# 2.6: Review of the Literature

A Review of the Literature is a series of summaries. Each one summarizes a single outside source. Each source should directly address some idea in your proposal, or provide an example of how your proposal works for others, or provide an example of how your proposal should NOT work, or addresses your mission, operating principle, or goals, or in some way adds information about your proposal.

### What kinds of sources may I use?

With the Rule of Thumb adjacent in mind, the format for each source may come from places like academic articles, magazine articles, book chapters, book reviews, news reports, government reports, organization web pages, blogs, encyclopedias, dictionaries, personal interviews (of authorities on the subject), abstracts, introductions, statistics, data, studies, cases, and so on.

Rule of Thumb

Each outside source should be by a different person or group. Each source should be one that is recognized as legitimate by the person/people to whom you intend to present your proposal.

### How many should I use?

Use at least 5 different sources and different formats. For example, if you use 3 personal interviews, that counts as one format and you need at least 4 more sources or formats. In other words, do not use all of the same format or all of the same source for your 5 summaries.

### Where do I find them?

For sources, start with those with which you are familiar and are appropriate to the context of the problem. For example, if you are proposing some sort of change in athletics policies at the university, sports magazines and articles, coaches, athletes, policy manuals, brochures, web sites, and blogs are OK as sources for your information (but you are not limited to these). However, those same kinds of sources may NOT be appropriate for, say, proposing a lawn business start-up, or designing an education web page, or suggesting software for use in a medical office, or organizing a local network or support group, and so on.

Once you use up familiar sources, go to search protocols, like Google or Google scholar, the library periodicals search, and simply asking others where they might find information about your proposal.

Rule of Thumb

Avoid long sources, like books or long articles. If you use these, look for shorter sections or chapters on which you can concentrate.

### What do I do once I find something I want to use?

Be sure that you collect the following information from every source you use:

• Quotable words, phrases, sentences, or passages.

For anything online that you think you might use, copy all the text of the page or article into a blank document and save that document to read, print, and/or study. Later, you may copy and paste quotes – and you must use quotation marks around any material you copy – so that you do not make any mistakes transposing quoted material.

• Who – the person you got the information from.
For printed materials, that is the author or authors. For non-print sources, that may be a contact for an interview or the organization that put together a catalog, brochure, or web page.
• When – the date of publication or the date you accessed the information.
• Where – the publisher, the book, the web site that your particular web page is a part of, the name of the journal, and so on.
• What – the title of the work or source.

Rule of Thumb

Submit each summary to the instructor as you finish it, so that you know how format (and what mistakes to avoid) in the ones that you finish later.

### What do I do after I collect the information above from a source?

Once you find a source you want to summarize, use the questions below to create a summary for each source.

## Prompts

Here are the questions to answer in order to structure each of your summaries:

1. What is the type of source, the title of the source, the author of the source, and a one-phrase description of the entire work? (Web sources may not show author)
2. What is a detailed description/summary of each part of the source?
3. What are the goals or what is the point to the project or source you are summarizing?
4. How does your source accomplish the goals or make the point?
5. Who does the author seem to be speaking to, or who does he or she seek to help/inform?
6. Where does the goal seem to best apply (in what context or situation)?
7. When does the goal seem to apply best (at what point in life, or school, or some process, or some point in time)?
8. How do you assign a value to (evaluate) the main idea, goals, methods, and/or other information within the source?

## Template/Draft

Example $$\PageIndex{1}$$: Summary 1

## Tutorial

#### Prompt 1

What is the type of source, the title of the source, the author of the source, and a one-phrase description of the entire work? (Web sources may not show author)

The first statement in each summary should answer the question above:

On the website “NSU Undergraduate Research Day,” the coordinators lay out a series of requirements for submitting projects to Undergraduate Research Day.

$$\begin{split} \text{On the website} \quad & \leftarrow \quad \textbf{type of source} \\ \text{“NSU Undergraduate Research Day,”} \quad & \leftarrow \quad \textbf{title} \\ \text{the coordinators} \quad & \leftarrow \quad \textbf{author} \\ \text{lay out a series of requirements} \quad & \\ \text{for submitting projects to} \quad & \leftarrow \quad \textbf{summary description} \\ \text{Undergraduate Research Day.} \quad & \end{split}$$

#### Prompt 2

What is a detailed description/summary of each part of the source?

The next few statements (3-5) should summarize or describe each section or part of the source:

Example $$\PageIndex{2}$$:

One webpage answers Frequently Asked Questions such as “When Is the Deadline for Submission?” and “How Do We Get Started?” On another page there is a sample project, which is laid out in poster form. Each part of the poster is annotated with a visual (an arrow) indicating what that part should have. There is also a Registration page where we can send information or just request more information about that event.

#### Prompt 3

What are the goals or what is the point to the project or source you are summarizing?

Ask yourself what the point to the source/information is, or what goal or goals seem to be the aim of the selection, and answer in a single statement:

Example $$\PageIndex{3}$$:

The goal for this event, as stated, is to “encourage guided undergraduate research and to share findings with the university community” (“Research Day” home).

#### Prompt 4

How does your source accomplish the goals or make the point?

Describe in at least 3 statements the steps or events that lead your source to the outcome or solution at which it arrives:

Example $$\PageIndex{4}$$:

They accomplish this by announcing the spring event at the beginning of the previous fall semester, giving the place to begin (their website), defining who is eligible, and listing awards and prizes. Submissions go to a committee for initial review, then to the various departments for a fuller review. Every entrant gets a bookmark, every accepted project’s author(s) get a book bag, and winners get first, second, honorable mention. The “Best of the Best” award goes to the most outstanding project from each School. All awards carry a 50-dollar stipend as well.

#### Prompt 5

Who does the author seem to be speaking to, or who does he or she seek to help/inform?

In a single statement, identify the audience the author seems to be speaking to:

Example $$\PageIndex{5}$$:

All of this seems to be aimed at students who do well-researched projects by recognizing their efforts.

#### Prompt 6

Where does the goal seem to best apply (in what context or situation)?

In a single statement, speculate as to where, or in what situation, or in what context, the goal seem to fit or apply:

Example $$\PageIndex{6}$$:

#### Prompt 7

When does the goal seem to apply best (at what point in life, or school, or some process, or some point in time)?

In a single statement, try to place on a timeline when the goal seems most appropriate:

Example $$\PageIndex{7}$$:

For some students, this event seems to come at a critical time in their university careers.

#### Prompt 8

How do you assign a value to (evaluate) the main idea, goals, methods, and/or other information within the source?

In a single statement, sum up what you think of, or what your reaction is to, the source or article as a whole. This is your chance to assign a value to what you just read. Is it helpful? Original? Flawed? Too short? Useful? Give it a value (that is, evaluate it) and explain why you think that is its value:

The whole idea of a day where everyone finds out what others are researching and/or writing about is valuable I think because we find out that it is not that mysterious to do research, there is lots of help available, the recognition is good for resumes, it mirrors the kinds of things people in individual fields do anyway, and the lunch that day is free.

Rule of Thumb

Include as many sources as you can find. A good guide for how many sources to use is the average number of sources each of your sources cites. The minimum number for sources is 5.