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Find the Funnels: Deconstructing Literature Reviews
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Literature review; reading academic literature; writing; analytic thinking; lab project

How to Cite

Walters, Kyla. 2020. “Find the Funnels: Deconstructing Literature Reviews”. TRAILS: Teaching Resources and Innovations Library for Sociology, October. Washington DC: American Sociological Association.


Literature reviews often resemble funnels. They begin with a broad theoretical frame and gradually narrow towards specific concepts about which the author/s systematically inquire. Students need to understand the composition of a literature review before they tackle crafting one. Annotating scholarly works and then deconstructing the literature reviews,...

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Subject Area(s):
Research Methods
Resource Type(s):
Assignment, Class Activity
Class Level(s):
Any Level
Class Size(s):

Usage Notes

See attached.

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Learning Goals and Assessments

Learning Goal(s):

  1. 1. Annotate at least two (and up to four) peer-reviewed journal articles within one subfield.
  2. 2. Evaluate the literature reviews of two of the annotated peer-reviewed journal articles to recognize the components of its analytic funnel.
  3. 3. Compare the funnels across two articles to recognize that there are multiple ways to construct a cohesive literature review that moves from broad ideas to specific concepts.

Goal Assessment(s):

  1. 1. The produced annotations include both summary and analysis of the articles.
  2. 2. Students render visible the funnels of the literature reviews by creating a concept map and written narration of the movement from a theoretical framework to more specific concepts.
  3. 3. Written paragraphs explicitly discuss the similarities and differences across the literature reviews they deconstructed, recognizing how authors can develop diverse pathways to inquire within one subfield.

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