Writing Your Literature Review Summer 2020

A.   Know what the assignment is.  A literature review is a review of recent peer-reviewed journal articles on a selected topic in anatomy and/or physiology that is part of one of the systems studied this semester in your anatomy and physiology course.

1.    Minimum number of peer-reviewed sources: Three or more. Textbooks, web sites, or other non-journal articles are not peer-reviewed sources. Peer-reviewed articles from scientific journals are the only type of acceptable source for information used in this assignment.

2.    How current must the sources be?  Publications from one of the following years are acceptable for this assignment:  2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.  Older sources are “out-of-date” for scientific purposes and your assignment is to review the “current” state of scientific knowledge on your topic. 

3.    Type of writing: integrative and synthetic.  This means you need to relate what different scientists have found out about your topic so that you can compare, contrast, and relate the content of your articles to each other.  It is not enough to summarize the three articles (but that may be a helpful first step as you begin the writing process).  You need to note patterns, assumptions, gaps in present knowledge, different approaches to a question, or ideas for future research.

4.    Audience: college students like yourself.  Define any terms that a typical college student would find unfamiliar in a concise statement.

5.    Page requirement: Approximately five pages, not including the title page and the literature cited page.  Doing a good job of handling the content is more important than a specific word or page length.  Papers shorter than 4 full pages, not including the title page and the literature cited page, are not acceptable for this assignment. Do not submit short papers for review or for a grade.

6.    Font and spacing: Use Times New Roman 12 font with double spacing.

B.   Narrow your topic.  Term paper topic and three peer reviewed articles you are considering using as sources for your paper are due to the instructor no later than beginning of class on  This needs to be typed and submitted to the proper dropbox.  The following items need to be included:

a. name of student

b. the course name, number, and section letter

c. date assignment is due (June 4)

d. a minimum of 3 peer-reviewed journal articles listed in APA format

        APA format in this course must include:

        1. Names of all authors (if you cannot find the author, it is not a peer-reviewed journal article and is unsuitable to use as a scientific reference in this course).

        2. Year of publication (if you cannot find the year of publication, the article is unsuitable to use as a scientific reference in this course).

        3. Title of journal article (check APA style on use of upper and lower case letters in the title).  Do not use italics, quotation marks, or colored ink.

        4.  Name of scientific journal in italics

        5.  Volume of journal in italics. If the source has the issue number of the journal, please include that but remember it is NOT italicized.

        6.  Page numbers on which the article can be found in the published journal.

        7.  The first 6 items immediately above are REQUIRED.  If you cannot find this information, move on to a different reference for your paper.  The DOI (digital object I.D.) is optional for references in this class and would be in addition to the format items required above.  It does not substitute for any of the 6 required items above.

Before you submit your chosen topic for approval by the instructor, it is important that you check the peer-reviewed sources of information on your subject.  The tendency is to pick a broad topic like “diseases of the cardiovascular system.” One cannot scratch the surface of such topics in approximately 5 pages. Contact the reference librarians (Stacey McKenna, Janell Verdream, Katie Blocksidge, or John Crissinger) in the Warner Library for assistance in locating peer-reviewed sources.  We have available hundreds of thousands of articles through our CINAHL database (see logging into the CINAHL database under the Writing Assignment tab on Moodle). 

C.    Plan your paper. The paper may begin with an optional  quick review of why the topic is important to you and the reason you chose to research it.  This should take only 1-2 sentences.  As stated earlier, the body of the paper should not be a simple summary of three separate publications.  You need to show that you studied and understood the content of the papers by integrating them through discussion of areas of similarities and differences or through the investigated details of the subject.  Your goal is to bring the articles together to better understand the current status of your chosen topic and to convey this knowledge to your readers.  The body of the paper is the longest part.  The paper should end with a brief conclusion that may include not only a summary of the ideas in your chosen references, but also a mention of where gaps in research exist or what future research is suggested by the status of science at the present time. Avoid using casual terms in your paper that typically are used in oral communication such as “I,” “you,” “your,” etc.  Do not say “your body” but rather use a phrase such as “the body” or “human body.”  Eliminate any jargon or slang.  Make sure to communicate ideas without being overly simplistic or esoteric.  Rephrase anything that is ambiguous or too wordy.  Remember that scientific writing is succinct, saying the most with the fewest words. Choose words to give precise meanings with clarity to avoid confusion.  Do not repeat the same idea.  Scientific writing explains an idea clearly and then moves on to the next idea.  Do not “pad” the paper with unnecessary words.  Grades will involve your ability to convey information clearly without repetition.

D.   Remember to use evidence.  Do not use ANY quotations in your paper since the assignment is to combine ideas from multiple sources by using your own words.  Remember that with our present computer technology, it is very easy for instructors to use available plagiarism detection resources that require only submitting the student’s work.  Within minutes, the instructor receives the returned term paper with areas marked as to the original source of phrases or sentences from the published literature.  You are required to submit your paper to by Thursday July 2. Do not submit an early rough draft but rather submit as close to your final draft as possible to check for areas that need to be changed since they are too similar to published material. The percentage of similarity reported by the analysis of your paper should be less than 20%.  This will allow the use of common scientific terms and phrases in your paper. Your paper should be your own words backed by the research of professional scientists.  Be sure to paraphrase and summarize your sources by accurately representing the author’s information in your own words.  You will be citing your references within the text of your article but NOT quoting them.  Relate the research findings to the content of your review.

E.    Formatting guidelines.  Make sure your paper meets not only content guidelines but also formatting guidelines.  Write your paper following APA (American Psychological Association) format.  This is required.  On the Moodle site, there is a link to the OWL (Online Writing Lab) at Purdue. This site summarizes and illustrates proper APA format.  Do NOT use MLA format for this scientific literature review.  All references must include an internal (in-text) citation as well as be part of the Literature Cited page at the end of the paper.

F.     Rough Draft Review.  Once you have found your articles and written a rough draft, it is time to proofread your paper.  Check for errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, etc. Do not attempt to proofread immediately after completing the rough draft.  The brain needs some separation in time from the work so that errors or rough areas are recognized.  A different set of eyes may find mistakes that you do not see since you know what you intended to say (even if that is not what is written on the paper). A good idea is to have a friend read the paper at this point and critically review areas that are unclear or confusing. You will need to submit your rough draft (as close to the final paper composition as possible) to a writing tutor no later than Thursday July 2, 2020

Writing Support

To schedule an appointment:

To submit a paper for online review:

Remember that just before the due date, the tutors will have very limited time available since many students from different courses will need help at the same time. Submit your rough draft at least a week earlier than the due date to get more assistance from the tutors. Note that if the tutors are too busy to review your paper by the due date, 10% will be deducted from your score. This means you need to submit the draft early before the rush near the due date. It is your responsibility to plan accordingly. The tutors will review your work and offer suggestions for improvement.  They may spend as much as 30 minutes reviewing your paper. For the best result, the rough draft needs to be a minimum of 5 pages and the best job you are able to do on your own. The tutors will NOT write your paper for you.  They will not find every example of an error in your paper. They will discuss areas of potential revision to improve the paper. The writing tutor will send you their form that will summarize their suggestions for improvement.  This signed and dated form must be submitted to the appropriate dropbox by Thursday July 2. An electronic copy of the final paper written in Word is due no later than the beginning of class time on.  This assignment is worth 110 points.

Literature Review Rubric

Grading of Assignment:

The following rubric will be used to assess your literature review.

  Rating in points awarded
20 10 5 0
Articles (current = 2016 or later) Information is gathered from at least 3 current peer reviewed journal articles. Information is gathered from 2 current peer reviewed journal articles. Information is gathered from 1 current peer reviewed journal articles.   Information is gathered from no peer reviewed journal articles.
Body of Paper Organization/Structure (5 pages before the literature cited and after the title page) Well organized, demonstrates logical sequencing and structure. Free of errors in spelling, punctuation, and grammar. Margins, font, and line-spacing are all properly formatted. Words are chosen for their precise meaning and appropriateness. Sentence style is appropriate for a literature review; sentences are varied, carefully structured, and focused. Guides the reader through the chain of reasoning or progression of ideas.   Well organized, but demonstrates illogical sequencing or structure. Weakly organized with no logical sequencing or structure. No organization, sequencing, or structure apparent.
Introduction Aim and scope are given and topic is introduced, rationale is explained. Aim and scope are given and topic is introduced, rationale is not explained. Aim and scope are not given, topic is introduced, and rationale is not explained. Aim and scope are not given, topic is introduced, and rationale is not explained.
Conclusions Detailed conclusions are reached from the evidence offered. Comparisons or contrasts are highlighted. Concisely summarizes major points.   Conclusions are reached from the evidence offered. Not all major points are summarized. There is some indication of conclusions from  evidence offered. No conclusions are made from the evidence offered.
Reference Page/Literature Cited (All articles must have an in-text citation as well as be included in the final reference list.) Information is cited properly and contains no errors in APA format. Information is cited properly but has an error in APA format.. Information is cited, but has more than one error in APA format.. Information is not cited or is cited incorrectly.

 Here are 20 types of errors that I have seen in student papers.  Each error will reduce the score received on the writing assignment. Check your paper that you do not make any of these errors.

  1. Lack of complete sentence structure.
  2. Repeating information: scientific writing is concise.
  3. Lack of subject/verb agreement.
  4. Incorrect use of possessives.
  5. Spelling errors.
  6. Dangling prepositions.
  7. Punctuation errors.
  8. Required separate page for references with heading.
  9. Use of informal terms like “you” or “your” in a formal scientific paper. Do NOT!
  10. Capitalization should be reserved for proper names or beginning a new sentence, not the names of diseases like diabetes or measles.
  11. Incorrect in-text citations.  All in-text citations need to be a part of the sentence to which they refer.  When a period is placed before the citation, it becomes an “orphan” citation that is not a part of any sentence. Periods should go after in-text citations to include them in the sentence composed using the cited information.
  12. Omission of authors. A writer may not choose to use only the name of the first author. Need to use “et. al” when appropriate. See OWL examples.
  13. Literature cited needs to be in ABC order of last names of the first authors of articles.
  14. All sources cited in the paper must be in the literature cited list.
  15. All references listed in the literature cited list must have an in-text citation in the paper.
  16. Names and dates of publications must agree when in-text citations are compared to those in the literature cited list.
  17. Confusing sentence structure or missing needed information.
  18. Lack of submission of documentation that the rough draft has been reviewed by a writing tutor before the deadline date
  19. Lack of submission of paper to Turn It In to check for plagiarism by the appropriate due date for that part of the assignment.
  20. NO quotations are allowed in this paper since the assignment is to put ideas into your own words

Have fun researching a topic you chose.  If you are interested in the subject, you will do a better job of finding information.  Choose an area that stimulates your curiosity.  Remember the library has millions of sources available to it.  Ask the reference librarians or the writing tutors if you need help. Your goal is to make your final paper something of which you can be proud.  It should have significantly contributed to your understanding of the current state of knowledge about your topic.

You should ask any general questions about the paper or particular inquires about an aspect of your topic in class.  I will review and grade the final paper.

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