[Of the five sections of a political science research paper, the structure of Section Two is the most variable. The heading in Section Two will be specific to the content of the chapter, as it is related to the research topic and proposed study. However, the following elements should be included in Section Two, regardless of the subsections.
Section Two is a presentation of a review of the literature. The researcher accomplishes three things during the process of developing Section Two:
a) the researcher develops subject matter expertise in the topics relating to his/her research,
b) the researcher identifies and substantiates a gap in the body of knowledge (your topic) that will be addressed by the study, and
c) the researcher develops a conceptual framework which informs the research design.
Section Two shall contain the following content (although headings may vary):
The introduction to Section Two tells the reader what the chapter is to be about, and tells the reader how the chapter will be organized. According to APA sixth edition, this section should not have a heading.
The researcher presents and discusses key literature related to his/her topic and makes the connection between these and his/her research topic. The sections in the Review and Discussion of the Literature should demonstrate the researcher’s mastery of the literature in his/her area(s) of study. The subsections throughout Section 2 should be descriptive of the material being shared.
*A synthesis of the literature should also be included. The synthesis is a purposeful organization of information that reflects the researcher’s critical thinking that supports the direction that this specific research takes. The synthesis provides the foundation for the conceptual framework which is a narrative (and visual, if desired) picture of how the literature examination and subsequent critical thinking combine to form a “whole” which represents the researcher’s intellectual approach to the study. As a result, it is clear to both the researcher and readers how the topics discussed are seen in relationship to each other from the unique perspective of the researcher, and supported by the literature. This synthesis may be presented in a variety of ways, but often is topological or chronological, or both.]
[This section should discuss, in narrative form, how the researcher sees the relationships between, and orientation of, the theories, models, constructs, contexts, researcher assumptions, etc. explored during the literature review and how these fit together in the researcher’s thinking. This provides the researcher with an opportunity to craft his/her own unique approach to the research or to confirm that their proposed research matches existing research by presenting a coherent logic for the proposed research. It is highly recommended that a graphic representation accompany the narrative in this section. If using another author’s conceptual framework (because it completely matches yours) please attribute the framework. If using a graphic from another author that completely matches yours you must have written permission from the copyright holder to reprint their material.
The researcher provides a summary of the key elements of Section Two and provides a brief transition to Section Three.