The primary purpose of a review of literature is to provide a rationale
for the proposed research question(s) and/or hypothesis(ses). A review of
literature should represent a synthesis of existing theory and research
literature that argues for the research question(s) and/or hypothesis(ses).
The process of constructing a literature review acquaints the researcher
with the studies already done in a particular area and allows the researcher
to build/extend the existing knowledge. The key to writing a good literature
review is synthesis. The following questions may help to guide your
reading and paper organization processes:
1. Which research articles come to similar conclusions?
2. Which research articles disagree with one another or have
3. Are certain theories consistently used to frame studies on the topic?
4. How does your thinking about the topic relate to, differ from, and/or
add to the previous literature?
1. Identify a topic for research that focuses on communication behavior
(i.e., verbal and/or nonverbal messages in some capacity). Identify a
question that you have about the particular communication
phenomena. (You may have a question in mind OR you may find a
question by examining the literature and identifying gaps.) Please
make sure that your topic is in fact appropriate to the Communication
2. Read relevant primary sources on the key topic and related issues.
Make notes as you go that identify key ideas, variables, and
definitions. Avoid using direct quotations–paraphrase ideas from
others. You will need to read more material than you will end up
citing in your paper in order to find useful and topic-relevant sources.
You should have 10 sources referenced and cited in your final draft of
the paper. (Use at least 7 communication journals as noted in
Chapter three of your textbook.) You will be penalized if you do not
have the appropriate number of references and they do not meet the
requirements. The journals should all be peer reviewed.
Additionally, please make sure that you are submitting original work.
Submitting work that has been submitted for another class is
3. Based upon the literature you have read and your own perspective on
the topic, create an outline to organize the ideas for your paper.
4. Write the paper. Components of the paper include the following:
a. Title page (this should fit the APA components of a title page)
b. Introduction (1-2 pages). You should begin the introduction
with an attention getter- something that draws the reader in and
makes them want to read more. This should be something
from the literature and not a hypothetical or antecdotal story.
Throughout the entire literature review you will avoid first and
second person language. This includes the introduction section.
Additionally, you need a research rationale. The function of a
research rationale is to justify further examination of the topic.
Why is it important to communication research? Make sure that
you justify examining the topic further. The paragraph where
you provide your research rationale will conclude with your
thesis statement. Your thesis statement will be the general
point or purpose of your paper. Please start the sentence with,
‘the purpose of this paper is to…’. This will help us identify your
thesis statement. The thesis statement should be a reflection
of your hypothesis/research question. This will help you to
focus your paper on providing evidence to support your
hypothesis/research question. Finally, you should end your
introduction with a preview statement. This preview will inform
readers of the areas of literature that you will be discussing in
c. Review of current literature on topic that begins generally (often
with a theory or theoretical perspective) and gradually becomes
more and more specific until you propose your specific H’s
and/or RQ’s. (approximately 6-8pages) You will incorporate all
relevant research into the discussion of your topic. Remember
that this should serve as an argument supporting your
hypothesis/research question. You will need to utilize previous
research findings in order to support the hypothesis that you
are proposing. Please do not use arguments that do not deal
directly with your hypothesis/literature review. Also, make sure
that the literature that you use is appropriate and complete
enough to make your argument. (At least 10 sources from peer-
reviewed journals, 7 from communication journals)
The literature review should begin by conceptually
defining each of the concepts that you are interested in. You will
give a broad conceptual definition so that the reader
understands the focus of your paper (if you have ever taken a
conflict class, you know that a multitude of definitions exist for
this concept, it is important to tell your reader how you are
defining conflict). Each paragraph of the literature review should
have a topic sentence. Then, the body of the paragraph should
work on supporting the topic sentence. All of your topic
sentences should work together to support your central thesis.
When you are constructing your outline, keep in mind what
main arguments you need to make in order to support your
Please, do not provide a study-by-study summary of the
literature. This paper should go beyond an annotated
bibliography. The purpose of a focused literature review is to
synthesize what scholars know about your topic, thus you
should have multiple citations per paragraph and oftentimes per
sentence. All constructs, variables, and theory components (if
you use theory in your paper) that are relevant to your study
should be defined and explained using scholarly sources (e.g.,
integrative conflict strategies are defined as….). When
completed, your literature review should resemble the content
and structure of published journal articles. This means that you
should cite scholarly sources whenever an idea is not your own.
d. Propose research questions and/or hypotheses that emerge
logically and clearly from your literature review. You should
present your hypothesis/research question at the end of the
literature review. You will often times have a lead in paragraph
that ties the research together and makes a final argument for
your hypothesis/research questions. Occasionally, you will
present your hypothesis/research question in a different section
of the paper. If you feel that it fits better in the middle, you can
put it there. Most of the time, however, they come at the end.
Additionally, you need to have at least one hypothesis or
research question but can have more than that. These should
be set aside as per APA format. You will be graded on the
e. Your reference page. This needs to be in APA format and
should contain everything that you reference in the paper.
5. Submit your paper online via safe assignment by midnight on the
due date. No late assignments will be accepted.
6. A few of my pet peeves. First, don’t use first or second person
language in the paper. It should maintain a professional tone and this
is an easy way to do it. Second, don’t use hypothetical situations to
illustrate a point. I don’t want to read about a case study as this is not
the point of the assignment. Third, check your references! Make
sure that you have the required amount and that they are peer-
reviewed journals. They should be cited in your paper and in the
reference page. Fourth, don’t plagiarize. If you didn’t think of the
idea, cite the person who did. This does not just apply to direct
quotations. Also, do not turn in work that you have done for another
class, this is self-plagiarism. Fifth, don’t turn it in late. If you do, you
will get a zero.