Part 1: Recognizing Synthesis of Multiple Sources: Creating an Outline as Your Early Draft
If you’ve ever assembled a jigsaw puzzle then you know that each piece makes a contribution to the whole puzzle, the whole story. Writing a literature review is a bit like assembling a jigsaw puzzle. All of the individual pieces (the sources’ arguments) must be put together in order to reveal the whole picture, which in the case of the literature review, is the current state of thinking about your selected topic. As a literature review is different than an annotated bibliography, which presents source summaries one after the other, it can be challenging to structure and organize your research so that you’re showing the current state of knowledge on your topic.
Where do you begin? Your goal as a researcher, who has analyzed a body of literature, is to determine the current state of knowledge about your research topic. One of the tools you can use to process the source information, organize your thoughts and research, and shape your Project 3 Literary Review, is an outline.
The current state of knowledge means, as we already discussed, what the main discussion (academic and public sources) on your topic is about. For example, if your topic is anti-vaccine people, then you probably want to have a thesis on how studies that linked autism to vaccines have gained momentum. If your topic is feminism in the Trump era, then you would probably want to speak about the influence of feminist studies on the political discourse.
Skills & Strategies
This Part 1
The most important things to consider here are the ability to summarize and synthesize your sources and establish the connections among them.
Description (and Step by Step)
For Part 1, you will construct a full sentence alphanumeric outline. Prior to writing your outline, you should consider the following pre-outline questions/steps:
1. Summarize and cite your sources using the rhetorical summary model as a guide. Zero in on the key issues each source reveals and the author’s position on each issue.
In other words, go back to your rhetorical summary model and build on that.( I uploded my rhetorical summary)
2. Step back and see the key issues that the sources’ arguments reveal when the bigger picture emerges as a result of your synthesis. These key issues are the repeated topics of concern raised by your sources, the intersections/connections, points of agreement, and/or the points of contradictions you have discovered.
What major points do all your sources have in common? Those are the ones you need to consider for your work.
3. With each key issue the big picture reveals, note any subtopics within the key issues, highlight examples, paraphrase source material, and sparingly use quotes that provide detail.
After you established the major points, check if there are any subtopics that are worth working on. Use quotes SPARINGLY means avoid them for the most part.
4. Now you’re ready to write your thesis and organize your material by key issues.
The following suggested steps will help you to present the intended content of your literature review and organize that content in a logical, coherent manner:
1. Begin with a centered working title for your Project 3 Literature Review
2. Construct your thesis, the sentence or two that reveals the current state of knowledge on your topic: the overarching focus of your literature review
3. Write topic sentences that introduce at least 4 major key issues. Label these major key issues as Roman Numerals (I, II, III, IV)
4. List any key issue subtopics that subdivide the major key issues further. Label these key issue subtopics in capital letters (A, B, C, etc.)
5. Note supporting points or arguments as evidence (examples, paraphrased material, brief quotes) for each key issue. Label this evidence in Alpha numerals (1, 2, 3, etc.).
6. If applicable, continue to sub-divide each supporting point until your outline is fully developed. Label any subdivisions in lower case letters (a, b, c, etc.).
Breathe and keep going.
You want to identify at least 4 key issues (and subsequent sub-issues if they exist) so that you have enough material related to the current state of thinking on your research topic.
Try to be as complete as you can in the details you provide (examples, paraphrased material, brief quotes) from your source material. By being thorough, you will have (1) more information to draw from, (2) an organization pattern to follow, and (3) a solid reference guide to transfer to the writing of your literature review.
While you want to quote from the research when the way something is said is unique and critical to the understanding of the argument, be careful not to overquote or use long or block quotes; otherwise.
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