The abstract is a one-paragraph [200-300 words] summary of what will be presented in the paper. The content that is required for the abstract includes [1-2 sentences each component]:
o Brief description of the purpose and major variables of original study
o Brief statement about how the proposed study will differ [new variable, population, qualitative part]
o A summary sentence listing the independent and dependent variables to be addressed in the literature review
o Recall that references are not generally used in the abstract since it is a summary of the work that you will present
Here you will introduce the research problem that your proposed study will address. It will consist of the following components:
o Scope of the research problem:
Describe what is known about your topic that validates the need for the research study.
What statistics can you provide about the magnitude of the problem?
What are the known concerns about your research topic? For example, if your proposed study is about cancer and quality of life, what is the incidence and prevalence of the cancer? What are the general concerns about low quality of life?
o You do not need to go into deep detail about your variables in the introduction [since you will do that in the body of the literature review], but a general introduction that calls attention to the problem that your research study will address is the focus here.
o Description of the original study: Describe your original study including the purpose and the variables that were studied. Also include a brief description of the population. This is a more detailed description than what was in the abstract, but you do not need to address findings here since the findings will be discussed in the body of the literature review.
o Description of your proposed changes: Name your name three changes and then summarize your independent (antecedents) and dependent (consequences) variables. As part of your discussion of your population change, provide a rationale for your new population choice.
o Refer the reader to your figure [that you created in the Let's Practice section of this module; see example below] to see how each variable will be measured. The figure should be placed at the end of the paper after the conclusion and before the references [APA calls for placement after references, but we prefer that it be placed after conclusions for convenience].
Review of Current Literature
Here is where you will present the findings of the 15 or so research studies that you have collected about your study variables. This section should be about 5-8 pages. You will have subheadings that specify each of the relationships that will be explored in your study. The focus will be to review and critique relevant literature to establish the significance of the proposed study. Review the related research in a separate section for each relationship according to the major variables for the proposed study [original study variables + new variable]. You are building a case to support your study in this section and the argument should flow logically. There is no standard for how to organize your subheadings, but here are some basic principles to follow:
o Look at your independent vs. dependent variables and note which one has the most variables. Use those as your subheadings and then the content of that section will address the relationship between that variable and the variables in the other category. For example, for the study about the effect of demographics, social support, and prenatal anxiety on maternal-fetal attachment [shown in example figure above], the subheadings would be Demographics, Social Support, and Prenatal Anxiety. Within each section, the discussion would address the effect of that subheading onMaternal-Fetal Attachment.
o If you have addressed a particular variable throughout other sections, there is no need to have a separate section on that variable. In the above example, there would be no need for a separate section on maternal-fetal attachment since you will have discussed it in the three sections that correspond to each IV. Also, you would have discussed the significance of maternal-fetal attachment in your introduction as well.
Variable include: Type of studies location/setting, research problem, purpose of the study/ aim/objectives, research question, hypotheses, key concept/variables, design type, sample, data source, data analysis, finding, recommendation, strengths, limitations. Next logical research question
o The focus of the literature review is on the findings of the 15+ studies that you have selected. Do not get distracted by discussions about the use of various instruments or tools that were used in the other studies. Discussions about challenges with conducting the studies might be distracting as well. What were the key findings of each study and what do those findings illustrate in regards to the relationships that you will examine in your proposed study?
o Use your subheadings to keep you organized. Avoid discussing variables that are different from the subheading. If you are finding that you are discussing information that fits under another subheading [because the findings about each are difficult to differentiate], it is likely that those two subheadings can be combined into one section. For instance, if you have anxiety and depression as IVs in separate sections, you might be able to combine them in one section since they are often studied together and are closely related.
In the conclusions, you will summarize the key points from your literature review. What do you want to emphasize to the reader? This is not a place to introduce new research findings, but should tie together the arguments made in your literature review. For instance, you might highlight any gaps or inconsistencies in the research you presented. Then, you will describe how your proposed study will add to current knowledge, either by addressing gaps in the research or inconsistencies. What will your new study add to current knowledge about the topic? What "new twist" does your proposed study add?