• Literature Review (Rough      Outline Peer Review) 
    • 6-8 double-spaced pages, 12 pt. font,       standard margins (no spaces between paragraphs)
    • Title page (title, name, school, date)
    • Professional objective writing style (“Based on evidence A, we can determine that…”) as opposed to the subjective writing style (i.e., “I believe that…” “In my experience…”) 
    • Properly cited paper and reference page in APA or MLA format (w/ 6       academic sources)


Phase 1: Literature Review

  1. ANSWER THIS QUESTION: “What do you want to know about      relational communication or communication in relationships?” What are you curious about? Develop a topic paragraph about that idea and share it with the professor. Receive feedback.  Think some more.
  2. DEVELOP A BASE: Use momentum developed from the paragraph you wrote above and the professor’s feedback to develop at least one specific research question (e.g., “How does praising communication increase partner emotional well-being during pregnancy?). Notice the parts to the research question: There is a      DV, known as the dependent variable or outcome (“emotional well-being”),      an IV, or independent variable or manipulation (“praising communication”),      and a situation or context (“during pregnancy”). This structure could have been changed in any way (substitute “praising communication” for “deceptive communication” or “during pregnancy” to “during deployment”). Our goal at this point is to be specific enough about what we are looking for, but not too specific that it is impossible to find anything. So try to create a research question to start with that has an IV,      a DV, and a situation. Remember to make it about communication! NOTE: Admittedly there are other ways to write RQs, but this is a good place to start and an easy way to make me happy.
  3. EXPLORE: Look for literature that should help you understand a bit more about the parts of your research question. You’ve invited those three elements (IV, DV, situation) to a party, and you are going to do the research equivalent of Facebook stalking them. Type the words from      your question as you conceived them into an online research database (ComAbstracts,      Communication & Mass. Media Complete, PsychInfo) and do a “background      check.” See if there are any articles there about any of the terms that fit what you are trying to do. Save the most relevant articles. Then, type synonyms into the databases (e.g., “praising communication” may also be “positive communication,” or “supportive communication” or “uplifting communication”). Chances are that someone has looked at your idea from some angle. Very rarely is there “nothing” done on a      topic.
  4. BE SELECTIVE: Find at least the best six articles and read them. Take brief notes. Get a sense of what people are saying about your topic and IV, DV, and situation/context. If there is a theory that jumps out at you use it. If there is an author or group that writes on that topic, explore it further. You are going for relevance here; There should be a lot of research junk that isn’t connected to what you are doing...push it out of the way and extract the best. Reject any of the original six articles you selected if you find new ones with more relevance.
  5. CREATE A NARRATIVE: Narratives come in many forms, but I      want you to consider, even before you start writing, “What is this literature telling me? What is the      story here?“ Consider the following purposely general examples: I may conclude from the articles I      read that universally a particular situation is damaging and that some particular type of communication can help, but we need more research to determine which, when, and how. Or, I may conclude there are answers about how personality shapes social connection in one way, but how communication contributes isn’t known yet. Or (finally) that the literature leans on a few theories on this certain relational phenomenon,      but they contradict each other, in these ways, and communication can help explain these (seemingly) contradictions. You need this “narrative” idea about your topic area, so you can get a sense of where your paper is going even before you write it. You don’t need to be 100% accurate about it this early, but you should have a sense of the path you are walking.
  6. WRITE THE THING: Literature reviews, or as I like to call them “the front half of research papers” tend to follow a pattern resembling an upside-down triangle. The wide base at the top is meant to be your broad strokes or a general overview of the concept. The middle of the triangle represents specific points about the topic, or sub-areas, supported by evidence (your articles). Finally, the point at the bottom of the triangle should represent the “POINT” of the paper: What is the RQ or H that you want to explore (as a result of this story about the literature you just told)? All material prior should lead up to the point. Based on what you found in your literature, you may need to update or revise your research question.
  7. MULTIPLE DRAFTS: Your peer-review day is meant to be an opportunity for another draft, another round of revisions. On that day you are expected to have your paper 75% completed. You should have an internal draft process in which you have multiple drafts yourself. Before you hand anything into me, always make sure you reread the entire paper for errors,      punctuation, etc. Use the “Final      Checklist” on the next page as a helpful reminder of what to look for.      Papers that look and read like half, partial, or hurried efforts will be graded accordingly.
  8. END YOUR LIT. REVIEW WITH THE RQ OR H. Your next paper, the proposal, will pick up from there and explain how you will test that RQ or H. 
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