Skip to Main Content

CYC825 Independent Study

Your ultimate guide to the resources you need for your Independent Study.

Assignment options

A literature review is an integrative summary of published research on a specific topic. The literature review seeks to synthesize what is already known about the topic, and sometimes, explicitly state what is not known, or not well understood.

The following are the key characteristics of a literature review:

  • It contains a clear research question/problem that it is trying to answer (i.e. What are the experiences of Indigenous children in the child welfare system in Canada?).
  • It is not a list describing or summarizing one piece of literature after another. 
  • It is organized into sections that present themes or identify trends, including relevant theory related to the research question.

Crucially, a literature review is not an argumentative essay or position paper. You are not trying to argue any particular point, rather, you are trying to make connections about common themes found in the literature that is published on your topic. This requires you to search for, gather, read and analyze/dissect the articles and readings you find that are related to your topic. 

Watch this video to learn more about literature reviews:

Jensen, E. (Academics). (2017). An introduction to literature reviews [Video]. SAGE Research Methods.

Watch this video to learn more about the steps that you should take when doing a literature review. 

White, C. (Academic). (2018). How to Conduct an Effective Literature Review [Video]. SAGE Research Methods.


If you opt to write a position paper, you will be making an argument for a particular intervention, policy, or stance that you feel strongly about. How you feel about an issue is important, but the strength of the argument that you make will be determined by the quality of the evidence that you provide to support that argument. In order to effectively sway the reader to your side, you will need to make use of sources such as:

  • Statistics
  • Results from research studies (i.e. peer reviewed papers)
  • Policies
  • Reports from relevant organizations such as Children's Aid Society or the Association for Child & Youth Care Practice