STEP 1: TASK DEFINITION
Ask, "What's the task? What types of information do I need?"
Think about the final product you will need to create, and consider what special requirements you need to follow!
THE REVIEW OF LITERATURE
A literature review provides background information on your research topic. The review should contain information and facts that help the reader become familiar with your topic or subject area. It should also contain specific information about experiments that scientists have done which relate to your topic area. This will help you learn about the techniques and equipment that might be best for investigating your topic.
Your paper should be 3 to 6 typed double spaced pages. The literature review is NOT a paper about your specific experiment. Focus instead on the broader subject area of your topic.
Begin by researching your topic in an encyclopedia to gain basic background information about your topic. Find out what is considered “common knowledge” in your topic and learn about the fundamental understandings, areas of research and related issues in your topic area.
Be sure to document all of your information. Plagiarism is when someone copies the words, pictures, diagrams, or ideas of someone else and presents them as their own. You may not copy information from any source without properly giving credit to the author. If you copy a sentence or paragraph exactly, it should be in quotation marks. Connect all of your notes to your sources so that you can give credit to the author.
All of your sources must be cited according to the MLA form in a bibliography at the end of your paper. An easy way to correctly cite your sources is to use the information found in the Lib Guide for this project.
What to include in your literature review.
A. Introductory Information: This is a paragraph or two explaining what your topic is and stating the question that you hope to answer through your experiment. Include implications that your research may have.
B. Background Information: This should be the majority of the paper. It includes terms that need to be defined and relevant facts and details that explain your topic and enable you to understand the research that you will be doing. This section shows that you know the information needed to understand your project and experiment as a whole. For example if your project is on lead contamination in water supplies then you need to explain why we should be concerned about lead contamination, how water supplies are cleaned, how water supplies could become contaminated with lead, what lead is, what it is used for and why it is a dangerous substance.
C. Related Research: This section is where you describe research experiments that are related to your topic. This will show that you understand the research that is taking place in your topic area. Look for researchers who have experimented in your topic area. You do not need to find researchers who have completed your exact experiment. You should include 3 different studies. Describe who is doing the research, what they are doing, how they are doing it, what they have found out and how it relates to your research. DO NOT tell the reader what you plan to do in your experiment – that is what the research plan is for.
D. Conclusion: This section should bring the reader back to your introduction and tie together all the parts of the paper. At this time you may include a sentence or two on what your experiment is and the question you hope to answer.
E. References: This is a complete list of the sources you used to write your Literature Review. You need to find six sources total. Three of your sources need to be primary sources (actual experiments done by scientists). An easy way to correctly cite your sources is to use the information found in the Lib Guide.
Other Important Information
Grading - Your paper will be graded using the Review of Literature Rubric that will be given to you.
Due Date: Check with your instructor for due dates for your class. Different teachers may have different due dates!