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Literature Review Organization: Chronological Example

The organization of a literature review begins in the introduction. For example, in the introduction of a literature review entitled Development of Social Science Research on Attitudes Towards Gender in America, you would first introduce the topic and what your review hopes to assess:

. . . This literature review will assess the development of research designed to uncover gender attitudes in America during the latter part of the 20th Century. . .

Then state what angle is going to be explored:

. . . As research progressed throughout the 20th century, the methods that social scientists use for measuring these attitudes developed and changed as well. . .

Then, chronologically arrange issues that will be addressed in this review:

Gender stereotypes still exist today, and varying attitudes can be traced over the past fifty years. Survey instruments used to gather data on these varying attitudes have also changed drastically over the course of time.

In the body of this literature review, you would organize the information chronologically, adressing each point (or question) that is being asked for a particular time period:

  • Stereotypes and Survey Instruments of the 1950’s
  • Stereotypes and Survey Instruments of the 1960’s
  • Stereotypes and Survey Instruments of the 1970’s
  • Stereotypes and Survey Instruments of the 1980’s
  • Stereotypes and Survey Instruments of the 1990’s
  • Current Advancements

Then, write a conclusion that explains the significance of your findings:

Although the survey instruments used in the 1950’s and 1960’s developed an obvious bias when surveying Americans regarding gender attitudes, the 1970’s brought about great change. Today social scientists are more careful than ever about testing the quality of a survey instrument before using it on the general public.

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