In an introductory paragraph of about 300-500 words, state your research topic and your research question. Establish the definitions of the terms you are using in your research question. (For example, if your question refers to “early childhood education,” explain that this means “ages 3-7” or “up to grade 2 in the U.S.”)
In the body of the essay (1200-1500 words) describe how information from the sources you have consulted contribute to an understanding of the topic you are investigating. Rather than presenting summaries of the sources one-by-one as you did in your annotated bibliography, strive to describe the body of literature in larger conceptual groups. Think about how individual sources are in conversation with other ones. There are many ways to organize the body of your essay. You could look at several “sides” in a debate; or how researchers use several different research methods to study this topic; or how different disciplines contribute differently to knowledge about this topic; or how different subtopics are emphasized in the body of literature you have consulted. Recall how you justified your choices of sources in the annotated bibliography as a blueprint and use the “Identifying a Conversation” resource below to help clarify some conceptual groupings.
The conceptual groupings should arise organically from the body of literature you’ve read so there aren’t hard and fast rules for the structure. (For example, you may be describing one debate where there are 3 distinct perspectives, or two debates where there are two perspectives each. You may be addressing how quantitative methods produce different knowledge than experimental methods. You may see how behavioral scientists tend to create certain kinds of findings while education scholars contribute another sort. Or that there are 3 or 4 or 5 subtopics in the body of literature.)