Literature Research Paper
A literature research paper is a text that uses the ideas and opinions of scholars to support the writer's own literary interpretations and analyses. In this way, most literature research papers are different from articles that are primarily intended to be overviews of scholarly ideas on a particular topic. Many academic articles are essentially syntheses of scholarly opinions. Most literature research papers will not be this way, unless their objective is to provide an overview of a particular literary movement, style, or period. Literature articles that are about a particular text should always focus on the writer's own interpretations and analyses, and use research to supplement those ideas.
Because a literature report should be centered in the writer's own analysis, it is best to begin a literature research paper by developing a thesis about the particular text before doing extensive research. This will help the writer to develop a truly original idea before being influenced by the ideas of others. Essentially, then, a literature report should begin as a literary analysis. The writer should perform this analysis and develop his or her thoughts about the text before beginning research.
The research component of a literature research paper may be extensive; however, it should still be supplementary to the writer's own ideas. The writer may find scholars who share his or her interpretation; it is possible that the writer may not. Either way, it is important that whatever ideas are incorporated from other sources are used to support the writer's own ideas, and not included to speak for the writer. Even if the writer finds a source that shares his or her basic ideas about a text, it is unlikely that the writer and the source have developed the exact same reasons for that interpretation. This would be a good research point to include in the writer's paper, because it indicates how the same general interpretation can be supported in different ways. The writer can also use research that advances an interpretation in opposition to the writer's own, and then discuss why the evidence the source writer includes could perhaps be used to support elements of the writer's own interpretation. The writer should never assume that he or she should only use research texts that are in accord with his or her own ideas, as it is often more fruitful to read and incorporate the ideas of those who think quite differently.
Within any single paragraph or section of a literature research paper, there should never be more quoted or paraphrased material than there is original text. In general, a good balance is 1/3 research, 2/3 original material. This will help to ensure that the article is based in the writer's own ideas and words and not in the ideas and words of other scholars.
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