Literature Review (minimum of 10 empirical articles) • Establish the context by providing a brief and balanced review of the pertinent published literature that is available on the subject. All articles must be public opinion/perception research on the student’s specific topic. Students are encouraged to have the instructor of record approve the articles. • The key is to summarize (for the reader) what we knew about the specific problem before you did your experiments or studies. This is accomplished with a general review of the primary research literature (with citations) but should not include very specific, lengthy explanations that you will probably discuss in detail later in the Discussion. The judgment of what is general or specific is difficult at first, but with practice and reading of the scientific literature, you will develop e firmer sense of your audience. In the mouse behavior paper, for example, you would begin the Introduction at the level of mating behavior in general, and then quickly focus to mouse mating behaviors and then hormonal regulation of behavior. Lead the reader to your statement of purpose/hypothesis by focusing your literature review from the more general context (the big picture e.g., hormonal modulation of behaviors) to the more specific topic of interest to you (e.g., role/effects of reproductive hormones, especially estrogen, in modulating specific sexual behaviors of mice.) What literature should you look for in your review of what we know about the problem? Focus your efforts on the primary research journals – the journals that publish original research articles. Although you may read some general background references (encyclopedias, textbooks, lab manuals, style manuals, etc.) to get yourself acquainted with the subject area, do not cite these, because they contain information that is considered fundamental or “common” knowledge within the discipline. Cite, instead, articles that reported specific results relevant to your study. Learn, as soon as possible, how to find the primary literature (research journals) and review articles rather than depending on reference books. The articles listed in the Literature Cited of relevant papers you find are a good starting point to move backwards in a line of inquiry. Most academic libraries support the Citation Index – an index that is useful for tracking a line of inquiry forward in time. Some of the newer search engines will actually send you alerts of new papers that cite particular articles of interest to you. Review articles are particularly useful because they summarize all the research done on a narrow subject area over a brief period of time (a year to a few years in most cases). A good literature review will contain the following items: 1. A title page including your name, social security number and an interesting title 2. An introduction – what is your topic specifically? 3. Answer the question “why?’ Make a case for studying your topic. Include prevalence rates and statistics. 4. Summarize the literature in a succinct and coherent manner. Organize the literature by topic, chronologically or theoretically. Do not just summarize each article separately
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