Introducing the Literature Grid: Helping Students and Researchers Consistently Produce Quality Literature Reviews
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 narrative 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. In addition, once a literature review is created it allows a student a simple database in which to visually organize the literature into a literature map using software such as Microsoft’s Visio or Prezi. A brief explanation of this organization technique is provided.
|Literature Grid Paper.doc||80.5 KB|
|FIGURE I – Literature Grid Example.doc||1.41 MB|
|FIGURE II – Literature Mapping Example.doc||286.5 KB|
|LitGrid Template 2.xls||19.17 KB|