Purpose: To give you tools and strategies for developing a topic and finding the resources for your Literature Review Paper.
Assignment: This literature review assignment will allow you to explore a particular concept in-depth, identify three recent research papers (published in the last 5 years) related to this topic. Your literature review will focus on these three papers, including other references that help you understand the background and history of the topic.
The paper should focus on three primary research (not review) articles from peer-reviewed journals that focus on the same topic.
When researchers begin to think about a topic to study, they spend some time finding out what has already been studied in their area of interest. They search for articles and reports that provide information on the history, background, key findings, related issues, and knowledge gaps related to their research.
Understanding what information is already out there on a topic helps the researchers focus their own study while placing it in the proper context of current and past research. This process is the literature review. The researchers are literally reviewing what has already been written on their topic.
Usually, when they are publishing the results of their own study in a journal article, the researchers begin with a short literature review which provides background and context for the readers, helping them to understand the relevance and importance of the current study.
Watch these videos for further explanations:
You may also want to look at PLoS One's Ten Simple Rules for Writing a Literature Review to get ideas to how to approach this assignment and things to think about as you work
It may be tempting to jump right into search for your three research articles, but you will have much greater success if you spend some time reading secondary sources that help you understand the background and "big picture" around your potential topic. Your textbook, a review article, or a subject encyclopedia are great places to get started.
(be sure to check the reference list of any review articles you find - these are great sources for primary research articles):
Biology Subject Encyclopedias:
Strategies for determining paper topic that is specific enough to research without being too narrow: