How to Create a Literature Review Outline

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A literature review outline presents the logical structure of your research paper's topic leading to your thesis statement. It includes the research objectives, related research, implications and conclusions. Your literature review should establish the foundation and justification for your study by demonstrating knowledge on the current state of the field and how your study fits into that picture. The logical flow of your argument should be reflected in the writing of the four parts of your outline.

Introduce Your Research Topic

  • Your introduction provides background information on the relevance of your topic within its field. This should lead logically to the objectives and thesis statement of your literature review. For example, in a study on determining the influences of hidden curriculum on student development using a curriculum evaluation model, the introduction may proceed this way:

    I. Introduction

    • (first point) The hidden curriculum plays a definitive role in forming the learned curriculum of schools….
    • (second point) However, studying the hidden curriculum is devoid of a concrete methodology by which it can be examined….
    • (objectives) The purpose of this study is to determine the influences of the hidden curriculum on student development using....

    You can briefly mention the major sections of your review so that by the end of your introduction, the reader has a sense of its structure.

Organize Information into Themes

  • Organize the information you have gathered into themes that will make up the sections summarizing the main points of your literature review. Present the evidence, theories and related research leading to your thesis statement in as many themes and points as needed. Make sure to note your references in citations.

    For example:

    II. Section I: (subtitle) Overview of the Definitions of Hidden Curriculum

    • (first point) (Jackson, 1984)
    • (second point) (Apple, 2001)

    III. Section 2: Discussion of Different Curriculum Evaluation Models

    • (first point) (Baker, 1982)
    • (second point) (Brown et al., 2011)

    IV. Section 3: The Hidden Curriculum’s Relation to Student Development

    • (first point) (Stuart, 1998)
    • (second point) (Hill et al., 2008)

Discuss Research Implications

  • Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the literature and texts you have mentioned. Identify the gaps in this research that your study will address.

    V. Implications

    • (first point) Most curriculum evaluation models do not look on the hidden curriculum….
    • (second point) Student development is influenced greatly by the hidden curriculum but is not given due attention….

Discuss Your Conclusions

  • Summarize the main themes you have presented in relation to your argument or thesis statement. Include your overall findings and recommendations for improving understanding on your topic as resolutions or suggestions for future studies.

    VI. Conclusion

    • Major conclusions include….
    • Future studies may be conducted on….

References

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