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Create literature review based on Kauffer, Geisler & Neuwirth.


In the understand phase, your goal is to create a map of the current debate surrounding your issue.


Before you can contribute to a community, you need to understand what that community is saying.  It's not only essential for locating gaps and omissions, it's just good manners.

Choosing Methods

To understand the issue:

  • Start by finding searching for sources that speak to the problem case you identified in the focus phase.  You should use each of the techniques under search.
  • For each source you find, you'll need to comprehend the points the author is making.  The techniques in the comprehend phase will help you read texts critically in a way that will help you map the debate.
  • Finally, as you locate more and more sources and read them critically you will need to construct the map of the debate using the synthesis techniques.

Search, comprehension and synthesis don't occur in a linear order but happen iteratively -- as you find sources, comprehend on them and synthesize them, then repeat the process slowly building your map as you go. 

In addition, you will also want to test the products of the understand phase as you go.  After you've summarized a paper or two, test your summary using the Test Summary technique.  After you've taken your first stab at creating the synthesis tree, test it out using the Test Synthesis technique.


The output of this phase is a synthesis tree that maps out the current debate amongst a community of speakers.


Kaufer, D. S., Geisler, C., & Neuwirth, C. M. (1989). Arguing from sources: Exploring issues through reading and writing. San Diego, CA: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.