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Psychology: Literature Review

A guide to resources on psychology. Choose from the tabs below to locate specific kinds of resources.

Best Databases for the Psychology Literature Review

Sample Literature Review

The Literature Review will be updated to APA7 ASAP. Stay tuned.

Email laurie.robb@rccc.edu with questions.

Using the Databases to find Articles

Notice that the search here is from the first years that this subject was included in the database. I'm also looking for articles that have been cited by other researchers.

 

Screenshot of page finding information literacy article

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What is a Literature Review

Definition

The literature review that you write summarizes and explains research that has been done on a particular topic. You've seen literature reviews in academic articles that are written to show what's already been researched and why the authors choose to do their own research. Since you aren't actually conducting long, extensive research, you are are looking at a body of research and looking for common issues and also the progression of research (more sophisticated, taking new angles, etc.).

Content of the Review

Introduction

The introduction explains the focus and establishes the importance of the subject. It discusses what kind of work has been done on the topic and identifies any controversies within the field or any recent research which has raised questions about earlier assumptions. It may provide background or history. It concludes with a purpose or thesis statement. This statement will sum up and evaluate the state of the art in this field of research.

Body

Often divided by headings/subheadings, the body summarizes and evaluates the current state of knowledge in the field. It notes major themes or topics, the most important trends, and any findings about which researchers agree or disagree. 

Conclusion

The conclusion summarizes all the evidence presented and shows its significance.You should suggest any practical applications of the research as well as the implications and possibilities for future research.

How to Write A Literature Review

1. Find a Working Topic

Look at your textbook and Blackboard information. You should find a topic that's not too broad or too narrow. For example, developmental disabilities may be too broad but autism may be a better fit.

2. Review the Literature

  • Use one of the psychology databases. 
  • Remember that the reference lists of recent articles and reviews can lead to valuable papers
  • Use the date slider bar to find older articles that might be considered "seminal" or the foundation for later studies.

3. Read the Selected Articles Thoroughly and Evaluate Them

  • What assumptions do most/some researchers seem to be making?
  • What methodologies do they use? what testing procedures, subjects, material tested?
  • Evaluate and synthesize the research findings and conclusions drawn
  • Note experts in the field: names/labs that are frequently referenced
  • Watch for popularity of theories and how this has/has not changed over time

4. Develop a Working Thesis

Write a one or two sentence statement summarizing the conclusion you have reached about the major trends and developments you see in the research that has been done on your subject.