ITCS 2600 Computing Literature: Thematic Organization

ITCS 2600 Computing Literature: Thematic Organization

Questions:

Identify  an  area  or  topic  of  the  computer  science  field  and  prepare  a  literature  review  that analyzes and discusses it in-depth. You will also be required to complete an Ignite talk on your topic (Details in Ignite talk presentation).  
 
A literature review is much more than a list of separate reviews of articles and books. They are common and very important in the sciences. A literature review is a critical, analytical summary and synthesis of the current knowledge of a topic. It should compare and relate different theories, findings, and so on, rather than just summarize them individually. It should also have a particular 
focus or theme to organize the review. It does not have to be an exhaustive account of everything published on the topic. But it should discuss all the more significant academic literature important for that focus. You are required to write a stand-alone literature review. 
 
• Stand-Alone Literature Review Articles 
 
These provide an overview and analysis of the current state of research on a topic. The goal is to evaluate and compare previous research on a topic to provide an analysis of what is currently known and to reveal controversies, weaknesses, and gaps in current work—pointing to directions for future research. 
 
• You can find examples published in countless academic journals. There is a well known journal series called Annual Reviews: http://www.annualreviews.org/ specifically devoted [Type here]  

Identify  an  area  or  topic  of  the  computer  science  field  and  prepare  a  literature  review  that  analyzes and discusses it in-depth. You will also be required to complete an Ignite talk on your topic (Details in Ignite talk presentation).  
 
A literature review is much more than a list of separate reviews of articles and books. They are common and very important in the sciences. A literature review is a critical, analytical summary and synthesis of the current knowledge of a topic. It should compare and relate different theories, findings, and so on, rather than just summarize them individually. It should also have a particular 
focus or theme to organize the review. It does not have to be an exhaustive account of everything published on the topic. But it should discuss all the more significant academic literature important for that focus. You are required to write a stand-alone literature review. 
 
• Stand-Alone Literature Review Articles 
 
These provide an overview and analysis of the current state of research on a topic. The goal is to evaluate and compare previous research on a topic to provide an analysis of what is currently known and to reveal controversies, weaknesses, and gaps in current work—pointing to directions for future research. 
 
• Stage One: Annotated Bibliography. As you read articles, books, etc., on your topic, write a brief critical synopsis of each. After going through your reading list, you will have an abstract or annotation of each source you read. Later annotations are likely to 
include more references to other works since you will have your previous readings to compare. But at this point the goal is to get accurate critical summaries of each individual work.  

• Stage Two: Thematic Organization. Find common themes in the works you read and organize them into categories. Usually, each work in your review can fit into one category or sub-theme of your main theme. But sometimes a work can fit in more than one. Write some brief paragraphs outlining your categories, how in general the works in each category relate to each other, and how the categories relate to each other and to your overall theme.
 
• Stage Three: More Reading. Based on the knowledge you have gained in your reading, you should have a better understanding of the topic and of the literature. You have discovered specific researchers who are important to the field or methodologies you were not aware of. Look for more literature by those authors, on those methodologies, etc. You may be able to set aside some less relevant areas or articles which you pursued initially. Integrate the new readings into your literature review draft. Reorganize themes and read more as appropriate.  
• Stage Four: Write Individual Sections. For each section, use your annotations to write a section which discusses the articles relevant to that theme. Focus your writing on the theme of that section, showing how the articles relate to each other and to the 
theme, rather than focusing your writing on each individual article. Use the articles as evidence to support your critique of the theme rather than using the theme as an angle to discuss each article individually.  
• Stage Five: Integrate Sections. Now that you have the thematic sections, tie them together with an introduction, conclusion, and some additions/ revisions in the sections to show how they relate to each other and to your overall theme.
 
More specifically, here are some points to address when writing about works you are reviewing. In dealing with a paper or an argument or theory, you need to assess it (clearly understand and state the claim) and analyze it (evaluate its reliability, usefulness, validity). Look for the following points as you assess and analyze papers, arguments, etc. You do not need to state them all explicitly, but keep them in mind as you write your review: 
 
• Be specific and be succinct. Briefly state specific findings listed in an article, specific methodologies used in a study, or other important points. Literature reviews are not the place for long quotes or in-depth analysis of each point. 
 
• Be selective. You are trying to boil down a lot of information into a small space Mention just the most important points in each work you review. 
 
• Is it a current article? How old is it? Have its claims, evidence, or arguments been superseded by more recent work? If it is not current, is it important for historical background? 
 
• What specific claims are made? Are they stated clearly? 
 
• What support is given for those claims? 
 
o What evidence, and what type (experimental, statistical, anecdotal, etc) is offered? Is the evidence relevant? Sufficient?  
o What arguments are given? What assumptions are made and are they warranted? 
 
• What is the source of the evidence or other information? The author’s own experiments, surveys, etc? Government documents? How reliable are the sources? 
 
• Does the author take into account contrary or conflicting evidence and arguments? How does the author address disagreements with other researchers? 
 
• What specific conclusions are drawn? Are they warranted by the evidence? 
 
• How does this article, argument, theory, etc, relate to other work? 
 
However, these are just the points that should be addressed when writing about a specific work. It is not an outline of how to organize your writing. Your overall theme and categories within that theme should organize your writing and the above points should be integrated into that organization.

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