Literature Review Directions


Literature Review Directions

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  • You may have one or more articles.  Adjust your organization to that number.  I want ONE unified review.  Do not write a separate response for a 2nd article.  You may have the option to read additional articles for extra consideration, but you then must write MORE.  IE, still a detailed evaluation of each article, NOT a superficial response to more articles.
  • What you write must be about the reading(s).  I do NOT want an essay on the topic that the article is about. I want a response to/evaluation of the reading(s). (I don’t want an essay of your opinion with just an occasional reference to the article(s) if they support your point. I want a review of the article(s) and how they prove THEIR point, tied together with a theme.)


Find unifying theme for the articles.  What is that “Big Paper” about? Set up the article(s) – What is the topic? Why is it relevant? Why is it important?  Why are we reading THESE articles? 

In the BODY paragraphs:

  1. Identify and Summarize the reading: Title, author, premise/thesis.  What is the thesis?
  2. Choose a key or essential argument, statistic, etc. from the reading and explain it. What are the most important ideas,  theories, or data sets? Are there references to other theories/studies that are important (Dunning-Kruger effect, Hofstader, Gilens and Page…)?
  3. Evaluate the argument.  Strengths? Weaknesses? What would you add? What did author fail to see?    Focus on the big picture,  not minutiae.
  4. Repeat b and c for same article and then subsequent articles repeat a,b,c.  The more depth the better.


Evaluate the sum of the arguments.  What is the impact/importance of this data?  Does it MATTER (what are  the implications if true)?  Why/Why not? How does it contribute (or not) to our understanding of the main subject? Connect back to your specific questions and ideas in the intro.  Restate them.  Then “close the circle” and provide answers or insights based on the readings.  

  • Try to apply ideas and theories presented in the Textbook!
  • Should have paragraph developmental sequence.  Typically should be 7 paragraphs as pretty much a minimum. DOUBLE SPACE.  12 point font. You do not need title info at top – Canvas gives me your name, the date submitted and it is automatically submitted under the correct assignment.  
  • YOU “frame” your discussion based on ideas generated from the class chapters or current events. Try to make CONNECTIONS between the article and what is going on in American politics, but the FOCUS is the ARTICLE!

TEMPLATE (Use this structure until you master the process- fill in blanks with article specifics):Intro:

“Power is the key explanatory variable in political science.  Power is defined as….  It is important to get a fuller picture of power because of… Questions around the concept include…  IN order to get a better picture of how power is manifested in the US, I will examine the following X articles, 1., 2., and 3 (with title and author).  This examination will give us better insight into ideas of….” (Power here is an example of what you COULD use.  You MAY use it if it fits, but the preference is that you come up with your own unifying idea.  DO NOT use power for every response.)


Par 1 “The 1st article is “…” by …  In this article, author 1 examines…  One of the interesting arguments they make is … supported by Figure 1, which shows…  The data seems to support the idea that… which the author suggests is caused by… this analysis seems valid, because  …

Par 2  “A second interesting argument in the Author 1 article is…, which also addresses the concept of …  As author shows in Chart 2… The data seems to support the idea that… which the author suggests is caused by…  this analysis seems valid, because  …

Par 3 “The 2nd article is “…” by …  In this article, author 2 examines…  This is similar to Author 1, but takes the approach/focuses on… One of the interesting arguments they make is … supported by Figure 1, which shows…  The data seems to support the idea that… which the author suggests is caused by… this analysis seems valid, because  …

Par 4 “Lather rinse, repeat.”

Par 5 “Lather, rinse.”


“The preceding article(s)/analysis confirm/reject the idea that Power is…  Each article took a slightly different approach but all/none seemed to agree on cause/effect of phenomenon being examined (power, etc).  When one examines the questions of… (connect back to ideas/themes/questions from you Intro, restate them), one could argue that… which is consistent with author X, which is inconsistent with author X.  I would argue that…  This article is valuable in identifying trends or problems with…. It is valuable/not valuable to understanding why/how/when/what x happens/is happening…  The implications of this to/for the World/US/Democracy/Society/Progress are….”


NicholsHow America Lost Faith in Expertise and Why That’s a Giant ProblemRequired #2:

(Example of an expert that we may be ignoring) Jeffrey C. Isaac  

How Hannah Arendt’s classic work on totalitarianism illuminates today’s America

#3 How a Populist Destroys America.pdf

Online version: How a Populist Destroys America

Part of:  The Battle for the Constitution   The Atlantic


Chronicle of Higher Education

Truth as Commodity

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