Writing Workshop: Literary Review

This paper is the largest part of the class grade.  We have been working towards it for most of the semester.  All together, this is 40% of the course.

Your review of their work will help them to make a better grade.  Your review of their work may also help you to make a better grade, since you may see places where they are strong that you are weak or places where you could improve as you recommended they improve.

This is not a race to the finish.  Please take the time to make good notes on the papers you are reviewing.



1. Check to be sure there is a reference page.  

Is it labeled References?  

Does it have the running head and page number?

Are there 15 sources?

Go through the paper and see if there are 15 sources in the paper as well.

2. Cover Sheet

See Kennedy’s book, page 1 following page 39.

Does their cover sheet match his?

Is there a running head in the right hand corner along with the number 1?

Does it match the Running head: listed on the page on the left hand side?

Is Running capitalized and head not on the left hand side?

Is the running head itself written in all caps following the “Running head:” label?

Did they skip two or three double spaces to the rest of the wording?

Is the title of the paper there, with all important words capitalized?

Is the wording correct?

Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements


Writing in the Social Sciences 2306

Presented to

Suanna H. Davis, Ph.D.


Their Name

Date turned in

3. Abstract

Do the running head and the number 2 appear in the upper right hand corner?

Is the word Abstract centered on the page?

If the abstract is indented, mark that.  It is incorrect.

If the abstract is right justified, mark that.  It is incorrect.

Is the abstract 120 words or less?  (Count. Yes, they can have more than 100.)

Is the abstract too introductory?  It should presuppose some familiarity with the topic.

Does it include definitions?  It should not.

4. Body of paper, running head

Do all the pages have the same running head?

Does the running head end with an article (the, an) or a preposition (of, to, for)?  It should not.

Does the running head match the running head on the cover page?

Is it written with important words capitalized?

Do the pages all have page numbers?

5. Body of the paper, headings

Please check the headings.

The title of the paper should be centered on the third page.  Important words in the title should be capitalized.

The title in the body of the paper should match the title on the cover sheet.

Other major headings should also be centered and important words capitalized.

Subheadings within a single category should be on the left (no indention) and italicized.  Important words should be capitalized.  If there is a single subheading, there must be at least two subheadings.



1. Body of the paper, not Discussion

Outside of the discussion the following words should not appear:

I, me, my, mine

you, your, yours

If they do, please circle them.

There should be no contractions.

2. Does the reading make sense?

Read through the paper once.  Mark anything you are unsure of the meaning of.  Put a check mark.

Go back through the paper, rereading it.

Are there still places you do not understand what they mean?  Mark those.  Put a star or an *.

3. Did you understand it?

Write a three sentence summary of their work, not looking at their work or their abstract.

This will allow them to see if what they meant to say is what you read.

4. Discussion

Is there a summation in the discussion?

Is there a discussion of what kinds of work is missing?

Is there a “future directions for research” paragraph?

Personal pronouns are allowed in the discussion section, but should be limited to first person singular (for this paper) or first person plural (for a paper done with a collaborator or collaborators).

5. What did they identify?

Did they identify

  • relations,
  • contradictions,
  • gaps, and/or 
  • inconsistencies in the literature?

They should have.  What did they do well?  What are they missing?

6. The main emphasis

The main point of a literature review is “knitting together theories and results from a number of studies to describe the “big picture” of a field of research” (“Writing,” 2004).

How well did they group the works they reviewed?

How well did they discuss the entire field of research?

Which of these could have been improved?  How?

Which of these did they do best?  What was particularly well done?

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