Assignment 2 | Theoretical Framework and Literature Review

You will take the research questions and, using books, journal articles and other sources of information, determine a theoretical framework and then begin to build an argument, based on the literature, for the gap in the research that your work will fill. You will work in the second chapter/section of your proposal template, updating references and other pertinent information.  This assignment includes a peer review portion – see Peer Evaluation page under Assessment for details.

As you read widely in your topic areas, begin to organize your reading.

For submission of the assignment you will include your full template with the second chapter/section completed as follows:

  1. a sub-section titled Theoretical Framework (s). In this sub-section you will begin with the following statement: The proposed research is guided by the following theoretical framework(s): ……  Then list them. You will then provide a paragraph or two describing each theoretical framework (with references) and identifying why it is a ‘good’ choice for your topic area.
  2. a sub-section titled Literature Review.  This sub-section will contain the bulk of your work for this assignment and will have sub-, sub-sections as you deem appropriate.

The theoretical framework and literature review will be between 2,250-2,750 words, and is worth 35% of your final grade. You are expected to adhere to APA standards for citations and references, to back up your statements with appropriate academic literature, and to expand your references to include at least 15 academic references in total for your work to date.

 The bulk of this assignment is the literature review. Your purpose is to convey to your reader what knowledge and ideas have been established on a topic, and what their strengths and weaknesses are.

What is a review of the literature?

A literature review provides an account of what has been published on a topic by accredited scholars and researchers. Occasionally you will be asked to write one as a separate assignment (sometimes in the form of an annotated bibliography), but more often it is part of the introduction to an essay, research report, or thesis.

In writing the literature review, your purpose is to convey to your reader what knowledge and ideas have been established on a topic, and what their strengths and weaknesses are.

As a piece of writing, the literature review must be defined by a guiding concept (e.g., your research objective, the problem or issue you are discussing or your argumentative thesis/project goals). It is not just a descriptive list of the material available, or a set of summaries.

Besides enlarging your knowledge about the topic, writing a literature review lets you gain and demonstrate skills in two areas:

  1. information seeking: the ability to scan the literature efficiently, using manual or computerized methods, to identify a set of useful articles and books.
  2. critical appraisal: the ability to apply principles of analysis to identify unbiased and valid studies.

A literature review must do these things:

  1. be organized around and related directly to the thesis or research question you are developing;
  2. synthesize results into a summary of what is and is not known;
  3. identify areas of controversy in the literature;
  4. formulate questions that need further research.

Ask yourself questions like these:

  1. What theories am I approaching my research from?
  2. What is the specific thesis, problem, or research question that my literature review helps to define?
  3. What type of literature review am I conducting? Am I looking at issues of theory? methodology? policy? quantitative research (e.g., on the effectiveness of a new procedure)? qualitative research (e.g., ethnographic studies )?
  4. What is the scope of my literature review? What types of publications am I using (e.g., journals, books, government documents, popular media)? What discipline am I working in (e.g., nursing psychology, sociology, medicine)?
  5. How good was my information seeking? Has my search been wide enough to ensure I’ve found all the relevant material? Has it been narrow enough to exclude irrelevant material? Is the number of sources I’ve used appropriate for the length of my paper?
  6. Have I critically analysed the literature I use? Do I follow through a set of concepts and questions, comparing items to each other in the ways they deal with them? Instead of just listing and summarizing items, do I assess them, discussing strengths and weaknesses?
  7. Have I cited and discussed studies contrary to my perspective?
  8. Will the reader find my literature review relevant, appropriate and useful?

Ask yourself questions like these about each book or article you include:

  1. Has the author formulated a problem/issue?
  2. Is it clearly defined? Is its significance (scope, severity, relevance) clearly established?
  3. Could the problem have been approached more effectively from another perspective?
  4. What is the author’s research orientation (e.g., interpretive, critical science, combination)?
  5. What is the author’s theoretical framework (e.g., psychological, developmental, feminist)?
  6. What is the relationship between the theoretical and research perspectives?
  7. Has the author evaluated the literature relevant to the problem/issue? Does the author include literature taking positions she or he does not agree with?
  8. In a research study, how good are the basic components of the study design (e.g., population, intervention, outcome)? How accurate and valid are the measurements? Is the analysis of the data accurate and relevant to the research question? Are the conclusions validly based upon the data and analysis?
  9. In material written for a popular readership, does the author use appeals to emotion, one-sided examples, or rhetorically-charged language and tone? Is there an objective basis to the reasoning, or is the author merely “proving” what he or she already believes?
  10. How does the author structure the argument? Can you “deconstruct” the flow of the argument to see whether or where it breaks down logically (e.g., in establishing cause-effect relationships)?
  11. In what ways does this book or article contribute to our understanding of the problem under study, and in what ways is it useful for practice? What are the strengths and limitations?
  12. How does this book or article relate to the specific question I am developing?

(Drawn from writing.utoronto.ca) 

Final Notes

A literature review is a piece of discursive prose, not a list describing or summarizing one piece of literature after another. It’s usually a bad sign to see every paragraph beginning with the name of a researcher. Instead, organize the literature review into sections that present themes or identify trends, including relevant theory. You are not trying to list all the material published, but to synthesize and evaluate it according to the guiding concept of your thesis or research question.

Value: 35%

Submit: to the Assignment 2 dropbox in Moodle.

Course Learning Outcome/Assessment Criteria Excellent (A+ to A) Proficient (A- to B+) Satisfactory (B to B-) Unsatisfactory (F)
Citation and APA format All citations and APA format are correct. Most citations and APA formatting are correct. Some citations and APA formatting are correct. Few citations and APA formatting are correct.
Style, Grammar, Spelling All aspects of grammar and spelling are correct. The style of language and form of communication used are suitable and extend the discussion. Most aspects of grammar and spelling are correct. The style of language and form of communication used are mostly suitable and extend the discussion. Some aspects of grammar and spelling are correct. The style of language and form of communication used are somewhat suitable and somewhat extend the discussion Significant spelling and grammar errors. The style of language and form of communication are not suitable and do not extend the discussion.
Theoretical Framework Choice of theoretical framework is clearly stated. Description of theoretical framework(s) is comprehensive, clearly stated, and backed up with appropriate and relevant academic sources. Clear statement is made regarding the fit of the theoretical framework(s) with the chosen topic. Clear statement is provided which outlines what evidence will be sought through the research/consulting project with regard to the theoretical framework(s). Choice of theoretical framework is clearly stated. Description of theoretical framework(s) is mostly comprehensive, mostly clearly stated, and backed up with appropriate and relevant academic sources. Mostly clear statement is made regarding the fit of the theoretical framework(s) with the chosen topic. Mostly clear statement is provided which outlines what evidence will be sought through the research/ consulting project with regard to the theoretical framework(s). Choice of theoretical framework is somewhat clearly stated. Description of theoretical framework(s) is somewhat comprehensive, somewhat clearly stated, and mostly backed up with appropriate and relevant academic sources. Somewhat clear statement is made regarding the fit of the theoretical framework(s) with the chosen topic. Somewhat clear statement is provided which outlines what evidence will be sought through the research/ consulting project with regard to the theoretical framework(s). Choice of theoretical framework is not clearly stated. Description of theoretical framework(s) is not comprehensive, not clearly stated, and not backed up with appropriate and relevant academic sources. Clear statement is not made regarding the fit of the theoretical framework(s) with the chosen topic. Clear statement is not provided which outlines what evidence will be sought through the research/ consulting project with regard to the theoretical framework(s).
Literature Review Demonstrates excellent development of each idea and focuses on relevant details and a synthesis of pertinent research. Synthesizes in-depth information from relevant sources representing various points of view/ approaches. Shows significant depth of analysis in explicitly and critically evaluating literature sources for reliability, credibility, relevance and authority. States a conclusion that is a logical extrapolation from the literature and clearly synthesizes the most significant points from the literature. Demonstrates strong development of each idea and focuses on mostly relevant details and a synthesis of pertinent research. Synthesizes in-depth information from relevant sources representing various points of view/ approaches. Shows mostly significant depth of analysis in explicitly and critically evaluating literature sources for reliability, credibility, relevance and authority. States a conclusion that is a mostly logical extrapolation from the literature and mostly synthesizes the most significant points from the literature. Demonstrates some development of each idea and focuses on somewhat relevant details and a synthesis of pertinent research. Synthesizes in-depth information from relevant sources representing various points of view/ approaches. Shows some depth of analysis in somewhat explicitly and somewhat critically evaluating literature sources for reliability, credibility, relevance and authority. States a conclusion that is a somewhat logical extrapolation from the literature and somewhat clearly synthesizes the most significant points from the literature. Does not demonstrate development of each idea and doe not focus on relevant details and a synthesis of pertinent research. Does not effectively synthesize in-depth information from relevant sources representing various points of view/ approaches. Does not show depth of analysis in explicitly and critically evaluating literature sources for reliability, credibility, relevance and authority. Does not state a conclusion that is a logical extrapolation from the literature and does not synthesize the most significant points from the literature.
Analysis Statements are backed by evidence from the literature and information is discussed, not just stated. Supporting information is summarized but not synthesized/ connected with other perspectives. Synthesis is minimal or lacking. Supportive information is stated and not summarized or backed by supporting evidence from the literature. Information is stated but lacks relevance and connection to the position statement. Statements are not backed by evidence from the literature.