Literature Review
Research Paper
The literature review presents the body of knowledge as it relates to your research question, and by so doing, creates the justification for your study. If it is a quantitative study, you may start with big theories or authors, then gradually provide more and more detail so that at the end of the chapter, the reader says, “Wow, there really is a gap in our understanding of this issue.” If it is a qualitative study, you still want to give background to the study: what authors have written on this topic, what is known about it, and create the hole. This chapter is your longest and can be very long (if there has been lots of research on the topic) or fairly slim (although never so slight as to be less than 20 pages).
It may be a chapter in a dissertation, but that does not mean it cannot have an intriguing introduction, either one that sets the scene, creates a problem, or somehow “hooks” the reader. This is also the place to give the reader an overview of what you will cover in the chapter. You can state something like:
First, I will review the three major theories that impact this research—Transformative Learning Theory, Self-Directed Learning Theory, and Critical Race Theory—and then review the research on these theories as they affect adult and higher education institutions, students, and faculty. Lastly, I will review any remaining studies that examine this research topic and finish with the chapter summary.
Grouping the Studies:
You can group the studies by a variety of frameworks, by theories, by authors, by impact, by whatever is most appropriate. Think this through and make a logical plan for grouping, discussing, and critiquing the literature. Your advisor can help in this process. Be sure to make a plan, communicate the plan to the reader, and stick to the plan.
Critiquing the Research:
It is important that you analyze the research that has been done. Don’t just report the findings, but report how the research was done and whether it is reliable.
Make tentative Assertions:
As you move through the literature, help the reader understand what is important, what is not, what impacts your research, what doesn’t and what they should conclude. Your credibility is at stake, so make sure your assertions are supportable.
Research Questions state your research questions at the end of Chapter 2)
Reaffirms the literature used in support of the problem under study.
ntroduction (Length: from one paragraph to three or more pages)
The Background of the Study (Brief review of the literature. Length: two to five pages) Statement of the Problem (Length: from one paragraph to three or more pages) Purpose Statement (Length: 1-2 sentences, no more than one paragraph)
Research Questions (Length: 2-5 questions that will guide your study)
Significance of the Study (Is the problem important? How important? Length: from one paragraph to three or more pages)
Theoretical/Conceptual Framework (Brief overview of theories or concepts that will be utilized or will be the basis for your study. Length: from one paragraph to two or more pages)
Assumptions (What must you assume to be true in order to proceed? Length: from one paragraph to two or more pages)
Limitations (Length: from one paragraph to one page) Delimitations (Length: from one paragraph to one page) Definition of Terms (Length: ½ a page to three pages) Study Overview (Length: One paragraph)
5. Include the portion of the References section you used in Chapter One

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