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GWS 302: Feminist Methods

This is a course guide intended to be used by students enrolled in CSUN's GWS 302 course.

Your Literature Review Assignment

For your literature review assignment, you are supposed to place peer reviewed articles (you have retrieved and selected) in conversation with each other and write a draft of the literature review. You are expected to show:

1. how each author addresses your topic

2. how the articles differ from or build on each other in light of your topic

3. develop a research question or hypothesis (ie. based on what you have read, what is the one research question you intend to test and answer through your review of a primary source)? The question, in other words, is what the articles raise for you and what you and you alone will be able to answer with primary data analysis. 


The Scholarly Conversation

A literature review provides an overview of previous research on a topic that critically evaluates, classifies, and compares what has already been published on a particular topic. It allows the author to synthesize and place into context the research and scholarly literature relevant to the topic. It helps map out the different approaches to a given question and reveals patterns. It forms the foundation for the author’s subsequent research and justifies the significance of the new investigation.

Typically Literature reviews are designed to accomplish two main goals:

1) provide your readers an overview of sources you have explored while researching a particular topic or idea

2) demonstrate how your research/topic fits into the larger field of study

Steps to successfully producing a literature review

1) Decide on a topic and identify the literature base you will review

-Become familiar with the relevant databases for that subject

-Identify search terms that capture your subject

-Start with general search terms and experiment with different terms noting which work

-Identify the important studies on the topic

-Redefine your topic if necessary. Try to narrow it to a specific interest area with the broad area


2)  Analyze the literature (Your role is to evaluate what you’ve read.)

-Usually a review covers the last 5 years of literature on a topic

-Skim the articles to get an idea of the purpose and content.

-Group the articles into categories and sub-categories

-Take notes: Define key terms, key statistics, identify useful quotes

-Note strengths, weaknesses and emphases

-Identify trends or patterns

-Identify gaps in the literature

-Identify relationships between studies, which led to others etc.

-Stay focused on your topic


3) Synthesis

-Identify your area of focus and say why it is relevant or important to the topic

-summarize the contributions of important studies/articles to the topic

-evaluate the current “state of the art” point out gaps or inconsistencies in research or theories     point out areas of possible future research

-provide some insight into the relationship between the central topic of the literature review and a larger area of study

-write a conclusion that clarifies how the material in the review has supported your proposition in the introduction

What is a Literature Review?

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