Exemplary Writers

Final Project Literature Review

Assignment 1 – Final Project Literature Review, due Tuesday, Week 2 — August 30

Final Project Literature Review: This assignment is worth 15% of your final grade.

For this step of your final project’s development, you will write a literature review on what you have learned from your research about the communication theory that you plan to use in your final project. You should be able to use the material that you develop here in your final project. Before you tackle this exercise, please make sure you have read the Weeks 1 and 2 course materials.

Objective: To demonstrate a thorough understanding of your communication theory and how it relates to your workplace* communication problem.

Skills: This assignment will help you refine your abilities to execute the following skills for professional-level research:

  • identify and formulate research questions that clearly define and focus what you would like to investigate in school or on the job;
  • locate authoritative scholarly information in library;
  • analyze and assess the relevance of information to a research question, and
  • synthesize new knowledge and establish context for your inquiries.

Background: Please begin this assignment by reading the following information carefully.

A literature review is a critical summary of what subject matter experts have to say about a question or topic. In your case, you will write an account of what scholars have published in peer-reviewed academic journals about the communication theory that you believe is relevant to the communication issue in your workplace.*

Occasionally, you will be asked in school or on the job to write a literature review as a stand-alone report. More often, you will use a literature review to establish the context for a larger business report or business proposal, or for a scholarly report. In our case, your literature review will become a part of your report’s introduction where it will help your readers to understand why the theory is applicable to your workplace communication problem. You will use your literature review to disclose the knowledge and ideas that already have been established on your theory. However, it must not be just a description of the information available. To gain a better understanding of what a literature review is and is not, watch this video from UMGC’s Effective Writing Center: https://youtu.be/2IUZWZX4OGI and the attached PowerPoint on “How to Develop a Literature Review.”

(*Remember, if you are not employed or cannot discuss your workplace, you should be using a communication problem from another organizational setting in which you are involved for your final project, such as school, church, or a community group.)


  1. Before you begin, review Module 1, “Academic Integrity: What It Is and Why It Matters,” Module 3, “Writing Well With Sources: Developing Authentic Synthesis,” and Module 4, “Giving Credit Where Credit is Due: Attribution and Citation,” of the academic integrity tutorials again at https://www.umgc.edu/current-students/learning-resources/academic-integrity/tutorial/index.cfm to ensure you understand why scholars document their research with in-text citations and end-of-text references.
  2. With the brainstorming you did in the Week 1, Topic 1.2, discussion in mind, develop a rough draft of your research question. Your research for this assignment will help you refine your research question. If you are unfamiliar with research questions, review our library’s guide at https://libguides.umgc.edu/c.php?g=709287&p=5040190 .
  3. Review the list of communication theories in the Week 1, Overview 1.1 reading assignment, “Start Here: Week 1, Overview 1.1 – Introduction to Theory, Theory Building & Communication Theories.” Click on the links in that document to read about theories that you think may address your workplace* communication problem. The links will take you to entries about each theory in the < Encyclopedia of Communication Theory >. Note that you can select the theories by communication type (i.e., interpersonal, organizational, etc.) — or just click around and explore all the theories. You are not required to read all the theories linked to the chart! But do take notes as you read the entries. You’ll find note-taking tools in the Week 2 learning resources.
  • After you have read up on the theories that piqued your interest, select a communication theory that you think is related to your paper’s research question. Then, click on More > Academic Support > Library in the classroom navigation toolbar or go directly to UMGC’s Library at http://www.umgc.edu/library/library.html. The link will take you to the library’s OneSearch page. Use this tool to help you find scholarly resources for your assignment.
  • Using OneSearch and the name of your communication theory as a search term, select the “scholarly journals only” search function and locate three peer-reviewed academic journals about your communication theory. (Do not use another field of study’s theories for your project in this class.) If you have difficulty finding appropriate, authoritative, academic resources for your theory in the library’s collection, discuss the problem with your classmates in the Week 2 collaboration discussion area or contact your instructor for further guidance.

Content: Based on what you learn, write a 2-page, double-spaced essay of at least 500 words in which you explain how the theory that you have chosen relates to your final paper’s research question. Make sure your literature review uses authoritative resources from the university library’s collection of scholarly research journals on communication to cover as much of the following as you can:

  • Identify your workplace communication problem
  • State your proposed research question
  • Explain the significance of your research question
  • Provide context for your proposed research question
  • Identify and describe the communication theory you want to use for your final project
  • Summarize what you learn about the communication theory’s goal(s), approach, and classification
  • Describe what you learn about the communication theory’s strengths, weaknesses, and/or biases in terms
  • Assess the communication theory’s relevance to the paper’s research question
  • Use as many of the evaluation standards to review the communication theory’s concepts and/or assumptions (scope, logical consistency, testability, parsimony, utility, heurism, and/or test of time)
  • Explain how the theory could be used in the final research paper

Organization: Organize the literature review as follows:

  • Begin with an introduction that contains your research question, an explanation of its significance, and any other background information setting the context of your research.
  • Use the body paragraphs to describe and assess what you learned about the communication theory that you plan to use in your final project. Be specific. Use the characteristics of theory that you learned about in the Week 1 Overviews 1.1 and 1.2 as your guide to what you should explain about your communication theory. Do not use any quotes or paraphrases in your writing. Focus on synthesizing and summarizing your understanding of what you learned about your communication theory, and critique its utility for your final project.
  • The conclusion should summarize the major issues that the researchers reported about the theory; it also should evaluate whether the theory accurately explains or can be used to resolve the workplace* communication problem you are investigating.


  • 2-3 pages (at least 500 words)
  • Double-spaced
  • 12 point Arial, Calibri, or Times News Roman font
  • 1” margins
  • APA-style title page
  • APA-style in-text citations
  • APA-style end-of-text references

Use American Psychological Association-style end-of-text references to create a list of the resources you consulted to learn about your theory. See the university library’s website at https://libguides.umgc.edu/apa-examples or the Purdue OWL at https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/apa_style/apa_formatting_and_style_guide/reference_list_basic_rules.html for guidance on how to format your references according to the 7th edition of the APA’s style manual.

Use the Turnitin and grammar tools in the classroom’s Draft Assignments folder in Assignments to help you revise and edit your paper.

Sample student assignments are attached to this assignment folder.

Resources to support this activity:

The following resources can provide you with guidance on how to analyze, write, and format a literature review.

Grading: For insight into your instructor’s expectations for this assignment, go to COMM 300 Assignment 1 Rubric to review the grading rubric. Sample students’ papers also are attached to this assignment folder.

Due Date: Submit your literature review as a Word .doc, .docx, or .rtf attachment only in its assignment folder by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on Tuesday of Week 2. Do not submit your assignment in .pdf, .Gdoc, .Pages, or other document formats. See the Course Schedule in the syllabus or the interactive calendar in this classroom for the exact date that this assignment is due in Week 2.

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