There are numerous ways to organize the material in a lit. review. For example, one might organize the selected readings by
- different theoretical approaches
- specific concepts or issues
- different methodologies employed
- level of support or otherwise that they lend to one’s own hypothesis/theory.
Such methods are generally better than organizing chronologically or by author. The latter often result in a boring review or one lacking clarity or direction.
It is common to organize one’s lit. review thematically. For example, one might organize a review on standardized testing in schools according to the following themes or issues:
- History of standardized tests
- Different types of standardized tests
- Rationale of standardized tests
- Role of high stakes tests
- Standardized tests and the law
Standardized Tests in Practice
- Testing at elementary school
- Testing at secondary school
Critics and Proponents of Standardized Tests
- Testing of students with disabilities
- Testing of minority students
- Testing of students from different social backgrounds
- Gender differences in testing
- Case for bias
- Case against bias
- Teachers’ perspectives
- School administrators’ perspectives
- Students’ perspectives
At the start of your process, it may be helpful to create an outline of steps that you will take, and to consider available resources and services that might help you complete every step. Here, we provided a general flow chart in the right box, a list of questions you may ask, and resources may help you answer these quesitons below.
Before getting started, familiarize yourself with two essential resources provided by the Rackham Graduate School:
If possible, talk to your academic advisor and look for answers to the following questions:
What is my research question?
What kind of literature review is appropriate for my research question?
How much literature should I use?
How will I make sure that I find all appropriate information that informs my research?
How will I evaluate the literature to include trustworthy information and eliminate unnecessary or untrustworthy information?
How should I organize my literature? What citation management program is best for me?
What steps should I take to ensure academic integrity?
Where can I find writing and editing help?
Where can I find I find formatting standards? Technical support?
What citation style should I use?