Describe the overall topic you have been investigating, why it is important to the child abuse and neglect field, and why you are interested in the topic.
Identify themes and trends in research questions, methodology, and findings. Give a “big picture” of the literature.
Review of Literature
Overview of characteristics of the theme (commonalities, differences, nuances)
Sub-theme – narrow but grouped findings related to the themeStudy 1 (Research question(s), Methods/Participants, Related Findings)
Study 2 (Research question(s), Methods/Participants, Related Findings)
Study 3 (Research question(s), Methods/Participants, Related Findings)
Sub-theme – narrow but grouped findings related to the themeStudy 4 (Research question(s), Methods/Participants, Related Findings)
Study 5 (Research question(s), Methods/Participants, Related Findings)
Study 6 (Research question(s), Methods/Participants, Related Findings)
, etc., etc., with other findings that fit Theme A; studies can be repeated if multiple findings fit under more than one theme. However, no need to re-write methods/participants in detail (just enough to remind the reader of the study).
Theme B – follow a, b, c, and so on from above
Keep repeating with themes
Conclusion: An evaluation/critique of the existing literature. Write several paragraphs.
What are the contributions of this literature to the field?
What are the overall strengths?
What are the overall weaknesses?
What might be missing?
What are some next steps for research? The next steps should explicitly address how to “correct” for strengths, weaknesses, and gaps.
A major criterion is the timeliness and appropriateness of sources of information. But, DO NOT DEPEND ON THE INTERNET ALONE – use regular library sources and journals, books, and even primary sources and field observation, if you can do so! DO NOT USE WIKIPEDIA-USING WIKIPEDIA AS A SOURCE IS CONSIDERED A FATAL FLAW FOR YOUR PAPER.
If the issue is a very current “hot topic,” you should also include references to public opinion and media sources that may be critical to addressing “timeliness”–i.e., what do actual public or decision-makers know and think about the issue at hand right now!
The focus should be on being concise, precise, and balanced – as if you’re writing as a “policy advisor” or analyst for your “boss” or for a decision-making body that “needs facts and options” to consider before making a decision, e.g., Congressional Committee, Board, professional association, or client of some type.
Try to avoid jargon as much as possible–remember your audience is usually NOT specialists but educated, busy decision-makers or the general public. Again, you are not trying to impress them with how much you know, but help them understand enough to make an informed decision.
Remember that in policy writing, the goal is NOT to be exhaustive or overly idealistic or theoretical, but realistic, practical, concise, persuasive, balanced, and applied. The goal is to present “doable” options that might lead to action or a change in strategy on the issue or problem you’re addressing.
Reference carefully and use diverse sources: academic journals, the Internet, TV/Radio, interviews with people, newspapers. References must be in APA format. A minimum of eight references are required (since you will be including the internet, radio, newspaper, etc.).
Enhance readability via careful use of bullets, headings, icons, text-boxes, and other graphical aids to better understand the key facts and issues.
When you use acronyms or abbreviations, spell them out or reference them in footnotes (unless you’re sure it is common knowledge).
Use judicious charts, graphs, maps, pictures to illustrate your key points! Be careful to give credit and cite appropriately (copying graphics from the Web without giving the original URL is inappropriate). List Figures consecutively and provides a short, concise caption.
Follow a standard Style Manual such as APA, and give appropriate credit, e.g., citations, references. Most important–be consistent and follow the same style.