Example of Review of the Literature for RESEARCH papers

At the risk of getting multiple versions of what follows, I am posting ONE approach to the Review of the Literature to provide an example of how a review of the literature for a short (3,000-5,000) academic research paper should be done. So PLEASE do not use this as “boilerplate” copy… but rather as an illustration on how to group your sources — PLEASE note that in APA we use the PAST TENSE — wrote, discussed, explored:

In reviewing source material for this paper, several books and articles concerning the yoyo were helpful. Smith (2010), Jones (2011), and Davidson (2011) provided in depth reports on the introduction of the yoyo as a form of popular entertainment as well as analysis of the impact of this type of toy on society. Gustin (2011), and Huang (2011) provided analysis on the role that special string tricks played in creating competition in both formal and informal settings.

For background on toy technologies, the following sources were invaluable: Lévy (1999) discussed the emergence of manufactured toys, such as the yoyo and the Red Ryder Carbine Action 200-shot Range Model air rifle, as tools in urban social development. Shirky (2010) looked at the impact of a range of toys in terms of whether or not one could injure one’s eye with any of them.

To understand the human/technology interaction, this case study relied on theorists and technology critics such as Postman (1985, 1993), Turkle (2010), and Carr (2014).

Note that full reference citations are NOT used… and, unless there is no author or you are referring to a specific work so as to distinguish it from another work by the same author, neither is the title used.

Because this is a relatively short paper, there should be only three — perhaps four — paragraphs in your Review of the Literature.

If your entire paper was a meal it would be like this:

  • Introduction = Appetizer
  • Review of the Literature and Background = Soup/Salad course
  • Findings = Main course… meat, starch, veg
  • Conclusion = Dessert
  • References = Coffee/Tea

(Can you tell that I had to fast all day when I first wrote this?)


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