Literature Review Paper Outline Template


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FW472 LIMNOLOGY [Spring 2011]
Dr. Soranno
A literature review paper reviews and synthesizes the current understanding of a particular topic. It is a very
useful way to become up to date on the state of knowledge and the research that has been done in a particular
research area. Writing a review paper is good practice for synthesizing and organizing a lot of information into
a concise product (i.e. a short written document). Reviewing and summarizing the literature is a critical skill for
successful scientists. In particular, this skill is an important component of identifying research questions and
writing research proposals. When writing such a paper, scientists rarely, if ever, just sit down and write a first
draft and turn it in. Rather, they write outlines and multiple drafts, editing each draft themselves, in addition to
having others edit their papers. You will practice this process with your paper.
You must do library research to collect journal articles (and books) to write your paper. Information from the
Internet will not be accepted, unless it is from a journal that is published or available on the web. You should
write your paper for an audience that is relatively familiar with limnology (such as a peer in this class; i.e., you
do not have to define epilimnion). However you should not assume that the reader has read the papers that you
have read. In addition, you should define any new terms or jargon that have not been discussed in class or
course readings.
There will be three main steps involved in writing this paper (each graded separately):
[ 10 pts]
[ 70 pts]
[ 100 pts] FINAL PAPER
[ 180 pts]
Total (36% of your total grade in the course)
(1) Topic choice = You will be given a list of ~20 possible paper topics. You must rank your top five choices
from this list and turn it into me. I will then assign topics to students based on their choices while avoiding
excessive overlap among students.
(2) Paper outline and article summaries= Prior to writing the outline, you will search the literature, and
identify the articles that you will review. Using these articles, you will: (1) write an outline of your paper; and
(2) write a summary of the main points from each individual article and an explanation of why you think each
article will help address your topic. At this point, you MUST have all of the citations that you are going to use
for the paper (at least 7 articles). Thus, you must have planned on doing most of your literature searching and
journal article reading BEFORE this assignment is due.
(3) Final paper = I will assume that you have revised and edited your paper already yourself – several times!
This SHOULD NOT BE A FIRST DRAFT. I also encourage you to ask a friend/ classmate to read over your
paper and give you feedback before you turn it in (see format below). The final paper should be 5-6 double
spaced text pages.
(1) Topics due:
Thurs, February 3
- Topics assigned
Tues, February 8
(2) Paper outlines and article summaries due:
Thurs, March 3
- returned to you
Thurs, March 17
(3) Final paper due:
Thurs, April 14
- returned to you
Thurs, April 28


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