Introducing the Literature Grid: Helping Undergraduates Consistently Produce Quality Literature Reviews
20 Pages Posted: 2 Feb 2012 Last revised: 14 Feb 2012
Date Written: 2012
The literature review or critical review essay is an increasingly common component of the undergraduate political science research paper. Unfortunately very little has been written discussing how such a literature review should be crafted (Knopf 2006). As new and more powerful search engines become available to our students, the difficulty of conducting a search of the relevant literature has been displaced by the complexity of organizing and effectively summarizing the large amount of literature found. This article introduces the Literature Grid, a heuristic device I have developed and provide my students in my undergraduate research design classes that simplifies the crafting of a quality literature review. No longer am I burdened by reading student literature reviews that are either mild modifications of annotated bibliographies or a jumble of references that have no direction or synthesis. By using the Literature Grid my students are able to analyze the relevant literature on their chosen topic based on important causal inferences and variable impacts. My students’ literature reviews have become a meaningful segment of their research and have enlivened their independent research to further the field. This article will outline how a Literature Grid is created, what it can and cannot do for your students and provide a practical, easy-to-follow heuristic device that will inspire your students’ critical review essays to summarize and engage the current literature.
Keywords: Literature review, review of literature, integrative review, literature grid, literature grids
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