Writing Literature Reviews: A Guide for Students of the Social and Behavioral Sciences 6th Edition
This book provides students with practical guidelines for the complex process of writing literature reviews in the social and behavioral sciences. The primary focus is on reviewing original research published in academic journals and on its relationship to theoretical literature. However, most of the guidelines presented here can also be applied to reviews of other kinds of source materials.
Audience for This Book
This book was written for students required to write literature reviews as term papers in content-area classes in the social and behavioral sciences. Often, their previous training has not prepared them to search databases for reports of original research and related theoretical literature, analyze these particular types of literature, and synthesize them into a cohesive narrative. Instead, students are often taught how to use secondary sources such as encyclopedias, reports in the mass media, and books that synthesize the work of others. In addition, they are usually not taught the conventions for writing papers in the social and behavioral sciences. This book is designed to fill this gap by giving students detailed, step-by-step guidance on how to write comprehensive reviews of primary source materials.
Students beginning to work on their theses and dissertations will also benefit from this book if they have not previously received comprehensive instruction on how to prepare critical analyses of published research and the theories on which it is based. Undertaking a thesis or dissertation is stressful. This book serves as a source of calm and logic as students begin to work on their literature review chapter.
Finally, individuals preparing to write literature reviews for possible publication in journals as well as those who need to include literature reviews in grant proposals will find this book helpful.
The following features make this book unique among textbooks designed to teach analytical writing:
The book’s focus is on writing critical reviews of original research.
It guides students through a systematic, multistep writing process.
The steps and guidelines are organized sequentially and are illustrated with examples from a wide range of academic journals.
Each chapter is designed to help students develop a set of specific products that will contribute to a competent literature review.
Notes to the Instructor
Many colleges and universities have adopted “writing across the curriculum” programs, in which students are required to write papers in all courses. While the goals of such programs are admirable, many instructors are pressed for time to cover just the traditional content of their courses, leaving them with little time to teach writing. Such instructors will find this book useful because the explicit steps in the writing process are illustrated with examples throughout, making it possible for students to use it largely on their own. In addition, many professors “naturally” write well but have given little thought to—and have no training in—how to teach writing. As a supplement, this book solves that dilemma by providing a detailed guide to the writing process.
Much of what most of us know about writing was learned through what Kamhi- Stein (1997) calls the “one-shot writing assignment” (p. 52).1 This is where the instructor gives an assignment at the beginning of the term, using the prompt, “Write a paper about
In this book, the activities at the end of each chapter guide students through these various steps of the writing process. These activities can be recast as a series of tasks that can easily be incorporated into the syllabus of a survey course in a specific discipline as a multistep writing assignment. Thus, this book has two complementary audiences: (a) instructors who may want to incorporate this multistep writing approach into their course syllabus and (b) students, working independently, who may need help in planning and implementing the various stages involved in completing a major writing assignment, such as the literature review chapter of a thesis or dissertation.
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