Sherry Wynn Perdue, Oakland University
Michael Reich, St. John’s University
In the next installment of Issue Zero, we will share the first part of our literature review about the literature review. Please read the beginning of this story below.
“[A human] is essentially a story-telling animal. [S/he] is not essentially, but becomes through [her/his] history, a teller of stories that aspire to truth. But the key question for [humans] is not about their own authorship; I can only answer the question ‘What am I to do?’ if I can answer the prior question ‘Of what story or stories do I find myself a part?’” (MacIntyre, 1981, p. 216).
Like all other human beings, researchers are storytelling creatures who know our world and represent its meanings via narratives with their requisite framing devices and organizational logic. One story novice researchers struggle to tell comes in the form of the literature review, a narrative that must effectively represent “what came before” and lead to “what can be” through a series of disciplinary specific moves.
This forthcoming article—one part literature review and many parts practitioner guide—is the product of many conversations—filled with “ah ha” moments, false starts, unwieldy threads, and recurrent themes—between two authors at vastly different stages in their careers. Sherry, a writing center director, faculty member, researcher, and co-editor, has spent numerous hours over the last decade seeking, reviewing, and innovating resources devoted to the literature review, a topic strikingly absent from her own doctoral education in the humanities, where the so-called “literature” is dispersed throughout rather than siloed within one section of a text. Michael, a doctoral student and graduate student reviewer, recently composed his first literature review for a doctoral seminar. Together as members of the editorial team, we have labored to compile a tangible, audience specific guide to the literature review, one that anticipates the needs The Peer Review’s (TPR) readers and potential contributors, many of whom, like Michael, are new to the genre. In this way, we advance the publication’s mission to encourage collaboration and to facilitate mentorship.
Before we proceed with “the telling,” we must acknowledge that the story you will find in this contribution to Issue Zero 2.0 is intentionally incomplete. We will publish in installments, addressing each element of Boote and Beile’s (2005) Literature Review Scoring Rubric, an adaptation of Hart’s (1999) literature review rating system as introduced in Doing a Literature Review: Releasing the Social Science Research Imagination: coverage, synthesis, methodology, significance, and rhetoric. As we add to the existing story, we will find it necessary to revisit those parts that we have already told, thereby allowing us to showcase the recursive nature of literature review construction. Unlike most publications, in which readers see only the product, we enjoin you to collaborate. We invite readers to pose your questions, share your favorite resources, and/or express your understanding of the literature review by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. We will synthesize your questions and feedback into subsequent iterations of this article and fully expect the product that evolves to be tangibly different from the initial draft. Our last installment will include a heuristic for the composition of a literature review, derived from this process, to guide future scholars as they commence writing their own.
Boote, D. N. & Beile, P. M. (2005). Scholars before researchers: On the centrality of the dissertation literature review in research preparation. Educational Researcher, 34(6), 3-15.
Hart, C. (1999). Doing a literature review: Releasing the social science research imagination. London, UK: Sage.