Literature Synthesis/Literature Review
Purpose: To gain an understanding of the existing research on your inquiry topic and build your original
research on that foundational knowledge. Doing so:
• Prevents us from duplicating the research of others.
• Demonstrates our familiarity with the topic and scholarly context.
• Credits others for the research that they have conducted that contributes to our better
understanding of the issue.
• Helps us identify gaps or inconsistencies in other research that we might address.
• Guides us to discover information that has yet to be found.
• Develops a theoretical framework and methodology for our research.
• Positions us in relation to other researchers and theorists.
Process: Conduct an extensive search of peer reviewed journal publications to identify 16 – 30 pieces of
academic literature related to the inquiry topic and questions. In some cases, this search is expanded to other
closely related topics.
• Select the most reliable, recent, and relevant sources for the literature review from peer reviewed
• Include only works published in the last ten years. An exception can be made for material that
provides a theoretical foundation.
• Identify the connections and relationships between the sources and the inquiry topic and
questions. Look for:
o Trends and patterns (in theory, method or results): do certain approaches become more or
less popular over time?
o Themes: what questions or concepts recur across the literature?
o Debates, conflicts and contradictions: where do sources disagree?
o Pivotal publications: are there any influential theories or studies that changed the
direction of the field?
o Gaps: what is missing from the literature? Are there weaknesses that need to be
• Choose one organizational structure to organize the reviewed literature:
Chronological – the development of the topic over time
Thematic – recurring central themes; organize literature review into subsections
that address different aspects of the topic
Methodological – compare the results and conclusions of various studies that
emerge from different approaches (qualitative vs quantitative research, empirical
versus theoretical scholarship or sociological, historical, and cultural sources)
Theoretical – organize literature by v theories, models, and definitions of key
• Compose a 10 – 25 page Literature Synthesis
Product: An academic paper in which you compare, contrast, evaluate, analyze and summarize 10 – 20
of the most important pieces of peer reviewed literature. In the paper, you make a case for how the
literature connects to/supports your inquiry topic.
• Check the All in One Schedule for dates to post for peer review and final submission
• Turn in to Submit Work Here
VERBITSKY EDLD 693 – MS EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP
Literature Synthesis/Literature Review – Success Criteria
Assignments meeting all criteria will meet standard.
Formatting/Style APA 6th or 7th Edition (if choosing 7th Edition follow guidelines for professional papers)
• Ten – twenty pages in length
• Double-spaced on standard-sized paper (8.5″ x 11″)
• 1″ margins on all sides
• Font consistent throughout the paper (only APA recommended font size and type)
• Title page
• Page header/running head includes paper title and page number
• Correct use of section headings throughout
• Appropriate citation of resources throughout
• Properly formatted reference list
Formal Academic Writing (See Clarity of Writing and Writing Technique below)
Topic sentence identifies the broad inquiry topic
Following sentence/s state what is included/excluded in the review (parameters)
It is clear why the research area is important, problematic or relevant to the research site.
Final sentence/s signal list of key topics from the selected sources that will be addressed in
the paper. This is directly connected to the organizational structure.
Flow of the
Organizational structure is appropriate to the topic, clear and thoughtful.
Sections/topics are divided to reflect the organizational structure.
There is a logical flow from one section to the next, providing a sense of coherence.
Information is organized going from general ideas to specific details and evidence.
Coverage of Content
All literature is from peer reviewed journals.
All works are published in the last ten years. (An exception can be made for material that
provides a theoretical foundation.)
Literature reviewed is related to the inquiry topic.
Content is covered in depth using details and examples.
Connections between literature reviewed and the inquiry and focus questions are clear.
Connection to the inquiry topic, inquiry question or a focus question(s) is made in each
Related Mindscapes are woven throughout the paper.
VERBITSKY EDLD 693 – MS EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP
Clarity of Writing
• Formal and unbiased
o Active voice
o Little if any use of personal pronouns
o Free of slang, contractions, clichés, and conversational phrases.
o Arguments and claims are supported by evidence.
o Research is presented accurately and consistently across different texts, so
that studies can be objectively assessed and compared.
• Clear and precise
o Language is specific. Writing clearly and directly conveys your meaning.
• Focused and well-structured
o Inquiry topic is clear throughout.
o Paper reflects structure at three levels: the whole paper structure,
paragraph structure, and sentence structure
• Rules of grammar, punctuation citation, and stylistic conventions are consistently
o Writing numbers
o Verb tenses
o Spelling and punctuation
A Synthesis of Ideas
and Application to
Conclusion summarizes the key findings from the literature reviewed
• Emphasizes the significance of the learning as it relates to your inquiry topic
• Highlights how your research addresses gaps and/or contributes new knowledge to
• Discusses how you have drawn on existing theories and methods to build a
framework for your research.
Citations/References: Information cited is from academic databases and libraries
Correct formatting of in-text citations, endnotes, footnotes
Separate reference page is included at the end of the paper
APA formatting of reference page is correct