A literature review entails finding, reading, evaluating, and synthesizing current research on a specific theory or topic. You will use at least five academic journal articles in addition to the textbook. The articles used for this assignment must adhere to the guidelines explained in the course materials.

COM 207
Literature Review
100 points
A literature review entails finding, reading, evaluating, and synthesizing current research on a
specific theory or topic. You will use at least five academic journal articles in addition to the
textbook. The articles used for this assignment must adhere to the guidelines explained in the
course materials. Your literature review will focus on one specific theory covered in the course
This assignment requires the following sections: 1) Introduction; 2) Theoretical Discussion; 3)
Synthesis of Scholarship; and, 4) Conclusion. Each is detailed below.
This assignment must be submitted through the Literature Review Safe Assignment link before
midnight Arizona time on the due date. Technical problems or time zone differences do NOT
excuse late submission. Emailed assignments cannot be accepted.
1. Introduction (no more than ½ -1 page)
Establish the purpose and significance of your literature review. Include each of the following:
• Attention getter.
• Rationale: The significance and importance of your selected theory to communication
scholars, practitioners, and/or the general public. Rationale also includes gaps in the
research that the review of literature is suggesting needs to be addressed.
• Areas of research you will be investigating. Include the specific theory and the overall
thesis or theme for the literature review. You thesis should be the overarching argument
you are making for a future study (of which you are using the current literature as
• A structural preview of the forthcoming essay that outlines the various sections for the
• Transition to the next section of the paper.
2. Theoretical Discussion (1 – 1 ½ pages)
Provide a brief description of the theory as well as its relevant terms and concepts. Include
each of the following:
• Accurately note the paradigmatic assumptions of the theory – in other words, does the
theory attempt to predict and explain (objective), describe and interpret (interpretive), or
uncover unjust communication practices (critical).
• Outline the primary assumption of the theory
• Outline the key terms/topics that the theory seeks to explain or describe that are relevant
to your review of the research that will follow
• Specifically connect the theory’s primary assumption to the topic of the research you are
reviewing. For example, one of the key topics that might drive a review of literature on
social penetration is self-disclosure. After defining how the theory outlines selfdisclosure above, here you would indicate to the reader the specific way self-disclosure is
taken up in the literature you are reviewing and how you will be using that literature to
indicate to your reader what still needs to be studied about self-disclosure through your
treatment of the literature
Make sure to draw on the textbook for this section of your paper. You will reference the specific
chapter on your theory as well as explanations of the applicable paradigm
as described in chapters 1-3. All of the information required for this section is clearly
explained in the textbook.
3. Synthesis of Scholarship (2-3 pages)
This is the body of your paper. The purpose of this section is to not only summarize what is
known about the research you are using. It must also synthesize the research. Synthesizing
research means putting together the studies you use and explaining how the studies relate to
each other. This is extremely important and requires you choose an organizational pattern around
which you will organize the research. This is also accomplished by focusing on a specific topic
explored by the research and then using the research as evidence for how that topic has been
explored by a theory and arguing for how it still needs to be studied based on what is, and is not
currently in the literature under review.
This section will also provide evidence for your evaluation of the theory and suggestions for
future research you will suggest in the conclusion.
Introduce the synthesis section by explaining the organizational scheme you are using and why
it is appropriate for the topic. A good organizational scheme provides the framework to write a
coherent explanation of the literature review, leads to helpful transitions between studies, and
clearly shows relationships between the different studies.
DO NOT simply list one article after another without connecting them together. Doing so will
result in a low grade for this part of the assignment. There should be citations from at least two
different studies in each paragraph. Structure this section so studies are presented in an
organized and coherent manner. DO NOT copy and paste the sections in your annotated
Use one of these organizing schemes and explain why it is appropriate for your topic:
Chronological: organized by historical progression in terms of time and how the
progression of the theory/research has evolved.
Problem-cause-solution: organized so that the review moves from a problem to a cause
to a solution.
General-to-specific: examines broad-based research first then focuses on specific
studies that relate to topic.
Known-to-unknown: examines current literature about problem then identifies at the
end what is still not known.
Comparison-and-contrast: shows how research studies are similar to and different from
one another.
Specific-to-general: tries to make sense out of specific research studies so general
conclusions can be drawn.
Synthesizing research means explaining commonalities and differences between the articles
you have chosen. Amongst other things, consider the variables the studies investigated in
quantitative research; consider the aspects of communication (for instance which dialectics) are
being studied in qualitative research. For rhetorical research consider the kinds of texts being
studied. In all cases consider the communication setting, the kinds of communication being
discussed, and the methods used. Also consider how some studies address gaps left in other
studies. In short, describe and explain how the different studies relate to each other.
Each article will have several things in common: they all use one theory, they all frame an
empirical research study, and they all investigate a phenomenon appropriate for that given
theory. A good synthesis moves beyond these common connections to engage how a particular
topic is treated by a theory and how that topic has changed over time (chronological), how it is
generally understood and then how it is specifically examined in a particular way (general to
specific), or how it is understood similarly or differently in the research (compare and contrast).
4. Conclusion (no more than 1 page)
The conclusion should include all of the following information:
• Evaluate the studies you reviewed by explaining their strengths and limitations.
• Suggest directions for future research. This should have guided your review of literature
– in other words, the synthesis should have used the literature as evidence for the study
you propose here as a direction for future research. Suggestions for future research
might include new topics,

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