Addressing Level 3 Table of Contents Problems

Trying to get APA format and Microsoft Word capabilities can be a problem at time - especially when it comes to the automatic Table of Contents.

As noted in an earlier posting, if you format each of your headings with a Format Style (Heading 1, Heading 2, Heading 3) MS Word can create a Table of Contents for you.

Problem is that the Level 3 APA heading causes a problem so that it won't register in the Table of Contents. The problem is that the heading is on the same line as the regular text.  See the example below:

Level 3 Example:
     Generation Z. This generation is a unique generation because they will not have lived in a time when the World Wide Web didn't exist.

There are two ways to beat this problem:
  1. Don't worry about it.  Be happy with only having levels 1 and 2 in your Table of Contents - Be Done With It.
  2. Insert the lines for the Level 3 headings into the Word-Generated Table of Contents and place the Level 3 heading and page number into it manually.
Deciding which of these tactics will be completely up to you.  If you select option 2, I have created a 4-minute video that explains the process.

Happy Writing and 
I would appreciate your feedback on how well this addressed your needs.

Table of Contents - Make MS Word Your Worker

The most meticulous part of writing your review is the Table of Contents.  This is obviously the last thing that you do (after writing the abstract) and that is not the time you want to be bogged down with details.  

Tips about Headings and Subheadings 

  • The Headings are the main parts of your review: Abstract, Table of Contents, Introduction, Methodology, Analysis and Discussion, Conclusions and Recommendations, and References.
  • Subheadings are GOOD.  They provide a visual framework for your readers. 
  • Subheadings should probably only be used in the Analysis and Discussion and Conclusions and Recommendations sections.  
  • You don't need subheadings in the Introduction and Methodology.

Using MS Word to Create Your Table of Contents 

MS Word can actually create your Table of Contents for you. You just need to tell MS Word which lines are the headings, subheadings, sub-subheadings and sub-sub-subheadings.  You do this by assigning a Style to each heading.  If you are using the UNI IT Masters Template, you will find that Headings 1 - 4 have already been created for you using the APA 6th Edition format.

I am going to describe how to prepare your headings and then create your Table of Contents in the steps below.  There will also be videos at the end of this posting which will demonstrate how to create a Table of Contents. (BTW, I am using a Mac to create this Table of Contents because that is what I have available. I have included a video at the end which will explain how to do it with Windows.)

Preparing Your Review for Your Table of Contents

  1. Write your review and insert headings where necessary.  
  2. Using the template, the Main Headings (Heading 1) have already been formatted.  They are bold and centered.
  3. Highlight a subheading (Heading 2) and click on the Heading 2 box in the Styles Section of the Home Menu at the top of your document in Word.  This should make this subheading bold and left justified. Do this throughout your review.
  4. Highlight a sub-subheading (Heading 3) and click on the Heading 3 box in the Styles Section. This should bold this sub-subheading and indent it 5 spaces.
  5. You get the idea - continue this to your sub-sub-subheadings, but I don't think that you will have any of those.

Asking MS Word to Create Your Table of Contents

Now that you have identified the headings et al. that you want to be included in your Table of Contents, MS Word can create your Table of Contents
  1. Place your cursor where you want your Table of Contents to be located.
  2. From the Insert Menu, select Index and Tables.
  3. Select Table of Contents from the appearing window. 
  4. Select From Template (See, we even created the TOC template for you.)
  5. VOILA!!!!!   You have a Table of Contents!

Updating Your Table of Contents

As you make ongoing changes to your review, it will mess up the accuracy of your TOC.  You can update it at will.  (Will who?)
  1. Right-Click on your TOC.
  2. Select Update Field.
  3. Make either selection on your appearing window.
  4. VOILA!!!!!   You have an updated TOC!

Creating a Table of Contents using Windows (Word 2013)

Creating a Table of Contents Using Mac OSX (Word 2011)

How to Modify Existing Heading Styles for the APA Format

If you want to create an automatic Table of Contents in Word, then you need to format each of your headings using the appropriate Style format (see an earlier posting).

Word uses Headings 1, 2, 3, etc to identify the position of each title in the Table of Contents.  Therefore, you need to modify each of the Word headings so that they will match the heading formats defined by APA.

I have created a 7-minute video that demonstrates how you can do this.  Remember that you are not creating new styles.  You are modifying existing styles.

Using the Five Levels of Heading in APA Style

Organization is a key element in article/review organization.  This organization is achieved through the headings the writer uses to provide a framework for the reader.

The American Psychological Association has a set of 5 levels that they include in their framework: (The following graphic was shared in the APA Style Blog.)

Here are some points that you should realize about these headings:
  • All of the levels are bolded except level 5
  • Level 1 is the only level centered.
  • Level 2 is the only level left justified.
  • Levels 3 - 5 all end with periods.
  • Levels 1 & 2 are the only levels that use Title Capitalization.  Levels 3 - 5 use Sentence Capitalization.
  • Levels 4 & 5 are indented.
Here is the beginning of a sample document using these headings. Click here to get to the rest of the document.

Turning Your Readings into Notes into Your Review

One of the greatest challenges in writing your review is collecting and organizing information from all of the articles you have collected.   

I found a blog posting, How to Get Your Literature Review to Write Itself  

This article explains how you should always read your articles with a computer next to you.  Have a document open so that you can take your notes directly into the document.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

Module 11: Refining Your Abstract

You are almost done!!!

You have written your Introduction, Methodology, Analysis and Discussion, Conclusions and Recommendations.   Now all that you need to do is complete the beginning and the end of your Literature Review.  You need to complete your Abstract and your References.


You have been reading abstracts forever.  These are the short, 150-word descriptions that give you a brief description of the contents of the article.  Within this short passage, you expect to find the topic, purpose, methodology and conclusions. This provides a usable overview for researchers.

Your abstract should follow the same structure as your review:
  1. Describe the topic in one sentence;
  2. Explain the purpose, thesis or organizing construct and the scope of the article;
  3. List the sources used; and
  4. Review the conclusions.
The best way to evaluate the completeness of an abstract is by asking yourself if it tells enough about the article for a researcher to read and decide whether this article will be useful for her research.

Here is an example of a good abstract that follows the outline above:

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) can be used to create differentiated learning environments. This review examines the effects of Universal Design for Learning on student achievement in a secondary school setting. Seven peer-reviewed research studies and one doctoral dissertation published between 2002-2010 were selected for analysis. The reviewed research studies indicated that students tended to perform better when material was presented through a multitude of channels and students were given a choice of methods for demonstrating proficiency. Future research into using UDL in the K-12 curriculum was recommended. (88 words)

Did it accomplish what was intended?  Please note that it is only 88 words.

Module 10: Sharing Your Conclusions and Recommendations

     Now that you have captured your readers' attention with your captivating Introduction . . . and you have informed them of the research questions you will pursue . . . and you explained how you went about your search . . . and you shared your findings . . . it is time to tell your readers "what you think."
     Up to this point, your readers didn't care about your thoughts.  All that they wanted to know was what studies had to say about answering your specific research questions.

Writing the Conclusions:Now it is time for you to share your own opinions. You have the opportunity to tie together the loose ends that you have discovered as you combed through the literature. This is where you can discuss what your discoveries mean to you and ultimately to the rest of the world.   This is where you cite the studies you have already introduced and share the similarities and differences you found when you were working on them.  To avoid redundancy, review the list of ideas at the bottom of this post.

Writing the Recommendation: 
Remember that this section has two parts.  It has your conclusions and then it has your recommendations for how this information should be researched/applied in the future.  The recommendations section is where you can direct your readers towards ways to extend and use your literature review.  This section will include recommendations for:

  • Future research
  • Classroom applications
  • Educational policies and procedures
  • Program revision or other warranted situations

The recommendations section is often where future researchers will get their ideas of what else to explore.  Administrators will gain their brainstorms for how to use this information to improve educational institutions.

Writing It - Do not underestimate the importance of the conclusion - it is the last thing the reader reads. It should give your writing a sense of completeness and leave a lasting impression on the reader.

     There is no one correct way to write a conclusion but you might think about the following:
  • Synthesize - don't summarize! Don't repeat things said in the main body (the reader has already read this!) but show how your ideas,  your examples and your references have combined to support your line of argument.
  • Don't introduce new information. Remember that you are bringing closure to what has already been presented.
  • Reference and Cite Studies. This is where you will be citing and referencing the research you have previously introduced.  You MUST Compare and Contrast the outcomes of those studies to support your conclusions!!
  • Bring your paper full circle by echoing the introduction. But talk about the topic now with the hindsight of having developed your ideas in the body of your review.
  • Emphasize key material but acknowledge where there are opposing viewpoints which might qualify your argument.
  • Pose questions which still remain to be answered or further explored or require further study.
  • Point out the importance of the implications of what you have said on your field of research or your area of work.
  • Describe lack of closure - You may feel you were not always able to arrive at conclusions to your questions. Being able to recognize the lack of a conclusion can be good in that it demonstrates you understand the complexity of the problem.
  • Leave on an exciting note - You might save a provocative or exciting insight or quotation to add spice to your conclusion. But take care not to risk diverting attention from the arguments you have developed - avoid leaving the reader with a new direction that needs researching when you want your ideas and deliberations on your topic to take centre stage.
Hints for Writing a Conclusion - This document does a good job of providing a mindset for writing your conclusion. Read it carefully for hints on how to begin your conclusion as well as examples of what your conclusion should NOT be. 

EXAMPLE of a Conclusions and Recommendations section from a 33-page IT Masters Degree Literature Review.

Leave your reader feeling fulfilled and on a good . . . 

Module 9b: Am I Writing an Annotated Bibliography or a Literature Review?

Differences Between an Annotated Bibliography and a Literature Review

The biggest challenge that you can encounter when you are writing a Literature Review is how to present the relevant studies.  You have spent hours researching and reviewing journal articles about research studies that are relevant to your topic. You want to share them and the easiest way is to describe each of the studies in a paragraph or two.  This is a logical process, but it can get confusing to your readers if you just bombard them with study after study without any additional narrative that ties them together.  This sort of content presentation is called an Annotated Bibliography.

Annotated Bibliography

When the emphasis of a written document is individual articles, then is it called an Annotated Bibliography.
An Annotated Bibliography is defined as a list of citations to books, articles, and documents. Each citation is followed by a brief (usually about 150 words) descriptive and evaluative paragraph, the annotation. The purpose of the annotation is to inform the reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited. (Engle, 2016)

Annotated Bibliography Example:

A Literature Review

Galvin defines a Literature Review as “a well-written analytical narrative that brings readers up-to-date on what is known about a given topic.” (p.11)   Helen Mongan-Rallis (2006) states that a literature review “goes well beyond merely summarizing professional literature.  It focuses on a specific topic of interest to you and includes a critical analysis of the relationship between different works, and relating this research to your work.“

We are writing an Integrative Review which “reviews, critiques, and synthesizes the representative literature on a topic in an integrated way that new frameworks . . . are generated.”  This type of review includes all of the studies that the author can find that are relevant to a specific topic or theme in the research. The studies are organized using the topics/themes as the framework, not the articles. (USC Libraries, 2005)

Buttram, MacMillan, and Koch (2012) created a table that compares Annotated Bibliographies with Literature Reviews.  This graphic contrasts the purpose, structure, and components found in each of this genre.

Furthermore, they created a figure that describes how an annotated bibliography can feed into a literature review.  This is especially useful because it depicts how appropriate studies are compared and contrasted throughout a literature review.  The review is driven by the topics/themes, not the research.  The research is just used to provide the necessary foundation for discussing each topic/theme.

An annotated bibliography might be a valuable way to organize your research, but ultimately you will want to use your findings to share and substantiate your interpretation of how studies have explored the various themes and subthemes of your selected research topic.

Is it clearer now?  What are the realizations that you experienced?  Are you still confused about the structure or intent of a literature review? 

Please answer these questions and provide any other resources that you may deem useful for you colleagues by placing them in the comments section of this RWLD.


Module 9: Developing Your Analysis and Discussion

Analysis and Discussion

This is the section where you actually present research-based concepts in an organized fashion and use specific studies to support these ideas. Remember that this section has NOTHING to do with your personal ideas. You need to save your personal ideas for the Conclusions and Recommendations section.

The Analysis and Discussion section begins by identifying the research theme (or themes in your masters paper) that you will be exploring.  You will use the opening paragraph to provide the framework for the rest of this section. Having identified your research theme, you will then define the subheadings. This shouldn't be done in a boring bulleted list. This organization can be defined through the prose of your review.
 Here is an example of how this opening paragraph for a Full Masters Literature Review might be written:
Teachers’ beliefs regarding technology integration into the 21st century classroom play a role in learning. Technology can only be embraced as an effective learning tool when teachers believe that what they are being asked to do will work, and that it is the best solution to an identifiable educational problem (Ertmer, Addison, Lane, Ross, & Woods, 1999). There are three specific areas that will be reviewed within the role of teacher belief systems in technology integration. These areas are common teacher beliefs regarding technology integration, teacher goals and knowledge concerning technology integration and supporting teachers as they integrate technology into the 21st century classroom. 
Tour a Sample Lit Review: It is difficult to describe how to write the Methodology or Analysis and Discussion sections without examples, so here is a narration of a single literature review as well as some other examples you will want to read to "get the idea" of how to write these beasts.

Other examples will be included after this narration:

A fine example of this organization is the article, The Effect of Instructor-created Video Programs to Teach Students with Disabilities: A Literature Review by Linda Mechling (2005) Journal of Special Education Technologies 20(2) 25 - 36.  Open the article in another window and review it while you read this narration.

This is a comprehensive review about using video programs. Notice how this begins with an opening paragraph that sets the stage. It talks about the research and development since the early 1980s. It then supports the importance of the topic by showing research-based advantages to the method. This is followed in the 5th paragraph where Mechling explains the purpose and scope of the review. It also explains how the review will be structured.

The Introduction is followed by the Method (Methodology) where it explains the method for finding the studies and the criteria that were used to filter the research. You will noticed that the explanation of databases is not as extensive as we expect for this project, the critera are quite specific.

The results section is similar to our Analysis and Discussion. It begins by specifically explaining the grouping of the studies. It does a wonderful job of creating the framework of the upcoming contents for the reader. Your section doesn't need to be quite so statistically-oriented, but please note how it prepares the reader for the research that will be presented.

Each of the sections described in the Analysis and Discussion are subheaded and discussed as independent entities. The Video Feedback section is concept-driven. This begins with the video feedback concept and supports that with Dowrick's work. it then explains a variety of studies where the value of video feedback was explored in various fashions. Notice how the studies are not the emphasis of the section the effects of video feedback are central to what is being shared. The final paragraph combines and summarizes what was found in the studies. Please NOTE: the final two sentences are transitional sentences that lead to the next section, Video Modeling.

This process of exploring each of the sections described in the opening paragraphs continues throughout the review. The Discussion section (p. 32) is close to the section that we would call the Conclusions and Recommendation section. The author reviews each of the sections and provides commentary on the effectiveness of the approach. This is also the place where the author can compare and contrast the various outcomes (i.e., Paragraph 3 on p. 33.)

The Recommendations for future research do a decent job of relating this technology to the future potential of Virtual Reality. Unfortunately, it doesn't do a very good job of discussing how these results might change policy and pedagogy for teaching disabled learners in the future. There are, however, a few sentences addressing these areas in the final sentences of the review.

The Summary at the end is not necessary if you have written your conclusions well. This section is well-written and much of it could be used as organizational material for the conclusions section in one of our papers.

This review is a fine example of the simple format of a literature review. It doesn't involve teaching readers the fundamentals of a topic as much as providing an organized review of the research in the field. 

Other Examples:

Module 8: Describing Your Methodology

You have prepared your readers for your review in the Introduction by telling them what you are reviewing, why it is important and how you have constrained your research to limit it to a manageable size. You have identified your research questions to tantalize your readers.

NOW it is time to get down to writing the bulk of your paper which includes the Methodology and Analysis and Discussion. The Methodology tells you how you found the research and the following section actually presents the review. Writing your Analysis and Discussion will be discussed in the next module.

While the Methodology that you will write for this review is not always included in the typical published journal reviews that you have been reading in your research, it is something that you will use to validate your research. The importance of the methodology is that it allows you to demonstrate your search's thoroughness to your readers so that they can personally decide how comprehensive your searches might be. If your readers feel that you have approached your research properly, then they will continue to read your Analysis and Discussion of the literature collection. You might say that your Methodology section provides the credibility which is the foundation of your whole review.

You will need to explain the search methods you used to find your resources. That isn't too difficult, but then you need to describe how you decided what to include. Once your search yielded a huge list of possible resources, you need to specify the orderly process you used to make the best selection of your bountiful harvest.

You will also have to explain how you ultimately selected your resources. Your criteria for selection might include indicators like date (5 years or less if possible), reputable journal, frequently-cited author, quality of research, large enough sample size, methodology, quality of the research, etc.

So what are the topics that need to be covered in the Methodology? It's simply a matter of explaining the process:
  1. You begin by explaining how you gathered your resources. Which specific search engines did you use and what terms/phrases did you use for your search?
  2. You were presented with hundreds or thousands of resources. You didn't have time to review all of the abstracts and resources. You had to decide which abstracts to review. You needed to make decisions about which sources to analyze. Explain your strategy for deciding which sources "made the first cut."
  3. Once you decided which sources to trust, what procedures did you use to analyze the sources to identify if they are reliable enough to consider them for your review.
  4. When you have winnowed your collection of reliable resources, explain the criteria that you used to decide which resources will be relevant to your review.

Examples of Methodologies

Module 7: Using APA to Write a Lit Review and How to Write the Introduction

You know what to write, now you need to explore how to write it. This module will provide some guidance on how to write a literature review. It will discuss the content and the writing techniques that you should use to create a successful review.  (NOTE: This video talks about "research questions" - in our class we are discussing "research themes."  We try to answer Research Questions.  Research Themes are used to organize discussions about what is being research in specific fields.
Writing Using APA Format
You may be tired of reading about writing in APA format.  You have a whole book filled with that information, don't you?  Here are 3 great videos that you should spend less than half an hour watching. The first two are PowerPoint-based tours through the APA rules. Not exciting but informative. The third video adds to the discussion with graphic examples.  Enjoy.
  • APA 6th Edition Part 1 introduces some writing strategies for research papers and explains APA formatting and citing. (Note: They suggest using "Running Headers" in the paper, but we don't do that at UNI.) (8 minutes)
  • APA 6th Edition Part 2 explains how to format your reference list (9 minutes).
  • Write in APA Format describes GREAT writing strategies and when and how sources are used (5 minutes).
  • Dos and Don'ts of Writing a Literature Review Wiki  Read through this wiki once now, and then once before you begin writing your paper. It's interesting how many of the tips will stick with you and shout out when you are writing.
    Writing an Introduction
    Creating a Research Table to Summarize the Literature
    • Read Chapter 7 in the Galvan book.  (You may have already read Chapter 7)
    • Creating a research table is not part of your assignment but you will remember how well it organized and summarized the research when you read the research reviews at the end of the Galvan book. If you include it in your 10-page paper, it will not have to count as part of the page count.  Some of you are concerned that you will not be able to cover your content in 10 pages so don't worry about this uber-organizer as causing you problems.
    Writing a Paragraph

    Module 6: Outlining Your Content

    Now that you have begun your research, it is time to envision how it will all fit together to present your review to your readers.   

    The most efficient way to organize your thoughts is usually through an outline. (It could also be done through a graphic representation of this but you would have to base it upon the linear outline format that is being presented here.) This outline is designed to organize your formative information in a structure that will easily transfer into the UNI Instructional Technology Masters Literature Review template.

    The template is self-explanatory, but here are a few hints that you should consider before you begin outlining your review:

    1. This outline is NOT the final document on your review's structure.  It is a snapshot of how you envision it based upon your present level of research and discovery.  It will evolve as you continue to research.
    2. The title is a working title.  It will probably change as you move along.
    3. You are asked to identify 3 research themes. These themes are meant to provide direction.  Remember that you are organizing existing research in the field so it may turn out that your questions are not being studied by researchers in the field. THEREFORE you will have to change your research questions so that they can be used as organizers for the research that you DO find.
    4. You only have to write about a single theme in your 10-page lit review this semester.  You will find information about the other themes, but they will not be included in this review.
    5. The Analysis and Discussion section of your outline is DIFFERENT than the other parts of your outline. This is where you will be identifying the content of the research you have found. It will not include ALL of the research you will find for this review, but it will provide a framework for your future research.
    6. REVIEW Dr. Z's Dos and Don'ts for Writing Literature Reviews.  I strongly suggest reading it through twice before writing your Lit Review.  Some of these points will stick in the back of your mind and will be helpful sometime in the future.

    Module 4: Selecting Your Topic

    Now it's time to select a topic for your paper and then identify the questions you want to answer.

    True, the paper for this class is only 10 pages so you might not think that it is very important. BUT, if you take time and select a topic that truly interests you, you might save yourself a great deal of time later in the program because you can continue with this topic into your final masters paper (if you decide to do a literature review.)

    Selecting your topic is not necessarily easy.  You need to find something that is broad enough to have meaning but not so narrow that there is no research on the topic.

    Too Broad: Using Technology in Education
    Too Narrow: The Effects of Using QR Codes with 3rd Grade Girls with Red Hair.
    Just Right: Effective Methods for Making Learning More Student-Centric Using QR Codes in Elementary Grades.

    Read Chapter 3 in Galvan's book. He provides 14 steps in Selecting a Topic and Identifying Literature for Review.

    Here is a short clip on selecting a topic:

    What's in the Literature?
    Once you have an overall topic (and these change frequently), it is time for you to review the literature in that topic and discover what has been researched.  What questions have researchers asked about this topic and what have they found through their research?  What else needs to be researched?

    As Galvan noted in chapter 3, you have to review the sources you have found and look for common themes in the research.    Here is a short video that talks about research themes.  It actually addresses how your will organize your resources when you prepare to write, but it provides a useful structure for your research.

    I look forward to meeting with you on Zoom in the near future so that we can discuss your decisions.

    Module 3: Intro to a Literature Review

    What is a literature review?  It's like nothing you have ever written before. 

    Unlike the research papers you have written so far, a literature review requires you to identify research questions that you want to explore and then find ACTUAL RESEARCH (not written opinions) that may lead you to the answers to your questions. PLEASE NOTICE that I didn't use the verb, support. Research questions are unbiased. Research questions should read "What are the effects of using social media in high school social studies courses?" NOT "What are the benefits of using social media in high school social studies courses?"
    The reviewer is using these questions to explore the literature to see what has been researched to lead towards answering these questions.

    You have identified a question and will search the literature for answers. Once you have reviewed the literature, you will tell your reader about what you have found. You are guiding them through the stories(research) that you have discovered on your exploration. Consider yourself a storyteller.

    Writing the Literature Review: Knowing what and why you write a literature review is important. Here is an overview by David Taylor at the University of Maryland. He is actually presenting it in the context of using the lit review as part of a larger document, but it is good description.

    What IS a Literature Review
    You have heard David Taylor's Description of a Literature Review.  Here is another WONDERFUL 9-minute video entitled Literature Reviews: An Overview for Graduate Students.  It is directly written for you . . . the graduate student. 

    This video reveals the multiple places where a Literature Review can be found.  It can be found in the introduction of a report on research.  This literature discussion creates a foundation for the research by describing what has already been accomplished.  Some literature reviews are meant to stand alone so that a reader can acquire an overall understanding of the field.

    You Are the Storyteller
    The best metaphor that I have found for explaining how to write literature reviews is that of someone telling you the story of a town by telling the stories of the people who live there. A great example of such a story is Our Town. I am sure that many of you either performed-in or saw your friends/children present Our Town in high school. This is a story where the narrator takes the viewer on a tour of their town by telling stories about the people in the town. 

    Watch this 1940 video of Our Town. It is a 2-hour story that you might enjoy as evening entertainment (and homework too.)  If 2-hours is too long for your busy schedule, then watch at least the first 30 minutes to get the sense of what I am saying about telling a story.

    This is not just for your entertainment.  It includes telling the story of Grover's Corners, New Hampshire. You might say that it is a Grover's Corners Review. As you watch this video, keep track of the "main topics" that are covered.  Look for indicators of the validity of the items discussed.  Consider how the "main topics" intertwine.   

    Now Read chapters 1 and 2 of Galvan's book, Writing Literature Reviews to get an overall understanding of what a Literature Review is and how it must be written. 

    Review the the Literature Reviews A & B in the back of the book as well.   The labels may vary but how does it fit the overall structure?

    Return to the Assignment page to see what happens next.