Teachers often assign research papers to students, especially literature reviews. Literature reviews may be part of a larger research paper or stand alone on their own. Since conducting original research and writing a paper about it takes considerable time, instructors often require students prepare papers such as compare and contrast, critical essays or literature reviews instead.
What Is a Literature Review?
Although a literature review is considered a summary of previous research, it is more than that. You must select sources that move the research forward. Then, you should suggest ways other researchers can move the subject further still. For example, if you are preparing a literature review for your sociology class, you may choose a topic such as bullying and social media or the gender wage gap.
Researching Your Topic
As you research those topics, check the dates of the articles, websites and books you’re reading. You want the most current information whenever possible. However, you may want to start by referencing studies from several years back and then finding newer sources. This shows how the research and understanding has changed over time.
Gaining understanding of how bullying and social media develops over time strengthens your argument. After you find your sources and develop your thesis, you can conclude your school paper by suggesting new areas of research.
If you include a literature review as part of a larger research paper, that section appears after the introduction. The research sources in the literature review section back up your thesis statement. They should be relevant to the arguments you present in the rest of your school research paper.
Organizing Your Literature Review
An APA style paper is organized in the author-date style. This means you cite the author’s name and year of publication within the text with an in-text citation. You also include the page number, if appropriate. You then include the full information of that source in a reference list at the end of your paper. As a reference list contains only those sources you used within the text of your paper, every in-text citation must match with a reference list entry.
APA Literature Review Example