The paper shall be a comprehensive literature review of a well-defined and well-researched area in
communication. The paper shall organize the literature, draw conclusions about what knowledge claims we can
make from that literature, and provide insightful recommendations for future research.
A comprehensive treatment of our knowledge in a particular area is NOT a detailed review of each article cited.
Rather, there are overviews of groups of articles/books/chapters, accompanied by a critical assessment of the
conclusions we can and cannot draw from the literature as a whole, noting the individual pieces of research
that stand out as having made significant contributions.
In addition to summarizing the state of our knowledge on a particular topic, a literature review forms the basis
of any piece of empirical research. With permission of the instructors for COMM 650, you may use this paper
as the foundations for your COMM 650 research project.
Maximum length: 25 pages, plus references and any figures or tables
Your paper should follow this structure:
Problem Statement: A concise statement of the area in which literature is to be surveyed and why you set
your limits where you do.
An Example: This review will survey the literature that examines the process of organizational socialization
of nondominant cultural members in dominant culture organizations. It is limited to nondominant cultural
members to provide a focus that differentiates the process from that of generalized organizational
socialization/assimilation, which is beyond the scope of this paper.
Process: I strongly recommend that you informally run your topic by me. If your interest area is out of my
areas of expertise, you should also discuss it with a department faculty member who has that expertise. It
is very important to choose a topic area with enough literature to be worthy of a ‘state of the art’ review
while at the same time keeping the size of that literature manageable.
Significance: A brief statement that explains why it is important to assess our knowledge about this topic. Be
sure to address both theoretic and practical significance.
Organization: A brief statement of how you have chosen to organize the literature and why (e.g., by type
[theory vs. empirical research]; by publication date; by author; by subtopic; by theoretic tradition; or a
combination of these or others)
Critique: A brief statement of the ways you critically assess the literature and why you did it this way.
Review: The actual review. Do NOT organize by article, but rather by the knowledge we get from the articles.
Your paper is trying to answer the question, “What do we know about . . . ?“
Conclusions: A brief summary (not a re-statement) of the conclusions you can draw. In this part of the paper
you will be assessing “what we know” about your topic. What kind of knowledge do we have/lack and why?
Future: A brief statement of recommendations for future research. In what general directions are you
interested in seeing this literature progress and why? Explain how this research can contribute to knowledge
that enhances theory and/or solves problems facing society.
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