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Sociology Course Guides: 10 Tips for Writing a Literature Review

Find all the research guides for courses in Sociology. Find your course number and check it out!

10 Tips

1.  Check your assignment instructions- number of journals may vary by instructor. Make sure you know the number and type (Qualitative, Quantitative, Archival etc.) of journals needed to ensure you are fulfilling the first requirement for the assignment. Identify if you are using ASA or APA. HINT: Use Zotero (10 or more articles) or Citation Machine (10 or less articles) if you are using ASA.

2.  Don’t put the full title of the article in your paper- just refer to it as "this study" or "Research found" or "Studies on this issue". HINT: Check out the literature reviews of some of the articles you are reading as a perfect example of how to refer to your articles.

3.  Refer to authors by last name only- if it is multiple authors (ASA), for three authors, give all last names in the first citation in the text; in subsequent citations, use the first name and et al. For four or more authors, use the first author's last name plus et al. in all citations. For multiple authors (APA) Three to Five Authors: List all the authors in the signal phrase or in parentheses the first time you cite the source. Use the word "and" between the authors' names within the text and use the ampersand in parentheses. Six or More Authors: Use the first author's name followed by et al. in the signal phrase or in parentheses

4.  FOCUS on the meat of the article not their lit reviews: Findings, Discussion, Results….Avoid any sentences in the paper that cite someone else! use sentences written by the author you are reading. 

5.  References are in alphabetical order by last name of the first author starting with A- in text citations- do NOT re-order names of authors in a single article alphabetically.

6.  No personal stories- or really cool introductions- no OPINION and no arguing the “obvious” point of view- there is no BIAS in lit reviews

7.  Social Science DIRECT QUOTE= page number… If you are summarizing NO PAGE number needed for APA/ASA.

8.  Make sure that you are not neglecting key studies in the field. Make sure your sources are relevant both on topic and timeliness. ITS OK TO HAVE ARTICLES THAT DO NOT AGREE WITH YOU. Address them and see why they may not match the findings of other research (different population, different variables, different analysis etc.)  

9. This is NOT a book report- you need to synthesize your articles- arrange them by concept or theme or similarities- differences- Some articles may be mentioned in more than one section. One section may only have one relevant article. don't forget to mention any limitations and future research that should be done on your topic! 

10. Grade yourself with the grade sheet given to you by your professor so you don't leave anything out!!!

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