- Research Guides
- Literature Reviews
- Finding Articles
- Finding Books and Media
- Research Methods, Tests, and Statistics
- Citations and APA Style
- Annotated Bibliographies
- Other Resources
- According to Science
- The Scientific Process
- Activity: Scholarly Party
What is a Literature Review?
The scholarly conversation.
A literature review provides an overview of previous research on a topic that critically evaluates, classifies, and compares what has already been published on a particular topic. It allows the author to synthesize and place into context the research and scholarly literature relevant to the topic. It helps map the different approaches to a given question and reveals patterns. It forms the foundation for the author’s subsequent research and justifies the significance of the new investigation.
A literature review can be a short introductory section of a research article or a report or policy paper that focuses on recent research. Or, in the case of dissertations, theses, and review articles, it can be an extensive review of all relevant research.
- The format is usually a bibliographic essay; sources are briefly cited within the body of the essay, with full bibliographic citations at the end.
- The introduction should define the topic and set the context for the literature review. It will include the author's perspective or point of view on the topic, how they have defined the scope of the topic (including what's not included), and how the review will be organized. It can point out overall trends, conflicts in methodology or conclusions, and gaps in the research.
- In the body of the review, the author should organize the research into major topics and subtopics. These groupings may be by subject, (e.g., globalization of clothing manufacturing), type of research (e.g., case studies), methodology (e.g., qualitative), genre, chronology, or other common characteristics. Within these groups, the author can then discuss the merits of each article and analyze and compare the importance of each article to similar ones.
- The conclusion will summarize the main findings, make clear how this review of the literature supports (or not) the research to follow, and may point the direction for further research.
- The list of references will include full citations for all of the items mentioned in the literature review.
Key Questions for a Literature Review
A literature review should try to answer questions such as
- Who are the key researchers on this topic?
- What has been the focus of the research efforts so far and what is the current status?
- How have certain studies built on prior studies? Where are the connections? Are there new interpretations of the research?
- Have there been any controversies or debate about the research? Is there consensus? Are there any contradictions?
- Which areas have been identified as needing further research? Have any pathways been suggested?
- How will your topic uniquely contribute to this body of knowledge?
- Which methodologies have researchers used and which appear to be the most productive?
- What sources of information or data were identified that might be useful to you?
- How does your particular topic fit into the larger context of what has already been done?
- How has the research that has already been done help frame your current investigation ?
Examples of Literature Reviews
Example of a literature review at the beginning of an article: Forbes, C. C., Blanchard, C. M., Mummery, W. K., & Courneya, K. S. (2015, March). Prevalence and correlates of strength exercise among breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer survivors . Oncology Nursing Forum, 42(2), 118+. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.sonoma.idm.oclc.org/ps/i.do?p=HRCA&sw=w&u=sonomacsu&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA422059606&asid=27e45873fddc413ac1bebbc129f7649c Example of a comprehensive review of the literature: Wilson, J. L. (2016). An exploration of bullying behaviours in nursing: a review of the literature. British Journal Of Nursing , 25 (6), 303-306. For additional examples, see:
Galvan, J., Galvan, M., & ProQuest. (2017). Writing literature reviews: A guide for students of the social and behavioral sciences (Seventh ed.). [Electronic book]
Pan, M., & Lopez, M. (2008). Preparing literature reviews: Qualitative and quantitative approaches (3rd ed.). Glendale, CA: Pyrczak Pub. [ Q180.55.E9 P36 2008]
- Write a Literature Review (UCSC)
- Literature Reviews (Purdue)
- Literature Reviews: overview (UNC)
- Review of Literature (UW-Madison)
Evidence Matrix for Literature Reviews
The Evidence Matrix can help you organize your research before writing your lit review. Use it to identify patterns and commonalities in the articles you have found--similar methodologies ? common theoretical frameworks ? It helps you make sure that all your major concepts covered. It also helps you see how your research fits into the context of the overall topic.
- Evidence Matrix Special thanks to Dr. Cindy Stearns, SSU Sociology Dept, for permission to use this Matrix as an example.
- << Previous: Citations and APA Style
- Next: Annotated Bibliographies >>
- Last Updated: Aug 8, 2022 10:53 AM
- URL: https://libguides.sonoma.edu/psychology
- SUNY Oswego, Penfield Library
- Resource Guides
Psychology Research Guide
- Literature Reviews
- Research Starters
- Find Tests and Measures
Conducting Literature Reviews
Finding literature reviews in psycinfo, more help on conducting literature reviews.
- How to Read a Scientific Article
- Citing Sources
- Penfield Library
- Research Guides
- A-Z List of Databases & Indexes
The APA definition of a literature review (from http://www.apa.org/databases/training/method-values.html ):
Survey of previously published literature on a particular topic to define and clarify a particular problem; summarize previous investigations; and to identify relations, contradictions, gaps, and inconsistencies in the literature, and suggest the next step in solving the problem.
Literature Reviews should:
- Key concepts that are being researched
- The areas that are ripe for more research—where the gaps and inconsistencies in the literature are
- A critical analysis of research that has been previously conducted
- Will include primary and secondary research
- Be selective—you’ll review many sources, so pick the most important parts of the articles/books.
- Introduction: Provides an overview of your topic, including the major problems and issues that have been studied.
- Discussion of Methodologies: If there are different types of studies conducted, identifying what types of studies have been conducted is often provided.
- Identification and Discussion of Studies: Provide overview of major studies conducted, and if there have been follow-up studies, identify whether this has supported or disproved results from prior studies.
- Identification of Themes in Literature: If there has been different themes in the literature, these are also discussed in literature reviews. For example, if you were writing a review of treatment of OCD, cognitive-behavioral therapy and drug therapy would be themes to discuss.
- Conclusion/Discussion—Summarize what you’ve found in your review of literature, and identify areas in need of further research or gaps in the literature.
Because literature reviews are a major part of research in psychology, Psycinfo allows you to easily limit to literature reviews. In the advanced search screen, you can select "literature review" as the methodology.
Now all you'll need to do is enter your search terms, and your results should show you many literature reviews conducted by professionals on your topic.
When you find an literature review article that is relevant to your topic, you should look at who the authors cite and who is citing the author, so that you can begin to use their research to help you locate sources and conduct your own literature review. The best way to do that is to use the "Cited References" and "Times Cited" links in Psycinfo, which is pictured below.
This article on procrastination has 423 references, and 48 other articles in psycinfo are citing this literature review. And, the citations are either available in full text or to request through ILL. Check out the article "The Nature of Procrastination" to see how these features work.
By searching for existing literature reviews, and then using the references of those literature reviews to begin your own literature search, you can efficiently gather the best research on a topic. You'll want to keep in mind that you'll need to summarize and analyze the articles you read, and won't be able to use every single article you choose.
You can use the search box below to get started.
Adelphi Library's tutorial, Conducting a Literature Review in Education and the Behavioral Sciences covers how to gather sources from library databases for your literature review.
The University of Toronto also provides "A Few Tips on Conducting a Literature Review" that offers some good advice and questions to ask when conducting a literature review.
Purdue University's Online Writing Lab (OWL) has several resources that discuss literature reviews:
https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/994/04/ (for grad students, but is still offers some good tips and advice for anyone writing a literature review)
Journal articles (covers more than 1,700 periodicals), chapters, books, dissertations and reports on psychology and related fields.
- << Previous: Handbooks
- Next: How to Read a Scientific Article >>
- Search This Site All UCSD Sites Faculty/Staff Search Term
- Contact & Directions
- Climate Statement
- Cognitive Behavioral Neuroscience
- Cognitive Psychology
- Developmental Psychology
- Sensation & Perception
- Social Psychology
- Adjunct Faculty
- Non-Senate Instructors
- Psychology Grads
- Affiliated Grads
- New and Prospective Students
- Honors Program
- Experiential Learning
- Programs & Events
- Psi Chi / Psychology Club
- Prospective PhD Students
- Current PhD Students
- Area Brown Bags
- Colloquium Series
- Graduate Talk Series
- Anderson Distinguished Lecture Series
- Speaker Videos
- Undergraduate Program
- Academic and Writing Resources
Writing Research Papers
- Writing a Literature Review
When writing a research paper on a specific topic, you will often need to include an overview of any prior research that has been conducted on that topic. For example, if your research paper is describing an experiment on fear conditioning, then you will probably need to provide an overview of prior research on fear conditioning. That overview is typically known as a literature review.
Please note that a full-length literature review article may be suitable for fulfilling the requirements for the Psychology B.S. Degree Research Paper . For further details, please check with your faculty advisor.
Different Types of Literature Reviews
Literature reviews come in many forms. They can be part of a research paper, for example as part of the Introduction section. They can be one chapter of a doctoral dissertation. Literature reviews can also “stand alone” as separate articles by themselves. For instance, some journals such as Annual Review of Psychology , Psychological Bulletin , and others typically publish full-length review articles. Similarly, in courses at UCSD, you may be asked to write a research paper that is itself a literature review (such as, with an instructor’s permission, in fulfillment of the B.S. Degree Research Paper requirement). Alternatively, you may be expected to include a literature review as part of a larger research paper (such as part of an Honors Thesis).
Literature reviews can be written using a variety of different styles. These may differ in the way prior research is reviewed as well as the way in which the literature review is organized. Examples of stylistic variations in literature reviews include:
- Summarization of prior work vs. critical evaluation. In some cases, prior research is simply described and summarized; in other cases, the writer compares, contrasts, and may even critique prior research (for example, discusses their strengths and weaknesses).
- Chronological vs. categorical and other types of organization. In some cases, the literature review begins with the oldest research and advances until it concludes with the latest research. In other cases, research is discussed by category (such as in groupings of closely related studies) without regard for chronological order. In yet other cases, research is discussed in terms of opposing views (such as when different research studies or researchers disagree with one another).
Overall, all literature reviews, whether they are written as a part of a larger work or as separate articles unto themselves, have a common feature: they do not present new research; rather, they provide an overview of prior research on a specific topic .
How to Write a Literature Review
When writing a literature review, it can be helpful to rely on the following steps. Please note that these procedures are not necessarily only for writing a literature review that becomes part of a larger article; they can also be used for writing a full-length article that is itself a literature review (although such reviews are typically more detailed and exhaustive; for more information please refer to the Further Resources section of this page).
Steps for Writing a Literature Review
1. Identify and define the topic that you will be reviewing.
The topic, which is commonly a research question (or problem) of some kind, needs to be identified and defined as clearly as possible. You need to have an idea of what you will be reviewing in order to effectively search for references and to write a coherent summary of the research on it. At this stage it can be helpful to write down a description of the research question, area, or topic that you will be reviewing, as well as to identify any keywords that you will be using to search for relevant research.
2. Conduct a literature search.
Use a range of keywords to search databases such as PsycINFO and any others that may contain relevant articles. You should focus on peer-reviewed, scholarly articles. Published books may also be helpful, but keep in mind that peer-reviewed articles are widely considered to be the “gold standard” of scientific research. Read through titles and abstracts, select and obtain articles (that is, download, copy, or print them out), and save your searches as needed. For more information about this step, please see the Using Databases and Finding Scholarly References section of this website.
3. Read through the research that you have found and take notes.
Absorb as much information as you can. Read through the articles and books that you have found, and as you do, take notes. The notes should include anything that will be helpful in advancing your own thinking about the topic and in helping you write the literature review (such as key points, ideas, or even page numbers that index key information). Some references may turn out to be more helpful than others; you may notice patterns or striking contrasts between different sources ; and some sources may refer to yet other sources of potential interest. This is often the most time-consuming part of the review process. However, it is also where you get to learn about the topic in great detail. For more details about taking notes, please see the “Reading Sources and Taking Notes” section of the Finding Scholarly References page of this website.
4. Organize your notes and thoughts; create an outline.
At this stage, you are close to writing the review itself. However, it is often helpful to first reflect on all the reading that you have done. What patterns stand out? Do the different sources converge on a consensus? Or not? What unresolved questions still remain? You should look over your notes (it may also be helpful to reorganize them), and as you do, to think about how you will present this research in your literature review. Are you going to summarize or critically evaluate? Are you going to use a chronological or other type of organizational structure? It can also be helpful to create an outline of how your literature review will be structured.
5. Write the literature review itself and edit and revise as needed.
The final stage involves writing. When writing, keep in mind that literature reviews are generally characterized by a summary style in which prior research is described sufficiently to explain critical findings but does not include a high level of detail (if readers want to learn about all the specific details of a study, then they can look up the references that you cite and read the original articles themselves). However, the degree of emphasis that is given to individual studies may vary (more or less detail may be warranted depending on how critical or unique a given study was). After you have written a first draft, you should read it carefully and then edit and revise as needed. You may need to repeat this process more than once. It may be helpful to have another person read through your draft(s) and provide feedback.
6. Incorporate the literature review into your research paper draft.
After the literature review is complete, you should incorporate it into your research paper (if you are writing the review as one component of a larger paper). Depending on the stage at which your paper is at, this may involve merging your literature review into a partially complete Introduction section, writing the rest of the paper around the literature review, or other processes.
Further Tips for Writing a Literature Review
Full-length literature reviews
- Many full-length literature review articles use a three-part structure: Introduction (where the topic is identified and any trends or major problems in the literature are introduced), Body (where the studies that comprise the literature on that topic are discussed), and Discussion or Conclusion (where major patterns and points are discussed and the general state of what is known about the topic is summarized)
Literature reviews as part of a larger paper
- An “express method” of writing a literature review for a research paper is as follows: first, write a one paragraph description of each article that you read. Second, choose how you will order all the paragraphs and combine them in one document. Third, add transitions between the paragraphs, as well as an introductory and concluding paragraph. 1
- A literature review that is part of a larger research paper typically does not have to be exhaustive. Rather, it should contain most or all of the significant studies about a research topic but not tangential or loosely related ones. 2 Generally, literature reviews should be sufficient for the reader to understand the major issues and key findings about a research topic. You may however need to confer with your instructor or editor to determine how comprehensive you need to be.
Benefits of Literature Reviews
By summarizing prior research on a topic, literature reviews have multiple benefits. These include:
- Literature reviews help readers understand what is known about a topic without having to find and read through multiple sources.
- Literature reviews help “set the stage” for later reading about new research on a given topic (such as if they are placed in the Introduction of a larger research paper). In other words, they provide helpful background and context.
- Literature reviews can also help the writer learn about a given topic while in the process of preparing the review itself. In the act of research and writing the literature review, the writer gains expertise on the topic .
- How to Write APA Style Research Papers (a comprehensive guide) [ PDF ]
- Tips for Writing APA Style Research Papers (a brief summary) [ PDF ]
- Example APA Style Research Paper (for B.S. Degree – literature review) [ PDF ]
- Writing Research Paper Videos
- UCSD Library Psychology Research Guide: Literature Reviews
- Developing and Writing a Literature Review from N Carolina A&T State University
- Example of a Short Literature Review from York College CUNY
- How to Write a Review of Literature from UW-Madison
- Writing a Literature Review from UC Santa Cruz
- Pautasso, M. (2013). Ten Simple Rules for Writing a Literature Review. PLoS Computational Biology, 9 (7), e1003149. doi : 1371/journal.pcbi.1003149
1 Ashton, W. Writing a short literature review . [PDF]
2 carver, l. (2014). writing the research paper [workshop]. , prepared by s. c. pan for ucsd psychology.
Back to top
- Research Paper Structure
- Formatting Research Papers
- Using Databases and Finding References
- What Types of References Are Appropriate?
- Evaluating References and Taking Notes
- Citing References
- Writing Process and Revising
- Improving Scientific Writing
- Academic Integrity and Avoiding Plagiarism
- Writing Research Papers Videos
- University of La Verne
- Subject Guides
PSY 306: Cognitive Psychology
- Literature Reviews
- Find Articles
- What is a Literature Review?
- Literature Review Resources
- Literature Review Books
- The 5 Steps to Writing a Literature Review
- APA Citations
- Organize Citations
- A literature review is a critical, analytical summary and synthesis of the current knowledge of a topic. As a researcher, you collect the available literature on a topic, and then select the literature that is most relevant for your purpose. Your written literature review summarizes and analyses the themes, topics, methods, and results of that literature in order to inform the reader about the history and current status of research on that topic.
What purpose does a literature review serve?
- The literature review informs the reader of the researcher's knowledge of the relevant research already conducted on the topic under discussion, and places the author's current study in context of previous studies.
- As part of a senior project, the literature review points out the current issues and questions concerning a topic. By relating the your research to a knowledge gap in the existing literature, you should demonstrate how his or her proposed research will contribute to expanding knowledge in that field.
- Short Literature Review Sample This literature review sample guides students from the thought process to a finished review.
- Literature Review Matrix (Excel Doc) Excel file that can be edited to suit your needs.
- Literature Review Matrix (PDF) Source: McLean, Lindsey. "Literature Review." CORA (Community of Online Research Assignments), 2015. https://www.projectcora.org/assignment/literature-review.
- Academic Writer (formerly APA Style Central) This link opens in a new window Academic Writer (formerly APA Style Central) features three independent but integrated centers that provide expert resources necessary for teaching, learning, and applying the rules of APA Style.
- Sample Literature Reviews: Univ. of West Florida Literature review guide from the University of West Florida library guides.
- Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL) Sample literature review in APA from Purdue University's Online Writing Lab (OWL)
- << Previous: Find Articles
- Next: APA Citations >>
- Last Updated: Feb 13, 2023 9:55 AM
- URL: https://laverne.libguides.com/psy306
Psychology - How to Write a Literature Review
What is a literature review?
A literature review discusses published research studies on a specific topic or subject area.
What is the purpose of writing it?
The goal of the lit review is to describe, summarize, and evaluate previous research in a given area. It should explain important conclusions about your topic as well as identify any gaps in the research or areas for future study.
Choose a Topic and Find Articles
Choose a topic that interests you and remember to keep an open mind. Depending on how much research there is, you may need to narrow or broaden your topic.
- PsycArticles This link opens in a new window Scholarly journal articles on psychology topics.
- ProQuest Central This link opens in a new window The largest single periodical resource available, bringing together complete databases across all major subject areas, including Business, Health and Medical, Social Sciences, Education, Science and Technology, and Humanities.
- Google Scholar Search for scholarly articles and books. Be aware that the full text may not always be available.
Read the Articles
You want to read and understand each of your articles. A good starting point is to answer these 3 questions about each article:
1. What was the study's research question? In other words, what were they trying to find out?
2. What was the study's method? Briefly describe HOW they collected data and WHO their participant group was.
3. What do the results mean? Or what conclusions can we draw from the results?
Write the Lit Review
Connect: Think about what YOUR research question is for your lit review. Each article you found should connect to your topic/theme in some way and you should be able to describe your topic as a research question and your articles as answers to that question. Your summary for each article should show how they further our knowledge in relation to your topic.
Organize: Can you organize your articles into a few distinct groups? It could be by treatment method or age/ethnic group or other factor. The way you organize will depend on your topic and the research, but it will help you if you can group articles in some way.
Analyze: Think beyond just summary and about what we still don't know about this topic. Are there gaps in the research? Do too many studies use just one method of gathering data? What else is important to know? The "Discussion" section of your articles may help guide you in your analysis.
- College Drinking Games Literature Review Lit Review published in a scholarly journal. Good example of how lit reviews work in the field.
- How to Write a Literature Review from Psychology in Action Good advice on choosing a topic and searching for articles.
- Writing a Literature Review in Psychology from University of Washington Helpful info on all aspects of writing a lit review. Great resource.
- Literature Reviews from UNC Chapel Hill Writing Center This is not specific to Psychology, but has good tips on organizing your paper.
- Next: APA >>
- Last Updated: Sep 27, 2022 12:12 PM
- URL: https://bergen.libguides.com/litreview
- Monash Online
Psychology Research Portal
- Research Portal Applications Research Portal Applications
- About About
- Research process
- 1. Identify an area of interest
- A. Review the possible research areas A. Review the possible research areas
- B. Make a choice B. Make a choice
- C. Discuss your research ideas with your supervisor C. Discuss your research ideas with your supervisor
- 2. Investigate your research topic
- A. Start thinking, reading, generating ideas A. Start thinking, reading, generating ideas
- B. Generate a specific research question B. Generate a specific research question
- C. The literature review C. The literature review
- D. Produce a research proposal
- Aims and Hypotheses Aims and Hypotheses
- 3. Ethics 3. Ethics
- 4. Select measures
- Measures come in all shapes and sizes Measures come in all shapes and sizes
- How to choose the best measure How to choose the best measure
- Copyright Copyright
- Online databases Online databases
- Open-source online links Open-source online links
- Monash's online test repository Monash's online test repository
- Developing your test Developing your test
- 5. Select participants
- Sona Systems Sona Systems
- TurkPrime TurkPrime
- Social media Social media
- 6. Collect and manage data
- Managing your data Managing your data
- 7. Analyse data
- Online tools Online tools
- Textbooks Textbooks
- 8. Write report
- Resources and guides for thesis writing Resources and guides for thesis writing
- APA referencing guides and resources APA referencing guides and resources
- Tips to help your writing Tips to help your writing
- How to access the vLab
- Uploading & downloading files for SPSS Uploading & downloading files for SPSS
- vLab applications
- Qualtrics Qualtrics
- Inquisit Lab Inquisit Lab
- Inquisit Web Inquisit Web
- OpenSesame OpenSesame
- LabArchives LabArchives
- monash.figshare monash.figshare
- MATLAB MATLAB
- NVivo NVivo
- RStudio RStudio
- Supervision and communication
- Supervision tools
- Supervision guides and resources Supervision guides and resources
- Other communication tools Other communication tools
- General resources General resources
- News & events News & events
It is the University’s expectation that only those who are well and not presenting with COVID-19 symptoms attend a Monash campus or location. View our latest updates .
- Skip to content
- Skip to navigation
C. The literature review
A good literature review synthesizes the research and presents an overview of the current level of understanding in a particular field to form the context for your research project. Once you have done an initial search of the literature to narrow down your ideas, it is time to conduct a more thorough review of the literature. Understanding the literature requires you to read, re-read, and think about complex ideas to help formulate a comprehensive review.
Literature reviews generally start with more general ideas and then become more specific. They usually start with an overview of the field and then funnel down into your specific research question. When discussing past research, the emphasis is on integration and interpretation of primary research articles by identifying key themes, trends, issues or comparisons. It is not simply a summary of each individual article. Below are some key components of the literature review.
A thorough literature search is essential in ensuring a comprehensive review. There should be sufficient research evidence on the subject in terms of both the quantity and diversity of sources.
Research should be synthesized and wide-ranging. Ideas should be presented in terms of themes rather than just a summary of individual studies.
There should be a degree of critical thinking including evaluations and questions of the literature.
The review should lead logically into your specific research question.
Click the button below to view a general literature review structure. Please note that the required structure may vary depending on your enrolled course.
All sources should be adequately referenced. For information on how to cite and reference, review Monash Library's "Psychology Citing and Referencing guide."
University of Houston Libraries
Psyc 2305 - introduction to research methods in psychology.
- Develop a Topic
- Conduct a Literature Review
- Find Tests and Measurements
- Cite Sources
- Need More Help?
What is a Literature Review?
If this is your first time having to do a literature review, you might be wondering what a "literature review" actually is. This page will help you gain a better understanding of what a literature review is, why it is helpful to do one, and how you might go about it. Watch the following video to start learning more.
Beginning Your Search
Once you have refined your topic into a proper research question, you can begin your search for your literature review. The first step in this process is deciding where is the best place for you to search to find the information that you need. The following video explains the difference between what you can find with Google and what you can find in the libraries' research databases.
Ultimately, because you are primarily searching for academic literature related to your research topic in psychology, you'll mostly be looking in the libraries' research databases. The following databases are a good place to start to find scholarly articles and other research literature that might relate to your topic for PSYC 2305. Read the database descriptions to decide which are the most appropriate databases for you to search in.
- APA PsycInfo This link opens in a new window APA PsycInfo, American Psychological Association’s (APA) renowned resource for abstracts of scholarly journal articles, book chapters, books, and dissertations, is the largest resource devoted to peer-reviewed literature in behavioral science and mental health.
- ERIC (EBSCOhost) This link opens in a new window ERIC, the Educational Resource Information Center, provides access to education literature and resources.
- MEDLINE (EBSCOhost) This link opens in a new window MEDLINE provides scholarly information on medicine, nursing, the health care system, biomedical sciences, and much more.
- Web of Science This link opens in a new window Web of Science is a comprehensive research platform for finding journal articles, patents, and conference proceedings in a wide range of disciplines. The content is highly curated.
Searching in Databases
As you start to search in library databases, you’ll be making use of search terms to help you find what you need. Keep in mind that when you want to do a narrower, more focused search that gives you highly relevant results, you will want to combine multiple search terms or phrases. The downside of this approach can be that you may only get a few results or none at all. When combining search terms, you will need to be careful about which words you combine, how many you use, and how you combine them. It’s generally best practice to keep it limited to 2 to 4 words or phrases. The important thing to remember is that a literature search is an iterative process. Expect yourself to test different search terms back and forth a couple of times in different databases.
Watch the following video to learn more about developing effective search terms:
If you want to learn more about developing search terms and other search strategies that will help you find the information you need, you can complete the Search Terms and Strategies online lesson, or use the worksheet to guide your process.
- Search Terms and Strategies lesson
- Search Terms and Strategies worksheet
- << Previous: Develop a Topic
- Next: Find Tests and Measurements >>
- Last Updated: Sep 12, 2022 2:47 PM
- URL: https://guides.lib.uh.edu/PSYC2305
Study at Cambridge
About the university, research at cambridge.
- Undergraduate courses
- Events and open days
- Fees and finance
- Postgraduate courses
- How to apply
- Postgraduate events
- Fees and funding
- International students
- Continuing education
- Executive and professional education
- Courses in education
- How the University and Colleges work
- Term dates and calendars
- Visiting the University
- Annual reports
- Equality and diversity
- A global university
- Public engagement
- Give to Cambridge
- For Cambridge students
- For our researchers
- Business and enterprise
- Colleges & departments
- Email & phone search
- Museums & collections
- Research Support Psychology
Biological Sciences Libraries
- Libraries overview
- Cory and Herbarium Libraries
- Genetics Library overview
- Collections - Genetics
- Electronic Resources - Genetics
- Searching and Borrowing - Genetics
- Moore Library
- PDN Library overview
- Collections - PDN
- Electronic Resources - PDN
- Library Facilities - PDN
- Searching & Borrowing - PDN
- Plant Sciences Library overview
- Archives - Plant Sciences
- Finding information - Plant Sciences
- Information for members - Plant Sciences
- Information for other libraries - Plant Sciences
- Information for visitors - Plant Sciences
- What is in the Library - Plant Sciences
- Psychology Library overview
- New user - Psychology overview
- Registration form - Psychology
- Psychology Books Collection - Psychology overview
- MacCurdy Library - Psychology
- Special Collection - Psychology overview
- Special/Rare Book List - Psychology
- Psychology Archive - Psychology
- Searching for Resources - Psychology
- Letter from one Undergraduate to all Undergraduates
- Find us - Psychology
- APA style help
- WI-FI, Printing and Software - Psychology
- Research Support Psychology overview
- Literature Review
- Library Facilities - Psychology
- Library Induction - Psychology
- Veterinary Library overview
- Collection - Vet Library
- Help & Support - Vet Library
- Printing & Photocopying - Vet Library
- Research Support - Vet Library
- Searching & Borrowing - Vet Library
- Zoology Library overview
- Searching & Borrowing - Zoology
- Electronic Resources - Zoology
- Library facilities - Zoology
- Special collections - Zoology overview
- Alfred Newton (1829-1907) overview
- Alfred Newton Papers catalogue
- Eltringham African Collection overview
- Eltringham African Collection list - Zoology
- Francis Maitland Balfour (1851-1882)
- Offprints - Zoology
- Webb Smith Collection
- Collections - Zoology
- Resources overview
- Go to Catalogue
- Go to LibGuides
- Reading Lists Online
- Resource recommendation
- Special Collections & Archives
- Theses & Dissertations
- Troubleshooting access problems
- Services overview
- Book 1-2-1 support
- Digital Services
- Physical Services
- Getting started
- Core Skills overview
- Advanced Skills
- Open Research
- Research Skills Series
- Research Support FAQs
- Accessibility & Inclusion
- Book a 1-2-1 support
- Can't find what you need?
- Feedback & Enquiry (Raven)
- IDiscover Guide
Literature Review - Psychology
This page provides some literature review pointers, including links to resources that provide in-depth literature review help. For one-to-one support, please get in touch with the Library here .
Start your literature review early
Your literature review will help you to find out what is already known about the topic you are investigating and will enable you to understand your research topic thoroughly. It may help you to avoid inadvertently replicating work that has already been done. It will help you to answer that important question: Which areas deserve further investigation?
You can learn more about the literature review in this handy video from North Carolina State University Library:
Approach your literature review in an objective, methodical and structured manner. Plan what you are doing in a way that you could describe so that somebody else could replicate what you have done.
Define your research topic, and frame it as a question
Clarify your research question. What is the scope and purpose of your research topic? What criteria are you including and excluding in your question?
For longer pieces of work, set up current awareness alerts in the major databases.
❗Where to find resources?
To search for peer-reviewed journal articles, make use of the variety of databases available to you, including PsycINFO, PubMed, Scopus and Web of Science. They do not all index the same material, so by interrogating them all, you will cover more bases. Also visit A-Z Databases, for Psychology subject, and access the list of databases the University of Cambridge offer to you.
Identify the key journal/s in your area of interest and look through some individual issues to get a broader perspective on the area.
To search for books, try major catalogues such as COPAC or WorldCat .
Consider other sources, such as websites and blogs. Google Scholar is worth searching, but bear in mind its limitations. It has limited ontological knowledge, and it searches broadly. It will also retrieve non-peer reviewed material.
Cambridge Libraries catalogue
A-z databases libguide.
If you are having difficulty retrieving the full text of relevant material, please get in touch with the Library by email here .
❗Searching the literature
The LibGuide for student skills has excellent content to support you during your literature searching.
❗ Manage your results
The recommended style for citations and referencing for research projects or dissertations for the undergraduate courses offered by the Department of Psychology is APA.
Use reference management software, such as Zotero , Mendeley or EndNote. The UIS provides software training (self-paced) for referencing management software (Zotero, Mendeley and EndNote).
If you need extra help, go to the comprehensive guide to referencing, Cite Them Right Online avaliable here .
Extra help needed?
There is help on how to critically appraise material on the Psychology Library Guide.
Please book 1/1 support with the Librarian, contact us .
Links to literature review chapters
Ford, N. (2012). How to do a literature review. In The essential guide to using the web for research. SAGE.
Reardon, D.F. (2006). The literature review. In Doing your undergraduate research project. SAGE.
Thomas, D.R. and Hodges, I.D. (2010). Doing a literature review. In Designing and Managing Your Research Project: Core Skills for Social and Health Research. SAGE.
Bell, J. (2010). Doing your research project: A guide for first-time researchers in education, health and social science (5th ed.). Open University Press. See especially Part 1, Chapter 5.
The Psychology Library has multiple copies of Sternberg, R.J. and Sternberg, K. (2010). The psychologist's companion: a guide to writing scientific papers for students and researchers . 5th edition. Cambridge University Press (Psychology Main Library class mark T.1.2 ). This book gives excellent advice on how to write clearly, and it includes a chapter on commonly misused words. It is also available as an ebook ; to access this, go to IDiscover .
SAGE Research Methods Online
A fabulous library of over 800 books on all aspects of research, including:.
The Sage Handbook of Early Childhood Research
Restarting Stalled Research
Creating and Verifying Data Sets with Excel
Research Ethics and Integrity for Social Scientist: Beyond Regulatory Compliance
Searching & Borrowing
↳ Library Induction
↳ Research Support
↳ Letter from an Undergraduate
↳ WI-FI, Printing and Software
Reading List Online
Opening hours: .
Access is restricted to Psychology members.
Mon-Fri 9 to 17
- Students Part IA/IB
24 hours card access
- Students Part II
Alina Wanitzek (Librarian)
Dr Mirjana Bozic (Academic Librarian)
Oliwia Stecko (Undergraduate Rep)
Access full text anywhere
> View Video about Lean Library <
Sir Frederic Bartlett Archive
Link to the Bartlett Digital Archive
Open Access for Researchers and Academics
Read & Publish journals - Open Access
Interlibrary loan request form
Copyright for Researchers
Follow us on Twitter
Cory & Herbarium
Libraries contact s
© 2023 University of Cambridge
- Contact the University
- Freedom of information
- Statement on Modern Slavery
- Terms and conditions
- University A-Z
- Research news
- About research at Cambridge
- Spotlight on...
In literature, a theme is a common thread or main idea that is repeated throughout a literary work. The theme of a novel or story is the major message that organizes the entire work.
In literature, “loss of innocence” means that a character has ended her childhood and become an adult. This can happen in a variety of ways, and it can be symbolized throughout the text.
Psychological needs such as such as confidence, achievement and morality are on a high level of human needs, Psychology Today explains. The most basic needs are physiological, such as breathing, eating and sleeping. Mid-level needs are soci...
Find an area that is well defined and well studied, meaning that several research groups
A literature review provides an overview of previous research on a topic that critically evaluates, classifies, and compares what has already
Survey of previously published literature on a particular topic to define and clarify a particular problem; summarize previous investigations;
Literature reviews help “set the stage” for later reading about new research on a given topic (such as if they are placed in the Introduction of a larger
A literature review is a critical, analytical summary and synthesis of the current knowledge of a topic. As a researcher, you collect the
What is a literature review? A literature review discusses published research studies on a specific topic or subject area.
An example of an organizing theme is a conflict or controversy in the area, where you might first discuss the studies that support one side, then discuss the
An example of an organizing theme is a conflict or controversy in the area, where you might first discuss the studies that support one side, and then discuss.
A good literature review synthesizes the research and presents an overview of the current level of understanding in a particular field to form the context
Once you have refined your topic into a proper research question, you can begin your search for your literature review. The first step in this
Your literature review will help you to find out what is already known about the topic you are investigating and will enable you to understand your research