Purpose: A big part of doing new research is determining what has already been done and how that applies to your work and/or how your work fits into that. Without this, it is impossible to explain the significance or contribution of your own research. What have others said about your case (empirical) and topic/question (conceptual/ theoretical)? To give you a head start on the “literature review” part of your paper, you will submit an annotated list of relevant secondary sources that is introduced by a critical overview of the literature. In this assignment, you will identify and discuss the 9-12 most important sources for your topic.
Format: Single-spaced 12 point font with standard margins. To cover 9-12 sources plus the overview, it should be approximately 3-5 pages, single-spaced.
The memo consists of two components:
1) Overview: Write approx. 3 paragraphs that take a step back and attempt to describe these works as a body or field (or possibly two fields that your project intersects). How do the works (explicitly or implicitly) converse with one another? Do they offer debates, competing explanations or frameworks? Do they offer insight into different angles of a phenomenon? Can you identify gaps, puzzles, un-identified linkages across literatures, new potential applications, etc.? Where do you (tentatively) see your project fitting into this conversation or field? You are welcome, but not required, to include diagrams that map out the field. (Note: You will probably write this after the source list, but put it first in final draft of the memo that you turn in.)
2) Source List: List each source with a full citation and a 2-4 sentence (or bullet point) annotation that (a) summarizes the relevant findings or argument of the work and (b) identifies how it relates to your project. The 9-12 sources listed must include not fewer than 8 works that are not listed on the syllabus as course readings. It should also include any course readings that are substantially relevant to your project. These readings can be academic journal articles or academic books by scholars about relevant research, but not news articles or popular media publications (i.e. Malcolm Gladwell’s The Tipping Point does NOT count, but the source research Gladwell cites – like Mark Granovetter’s journal articles on social networks – definitely DO count).
- The Source List should be organized substantively (grouped by topic or perspective) instead of in alphabetical order.
- Please note that 9-12 items is a minimum; you may read and cite as much relevant literature as you would like in your reading list and final paper (but in this assignment try to focus on the core of literature that is most relevant to your empirical case and/or conceptual topic).
- Also note that it may not be necessary to have read the entirety of a book or article to list and discuss it for this assignment. For the purpose of this assignment, you may be able to sufficiently glean the main ideas and relevance of a work by its abstract or introduction.
- All project memos are required. For late memos, 1/3 letter grade will be taken off for each day past the deadline. So for example, a paper originally meriting an A- that is turned in between 12pm on the 26th and 12pm on the 27th would receive a B+, if turned in by 12pm on the 28th, a B, etc. No exceptions will be made without prior arrangement or proof of illness. If you have a reason to need more time, please talk to the instructor before the assignment is due.
Sources: number & appropriateness (20%)
Annotations: clear grasp of main ideas and relevance (40%)
Overview: cogent description of field(s) and explanation of relationships among sources, including own project (40%)