Writing Exercise #4
Preliminary Literature Review (25 points)
Due by 4pm October 1, 2014 (use the link on Blackboard to upload your paper)
Format: 11 or 12 point font, 1 inch margins, double-spaced. Please upload all of your assignments for this course as either a Word or a text file (so that I can
comment directly in the body of your paper). Do not use œzip files.
Expected length: approx 1-2 pages, plus the table (at the end of this document) and the abstracts
The overall goal of this short assignment is to identify relevant literature (i.e. previous research) that will be the basis for the Literature Review section of your
final proposal: Steps 1-4 below will help you critically review the existing academic research (in sociology) related to your topic and
? Identify sources for a brief literature review related to your topic that will help you describe what is currently known about your topic.
? As you read what has been written about your topic, critically evaluate the existing research and consider if there any gaps in what is known. If there are gaps or
unexplored areas, discuss how your research will fill those gaps. Are there any controversies which your proposed research would address/resolve?
Step 5 describes how you should write your short paper.
Step 1. Find 5 articles related to your topic that have been published in academic journals and that each summarize one specific research project. We will review these
sources in class.
? Use an on-line search database such as SocAbstracts, PsycINFO or MedLine (Available online through U of L?s library web-page). If you have questions, see me for help
in selecting one.
? Do NOT use Google. If you do, you will find non-academic sources. This assignment asks you to examine the academic literature and Google will not be the most helpful
source for you.
? Use the search function in the database and search by key terms related to your topic. Think like a social scientist and use terminology which researchers would use!
? Some of the abstracts will not be relevant to your topic and you should omit these. Other abstracts, however, will be relevant to your topic. You will need to get
copies of those articles.
The articles must meet the following criteria. If any of your articles do not meet all of the criteria, they will not count toward the 5 required (i.e. you will
receive 0 points for that article)
1. Each article must present data from a specific social science research study, i.e. it should be an actual study that was conducted ?an ?empirical research study?.
It can NOT be a review of the existing literature, a meta-analysis, a policy analysis, a theoretical or analytical discussion, or an opinion-piece. The methods the
author(s) used should be one of the ones we discuss.
2. Each article must address a research question similar to the one you wish to investigate.
3. Each article must include some of the same independent and dependent variables as yours.
4. The article should be current ? no older than 10-15 years (e.g. not published before 1999).
5. The research in each article must have been conducted in the U.S.
6. The research in each article must have been conducted in a similar setting as the one you will propose (e.g. if you are looking at crime in rural areas, do NOT use
articles which report on urban crime.)
7. The article should be published in an academic, peer-reviewed journal.
? Do not use popular magazines, e.g. Time, News Week, U. S. News and World Report, Psychology Today, Family Circle, Readers Digest.
? Do not use blogs, wikis, or other non-academic sources.
Step 2: When you find a relevant article listed in the database, obtain a copy of the actual article. There are several ways to obtain a hardcopy of the article
? through an online link in the abstract to a pdf version of the file;
? through U of L?s electronic journals (the link is found on the U of L library web-page)
? from a (hardcopy) journal held by the library; or
? through an interlibrary loan (photocopy of the article).
Step 3: Read the articles! Do not rely on the abstract alone. Although the article appeared to fit with your topic, after you have read it, ask yourself if it is a
relevant article. If not, find another!
Step 4: Consider adding additional references/sources to your literature review.
Do the initial articles you found reference other important studies which you should also include in your paper? Do not omit well-known or key articles just because
you have reached 5 articles! You will need to include additional sources for your final paper.
Step 5: WRITTEN ASSIGNMENT:
Answer A and C in complete sentences:
A. Introduction: Tell me which databases you used; what keywords or subjects you included (be specific about how you worded your ?search terms? and whether they were
keywords, subjects, found anywhere in the article, etc.); and other limitations you imposed on your search (e.g. English-only; timeframe; country, etc.) (3 points)
B. Provide a correct bibliographic citation using a standard format of your choice.(1 pts each)
C. Conclusions: After you?ve described your 5 articles in the table (described below), answer this question: Based on what you?ve discovered through your preliminary
literature review, will you need to revise your research question? Discuss this and re-state what your research question will be. (2 pts)
D. Use the attached table to summarize each article and describe each of the following 4 points
1. Describe the research setting (Examples include: a single city (New York); the state of Texas; all 4 elementary schools in Torrington, CT; 2 support groups for
divorced women in Central Hospital in New Canaan, LA; etc.) (1/2 point each article)
2. Describe the study population (e.g. elementary students; married heterosexual couples, etc.) (1/2 point each article)
NOTE: If you can?t describe the research setting or the study population, then chances are you are not using an empirical research study. If that is the case, since
you may ONLY include empirical research studies, please find a different article!
3. State the research question which the investigators examined. Sometimes you need to infer this if the authors don?t directly identify it themselves.) If the
research was quantitative, also answer: What were the Independent Variables? What were the Dependent Variables? Think about these ? they should NOT be exactly the same
as yours. I will check. (1 pts each article)
4. State the hypotheses in the article if the research is quantitative. Note: if you have a quantitative study you should be able to find (or figure out) what the
hypotheses are. If you think one of your sources is a qualitative study, explain why you think it is qualitative (and therefore the study doesn?t have hypotheses.)
(1/2 point each article)
If any of the above (#1-5) do not match your research question, explain why you think the article is a valid one for you to use as a basis for your research proposal.
E. Attach either a link or a copy of the published abstract from each article at the end of your paper (? point each)
Article 1 Article 2 Article 3 Article 4 Article 5
Title of article