Assignment # 2: Literature Review

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Assignment # 2: Literature Review

Due: Sunday March 25 @ 8:00 p.m.

To be done individually. Objective:

The objective of this assignment is to explore by means of a review of the literature a topic which interests you within the LIS field. To address any misconceptions or preconceptions you may have about literature reviews: a literature review is neither just an essay nor an annotated bibliography, but an approach in its own right which incorporates characteristics of the essay (which explores one main idea in a cohesive, richly developed discussion) and an annotated bibliography (which analyzes and clearly identifies the relevant points of individual articles). The literature review incorporates both these techniques and goes beyond to produce a synthesis of the articles. In Bloom’s taxonomy, synthesis is a higher level of thinking than analysis. What is “synthesis”?

According to Wikipedia’s discussion of Bloom’s Cognitive domains (, while analysis “examine[s] and break[s] information into parts by identifying motives or causes; make[s] inferences and find[s] evidence to support generalizations,” (para. 5), synthesis “compile[s] information together in a different way by combining elements in a new pattern” (para. 6). As you prepare your literature review, you will analyze each of the relevant articles for themes, points of agreement and disagreement, and convergent and divergent thinking, and you will put forth your own “take” on the literature about your topic. Use your now-well-informed opinion to shape your essay/literature review by emphasizing those authors and ideas that best develop your view and acknowledging those authors and ideas that do not. The synthesis in a literature review is a very sophisticated, critical thinking approach to scholarly research. A well-written literature review is a hallmark of graduate level work.

• Choose a subject of interest to you from the list of topics (see last page) and prepare your proposal (see instructions last page), to be submitted by Week 3.

• Select scholarly articles*, especially research articles, relevant to your subject, written within the past 7-10 years. Find 10-12 highly relevant, scholarly articles.

Read each article analytically, identifying the author’s main points relative to your subject. For research articles, determine how the study and its findings support your interest in the subject and add to your knowledge of the topic?

• After reading and analyzing all the articles, take a high-level look at the articles and how they relate to one another and to your interest. Look for themes, points of agreement and disagreement, and convergent and divergent thinking in the articles. For example, are there ethical/philosophical questions raised by some authors? Are the problems addressed by the research studies similar or different, and why? Are there conflicting points of view? Who are the proponents of each point of view? What is the impact of these articles on your view of your chosen topic? What are the implications of these scholarly works on the information profession? on society as a whole? Ask hard questions like these so that you thoroughly understand the viewpoints and implications of the articles as a whole.

• Pay close attention to the impact of the different views on your own thinking on the subject. How have the articles informed and influenced your thinking? Which authors most closely track with your view of the subject? What have you learned from those authors whose views are different from yours? What one main point will you make in your essay/literature review? Now you’re ready to write.

• Organize your paper. Look back at the themes you identified as you read, analyzed, compared, and contrasted the articles. Organize your literature review into sub-divisions (themes). Note the authors you will discuss for each theme, and give a great deal of thought to the main idea you will develop relative to each theme; give thought as to how each author fits into your discussion of each theme.

• Prepare an introductory paragraph in which you state your main point and introduce the themes in the order you will discuss and develop them.

• For each theme or section, write about the relevant literature, using the thematic sub-divisions as headings in your paper. Provide transitions to move the reader from one theme to the next, always showing in each section the way the theme relates to the overall main point of your essay/literature review.

• As you write, make reference to the literature (the authors and articles) you have consulted. Use APA-style references (Smith & Wesson, 2010) in your discussion—not full names of authors (James Smith and Charles Wesson) and not article titles. Use direct quotations sparingly; when you quote, give a page reference.

• Prepare a concluding paragraph that pulls together all the themes and restates your main point.

• Include at the end of your review an APA-style reference list of the literature cited.

• Carefully reread and proofread your work; particularly if you are a weak writer, have a peer or mentor review your work for style, spelling, grammatical errors, APA errors, and clarity.

• Submit your work; celebrate a job well done!

This may sound complicated, but really it is not the case. It is just a particular way of reading, thinking about, and writing about the scholarly literature. Without question, it is a lot of work the first time. To restate, a literature review can be seen as an essay that is slanted toward and developed through the literature. Your job is to analyze the literature in order to understand what is being written on your subject, and then to synthesize the various views presented by the experts in the field. Unlike an annotated bibliography, where you compile a list of citations with brief descriptions, in a literature review you are telling a continuous prose story, weaving together the ideas contained in the literature you have examined. Throughout your discussion, you cite the literature; at the end of your paper, you provide a complete, alphabetical APA-formatted list of your sources.

You may select one of the following suggested topics or choose one of your own,

subject to my approval. (hint: these are general; be more specific!)
Digital libraries

• Ethics and Values of the Library and Information Professions

• Arguments for and against Information Science as a discipline or profession.

• Copyright

• Censorship

• Intellectual Freedom

• Issue related to access to information (e.g. Fee vs. free. Haves vs. the have- nots. Open access. Access for patrons with disabilities.)

• The problem of “Authority” in Internet-based information sources

• Should colleges allow Wikipedia as a reference for papers?

• Social Networking as an information source

• The Digital Divide
Proposal: (due Week 3 of class; 5 points of the total 25)
Write a brief proposal (no more than one page single-spaced) clearly stating the topic you will explore; briefly saying what you already know and what you expect to learn from your review from the scholarly and research literature; and listing three scholarly articles in APA format. I will review the proposal and provide approval for your topic and formative feedback on your APA format. If for some reason your topic is not accepted, you will need to resubmit a revised proposal. Timely submission of the proposal is worth five (5) points of the total 25 points.
*FAQs about articles:

Q: What is considered a “scholarly article”? How is it different from a “research article”?

A: Scholarly articles are those published in reputable, peer-reviewed journals (such as those listed in the syllabus). Scholarly articles are generally either “theory” or “research” articles. Theory articles review and build on the scholarly thinking in the field, making heavy use of the existing scholarly and research literature and demonstrating the author’s expertise and original thinking about the subject; often they synthesize complex strands of thinking and research and push for further work in particular directions. Research articles specifically report a research study done by the author, using a recognizable, 5-part format (Statement of the problem; Review of the literature; Design/Methodology; Findings/Results; Implications for the field and for further research).
Although scholarly journals are peer-reviewed, certain features contained within them are not. Examples of non-peer-reviewed features are editorials, regular columns, news articles, book reviews, etc. These types of sources are will NOT be counted towards the

10-12 article requirement. I strongly encourage you to seek out research studies conducted in the topic area you have chosen. Articles by practitioners may be used sparingly if they demonstrate strong knowledge of the scholarly literature (e.g., the article’s bibliography shows 20+ relevant sources, rather than just a few). Avoid “opinion” pieces and “here’s what I tried” discussions. When in doubt, send the article to the instructor for a second opinion!

Grading: 25% of total grade (including proposal worth 5 points)

LIS-505 Introduction to Library and Information Studies

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