How to Write the Literature Section of a Research Paper

If you are writing a research paper you may have to include a literature review section near the beginning. This section serves to evaluate existing literature in the field. Consider the example below of a partial literature review taken from an essay about divorce:

Marital Theory and Divorce: Long and Short Term Effects on Children

Based on the work of E. Mavis Hetherington and John Kelly (2004) in their article For Better or For Worse, they conducted a study of 72 preschool-aged children at the time of the divorce. In many cases, divorce proved to benefit all members of the family by allowing the children to move from an environment of tension and frustration to one with a more harmonious nature with either one main parent who was caring and competent or both parents who each provided better care as individuals than as the pair (Slife 152).

Some children who experience the divorce of their parents do face immediate consequences such as lower scores of academic achievement, conduct, psychological adjustment, and the quality of relationships with the parents (Jekielek 1). The National Longitudinal Surveys of Youth noted that children who remain in a family lifestyle filled with conflict exhibit lower levels of well-being. It is emotionally healthier for a child to be taken out a tense and conflict-filled environment through the act of divorce.

According to Gottman (1976) distressed and non-distresses couples have to make decisions about low-conflict and high conflict tasks which will impact not just their behavior but the behavor of their spouse. Distressed couples will be more negatively influenced by the behavior of their partner than non-distressed counterparts. As such, when communication begins to falter and distressed couples are nearing divorce, children begin to endure the negativity associated with low-conflict tasks as well as high-conflict tasks. This can introduce the idea that all tasks are met with conflict (Gottman 15).

According to Sanders (1999) social learning analysis can be used to demonstrate why a history of parental divorce would leave partners predisposed to difficulties in managing conflict after the divorce. To test this, ninety-three engaged couples discussed two areas of conflict. Couples in which the parents of the female had divorced demonstrated more negative communication during conflict discussions as well as cognition. The couples who did not have divorced parents on either side showed much more positive community during conflict discussions. However, couples in which the man's parents had divorced were the same as couples in which the parents of neither partner had divorced. Therefore, a history of divorce can affect women as adults more than men in terms of couple communication (Sanders 60).