about creating project material . It is helpful to talk with your sponsor or to me about some of these issues. A version of this document will likely become Chapter 3 of your thesis/project, but you should consider that your method will change at least somewhat as you work more closely with your sponsor in CHDV 504. 

The overview should include the following information:

For a Thesis:

1) Design

What is your research question? Is your thesis “qualitative" or “quantitative" in design? If it is qualitative/descriptive, what are you hoping to describe and understand?. If it is quantitative, what relationships between variables are you hoping to examine?

Does your research have an “applied” focus or is it  “basic" research?

2) Data Collection/Analysis

Describe your proposed sample and how you will go about recruiting this sample.

If you will conduct a quantitative study then describe each of the constructs you will have to measure. How will you gather data: Survey methodology? Experiment? Existing data set (…existing or secondary data)? Observations? If you have already selected  questionnaires or other measures, attach them, otherwise describe how you will go about finding these measures. Are there any complications that you can anticipate (e.g. you might need to “design and create a questionnaire from scratch”)? What will you do with your data once you have obtained it? What are some possible results that will address your question?

If you are doing a qualitative study, describe the process or condition you are hoping to examine. What methodology will you employ to gather data (be specific)? Interviews? Observations? Content analysis? Will you use videotape or note taking? What will your setting look like? What form will your data take and what will be your first steps in data analysis?

3) Proposed Time-Line

Provide a proposed time-table or schedule of what you will do over the next few months. When will you complete all of the necessary tasks? How long will each task take you? When will you recruit your sample? When will collect your observations? When will you do your data analysis? When will you write up your results and discussion? Remember that your sponsor and second reader may not be available during summer months - and be sure to consider personal and professional obligations in creating a realistic schedule for yourself.

 

For a Project:

1) Problem

What practical problem do you hope to address with your project? Who is the target audience for your project and why? What kinds of materials do you wish to develop to address the problem.

2) Project development

Describe how you will identify and reach your target audience. 

Describe the process you will undertake to develop research-based materials. How will you use empirical literature to develop your materials? Will you use empirical data to create your materials (e.g., needs assessment or interviews with professionals)? Consultations with experts? What other sources for ideas will you consult? How will you ensure that your project is empirically-based? Are there any complications that you can anticipate (e.g. you might need to pretest your materials)?

3) Project Implementation and/or evaluation

How will you disseminate the project materials and how will you evaluate the effectiveness of your project?

4) Proposed Time-Line

Provide a proposed time-table or schedule of what you will do over the next few months. When will you complete all of the necessary tasks? How long will each task take you? When will you create your materials? When will you disseminate your materials? When will you evaluate your project? When will you write up your conclusions/discussion? Remember that your sponsor and second reader may not be available during summer months - and be sure to consider personal and professional obligations in creating a realistic schedule for yourself.

 

 

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Send problems, comments or suggestions to: hembrees@csus.edu. Updated: August 20, 2013