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Literature Reviews: A Resource Guide for Psychology

Begin with the Topic

The first step in writing a literature review is to identify and analyze your topic.  This seems like an obvious place to start, but all too often writers are tempted to just give it lip service.  Many people will have a good idea of what they want to research before they start.  It's the details that may be unclear.  Spend time to carefully select and analyze your topic.  What is the scope of your project?  How selective can you be?  By taking the time to understand what you are really researching you will save yourself time in the long run, and the final project will usually be clearer as well.

In order to be able to "research & collect information" (the next step) you'll need to identify the key concepts that pertain to your topic.  What are the concepts that articles will need to touch upon to be of interest to you in your research?  Will each article need to include all of these concepts?

In reality, you may need to identify two topics: the one for your research paper/project and the topic for the literature review itself.  While they may seem the same, these two topics can actually be slightly different.  Literature reviews often cover a broader topic than the actual research paper/project in order to give a good overview of how the research fits into the big picture.  The two topics are definitely related, but difference can be important.