Bob Cropf

Term Paper for PPS 612

In class stuff on February 19, 2009 at 12:33 PM

The following is based on the University of Santa Clara’s Guide to Literature Review ( There are others equally good available on line. However, the grading rubric for the term paper is based on this document.

Do not confuse this with a book review, a scholarly literature review is a survey of relevant peer-review journal articles, books and other scholarly sources (e.g. dissertations, conference proceedings) on a particular issue, area of research, or theory. The literature review describes, summarizes, and critically evaluates each work in order to provide an overview of the relevant scholarship in a particular area of research.

It is useful to think of a good lit review as consisting of several steps. Each one is a vital component. Structurally, the 4 major sections of a lit review include:

1.Problem statement—what is the subject, topic or field being examined      and what are its key issues?
2.Literature search—gathering the relevant materials relevant for the topic under consideration
3. Critical evaluation—which literature contributes the most to an understanding of the area of research?
4. Analysis and conclusion—what are the chief findings and conclusions of the body of scholarship under consideration

Additionally, lit reviews need to provide the reader with the following:

1. A comprehensive overview of the scholarly issue being considered; the lit review’s author should have specific objectives in mind that he/she wishes to accomplish in the lit review
2. A division of the pertinent literature into topics, categories or some other classification (e.g. lit in support of a particular position, those against, and those with entirely different points-of-view)
3. A consideration of each work in terms of their similarities and differences with the others
4. An evaluation of the literature that makes the strongest case for their position, have the most convincing analysis and findings, and contribute the most to their area of research in terms of advancing understanding of a particular topic or theory.

The purpose of the literature review in this course is that it will serve to further your thinking about a particular topic, area of research, and theory and may, later on, constitute either part of or an entire chapter in your dissertation. This, in addition, to focusing on the public finance aspect or aspects of your proposed research.

In sum, your lit review should have each of the following main elements. First, show how each work contributes to an understanding of the area of research, topic or theory under consideration. The works are arranged topically rather than organized by author as in an annotated bibliography. Second, your review should also show how each work is related to the others in the literature review. Third, discuss differing interpretations of the theory, data and analysis used in previous research as well as shed light on any gaps in, previous research. Fourth, identify areas of prior scholarship to avoid overlapping too much and to indicate the way forward for further research. Later when you do your dissertation, your lit review will place your work in the context of existing literature.

Josh N


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