As explained before in the syllabus as well, learning how to design a research and writing a research proposal, which could be described as skeleton of a research, will be one of the major learning outcomes of this course. Therefore, you are required to write a research proposal and submit it by the end of the semester. From now on, the research proposal (final paper) will be prepared step by step throughout this summer semester. We are now starting first with the “Literature Review” part of your research proposal. For this assignment, please read all the instructions below carefully.
First, you are expected to have decided your research topic. If you have not decided yet, you need to do so urgently in order to start this first assignment.
Now that you know your research topic, you are ready to conduct a literature review (i.e. statement of past work) on this topic. A good literature review is an essential part of the problem formulation stage in a sociological research. Conducting a literature review will: a) help you become familiar with a body of knowledge on the topic you are interested in, b) Show you the path of prior research, c) Help you integrate and summarize what is known in the area of your interest, and, d) help you learn from others and stimulate your ideas.
Here are the first steps to start your literature review:
– First, find your sources: For your literature review assignment, you are required to find at least 3 academic sources (the more sources the better). These academic sources can include articles published in academic journals, books, book chapters, research reports etc. In addition, you can use non-academic sources which might include a newspaper article, documentary, movie, an artistic piece etc. Please remember that 3 academic sources are required, and non-academic sources are optional (non-academic sources are not a substitute to academic sources, but they can be used as additional sources). You can use online library data bases to access academic sources such as JStor, Ebscohost, Google Scholar etc (Wikipedia is not considered an academic source).
– Second, read your sources: After you find your sources, you are expected to read them. Make sure to take notes while reading as they will help you with the following steps.
– Third, start writing your literature review: Writing your literature review involves two main elements: summary & critical reading of your sources. That is, first, summarize the findings, arguments, research models etc. of these sources. Second, remember that literature review is not simply a summary, but it is a critical reading of your sources. That means, in addition to providing a summary of the readings, you are also expected to demonstrate your critical reflections on the readings, synthesize and create a dialogue/connection among them, identify their arguments, present their contributions and offer a critical evaluation. For this purpose, while writing your literature review, you are expected to provide answers to the questions below:
– What have others said about this topic?
– What research has been done previously?
– What theories address it and what do they say?
– Are past findings consistent or do they contradict each other?
– Are there any flaws in the body of existing literature that your research can remedy?
– How do you create a bridge between the past work and your own research project? How do you link those past work to the research project you have in mind?
– What are your critical reflections on this literature review? You are supposed to create a critical argument on what you have read.
– What is it that you are going to study uniquely? Compared to the past work, is yours a replication or a new approach, or on an attack on the limitations of previous studies, or what? It is here that you need to explain clearly why it is important to do further research on this problem.
– What is your theoretical standpoint?
Note 1: You do not need to answer these questions in a Q&A format; instead, just make sure that your paper (in an essay format) provides answers to these questions.
Note 2: This literature review assignment is expected to be around 5 pages (double space), including a bibliography –slightly more or less number of pages are acceptable as well.
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