Write a Literature Review

Thesis Proposal &
Literature Review
Elements of a Thesis Proposal
Title Page
Signature Page
Copyright Page
Acknowledgement (for defense copy)
Table of Contents
Introduction (lit review)
Proposed Analyses
Important Elements to Know
• Timetable
• Chairperson preference about drafts
• When to submit proposal to committee
• Submitting protocol for IRB approval
• Departmental requirements
Departmental Requirements
The student develops a thesis or research proposal in
consultation with his/her research chairperson.
Copies of this proposal are distributed to the
student's Research Committee at least two weeks
prior to the date the proposal will be formally
presented to the research committee. Should any
Graduate Faculty members not on the student's
committee wish to receive a complete copy of the
proposal, he or she should notify the student's
chairperson, and the student will supply the
requested proposal.
• Must be experimental in nature.
• Must be in compliance with Department of
Psychology Research Policy.
• Must be approved by HS-IRB
• Must be submitted to Research Committee and
orally defended.
• Any problems should be discussed with chairperson,
and committee if s/he deem it necessary.
• Chairpersons will try to return drafts tot he student
within two weeks. Summer is an exception.
• Proposal and defense meetings should be scheduled
not less than two weeks and, where possible, not
more than three weeks from the date of submission
to the committee
• Paper should be typed according to APA style and
rules for theses set forth by the Graduate School.
• Defense is open to the faculty and graduate students
of NSU.
• After defense of the thesis, the student's committee
will determine if the student's defense was
acceptable. The student must then submit four copies
of the paper and the original signature page to the
office of the Dean of Graduate Studies and Research:
(2 for Grad School, 1 Dept, and 1 for Chairperson).
• Authorship
Thesis Requirements of the
Graduate School
• Continuous enrollment
• Thesis proposal with signatures must be
submitted to the Dean of G.S. at least 1
semester prior to graduation.
• Student must defend completed thesis.
• See handbook or graduate school web page
for specific requirement for paper and
formatting. (Margins are 1 in. except left
margin is 1.5 in for binding.)
• Length of Lit Review
• What are your strengths & weaknesses in
writing the thesis?
• Identify what you foresee your barriers will be
in completing the thesis.
• What can you do now to begin managing the
• Where are you now in the process?
Basics of Getting Started
Research Questions
Preliminary Hypotheses
Preliminary Analyses
• Independent - A manipulated variable in an
experiment or study whose presence or degree
determines the change in the dependent
• Dependent - The observed variable in an
experiment or study whose changes are
determined by the presence or degree of one
or more independent variables.
Clearly Identifying Variables
• What is the operational definition?
• How does your measure matter to the
• How many variables do you have?
• How does it relate to the proposed analysis
Operational definition
• A very clear and very precise explanation of
the items being measured or the terms that are
used to ensures comprehensible knowledge of
the terminology and the ability to operate a
process, procedure, or service and/or collect
data consistently and reliably.
• What are your measures assessing?
• Is it a related term or is it measuring the
concept you intend it to measure?
• What score does it provide and how do you
interpret that score?
Develop a Research Question
• Consider research in which you have been
• Avoid personally loaded topics
• Use recent literature
• Use other theses and dissertations cautiously
Research Questions
Three main parts:
1. a concise statement of the question that your
thesis tackles
2. Justification that your question is previously
3. discussion of why it is worthwhile to answer
this question.
Put the research question in
researchable form
• Phrase the question as a question
• Make sure the question suggests a relationship
to be examined
• Make sure the question is empirically testable
• Can sugar improve memory?
• What are practitioners’ perceptions of the goal
setting process and the strategies they use?
• Is brain development affected by drug or
alcohol use?
• What causes some children to be bullies?
• Can changes in parent relationship, teacher
relationship, or peer groups affect self-image?
Declarative sentences that conjecture a
relationship between two or more
It is a specific, testable prediction about
what you expect to happen in your study.
Research Question→Hypothesis
Can sugar improve
Is the best predictor of
criminal violence
personality, exposure to
violence, or parenting?
College students who ingest
2 grams of sugar before
studying for a
memorization task will
perform better than college
students who do not ingest
The most predictive model
will include authoritarian
parenting style, exposure to
violence, and antisocial
features with antisocial
features contributing the
most significant predictive
Rationale for Hypotheses
• Can come from two sources
• Previous empirical research
• Related research
• Theory
• Or both
Hypothesis Checklist
1. Do your hypotheses suggest the relationship between 2 or
more variables?
2. Do your hypotheses specify the nature of the relationship?
3. Are your hypotheses stated in the present tense?
4. Do your hypotheses imply the research design to be used to
study the relationship?
5. Do your hypotheses indicate the population to be studied?
6. Are your hypotheses phrased as the level at which you wish
to generalize your findings (i.e., do they talk about constructs
rather than specific measures?
7. Do your hypotheses stipulate relationships among variables
rather than names of specific statistical tests?
8. Are your hypotheses free of other unnecessary
methodological detail?
9. Do you have a manageable number of hypotheses (e.g., 5-6 or
Proposed Analysis
How it all comes together
# of independent variables
# of independent variables
Hypotheses - associational or difference?
Will your measure(s) produce the data
necessary to run the analyses needed to
evaluate your hypotheses?
Literature Review
• The literature review is a concise summary and
evaluation of research, organized by a topic, that
is related to your objective, thesis, or experiment.
• organize information
• synthesize results
• identify controversy
• develop questions
Reviewing the Literature
• Locate relevant literature
• Critically read the literature
• Identify themes
• Identify strengths and weaknesses of individual
• Identify strengths and weaknesses of field as a
• Collect photocopies or notes
Reviewing the Literature con’t.
• Prepare to write
• Investigate length and format
• Make a preliminary outline
• Limit the scope of your answer
• Organize the literature you will cover
• Include page allocations
• Write the review
• Write the introduction
• Write subsections
Getting Started
• Outline
• Funnel Shape
• What is emphasized
• Dependent variable?
• Independent variable?
• Hook at the beginning
• Next paragraphs should cite previous research
• Those who had the idea first
• Those who have done the most recent and
relevant work
• Then explain why more work is necessary
• Include purpose of your study with research
What belongs in the introductory section(s)
of your paper?
A statement of the goal of the paper: why the study was
undertaken, or why the paper was written. Do not repeat the
Sufficient background information to allow the reader to
understand the context and significance of the question you
are trying to address.
Proper acknowledgement of the previous work on which
you are building. Sufficient references such that a reader
could, by going to the library, achieve a sophisticated
understanding of the context and significance of the
Explain the scope of your work, what will and will not be
A verbal "road map" or verbal "table of contents" guiding
the reader to what lies ahead.
Is it obvious where introductory material ("old stuff") ends
and your contribution ("new stuff") begins?
Good Literature Review Writing
• It’s not a series of abstracts
• What does it mean to analyze and synthesize
• Organization is a must
• Headings and subheadings
• Transitions
• Paragraph Formation
Transitions help convey information clearly and
concisely by establishing logical connections
between sentences, paragraphs, and sections
of your papers.
• Types of Transitions
• Between sections
• Between paragraphs
• Within paragraphs
Paragraph Formation
• Topic Sentence
• Supporting Sentences
• Concluding Sentence
My hometown is famous for several amazing natural
features. First, it is noted for the Cane River, which
is very wide and beautiful. Also, on the other side of
the town is Wheaton Hill, which is unusual because
it is very steep. The third amazing feature is the Big
Old Tree. This tree stands two hundred feet tall and
is probably about six hundred years old. These three
landmarks are truly amazing and make my
hometown a famous place.
Good Writing Skills
• Common Grammar Errors
• Use of Tense
• Reducing gender bias
Common Grammatical Errors
• Subject-verb agreement
• Each of the authors disagree with this theory.
• Agreement between pronoun and antecedent
• The individual is likely to develop symptomatology over
time, which will be reflected in their level of depression.
• Parallelism
• The subjects were instructed to sign the informed consent,
to complete the packaged, and ask any questions.
• Run-on sentence
• John left before Sue could make her point, so she was
angry, she chose to stay silent, however, rather than
express her true feelings and risk hurting his.
• Passive voice
• Each of the authors disagrees with this theory.
• The individual is likely to develop symptomatology
over time, which will be reflected in their level of
• The subjects were instructed to sign the informed
consent, to complete the packaged, and to ask any
• John left before Sue could make her point, so she
was angry. She chose to stay silent, however, rather
than express her true feelings and risk hurting his.
Use of Tense
• Past Tense
• The researchers studied four factors.
• Past Perfect Tense
• Smith had identified the factor before Jones
hypothesized the relationship.
• Present Perfect Tense
• Several studies have shown that there are multiple
contributing factors.
• Present and Future
• Avoid in lit review
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