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Literature Reviews: A Resource Guide for Psychology: Articles

1) Select a Topic

Select a topic you can manage in the timeframe you have to complete your project. Narrow down the topic if it is too broad.

Establish your research questions and organize your literature into logical categories around the subject/topic areas of your questions.

2) Search the literature

Use a variety of resources - locate books, journals, and documents that contain useful information and ideas on your topic. Internet sites, theses, conference papers, eprints and government or industry reports can also be included. Do not rely solely on electronic full-text material which is more easily available. Reference sources such as dictionaries can assist in defining terminology, and encyclopedias may be useful in introducing topics and listing key references.

You will need to review literature and analyze the information presented in each source. The review process is ongoing - you may need to go back to locate additional materials as you identify new ideas to see if others have written on similar topics.

3) Write the Literature Review

A literature review is a piece of discursive prose, not a list describing or summarizing one piece of literature after another.

You can organize the review in many ways; for example, you can center the review historically (how this topic has been dealt with over time); or center it on the theoretical positions surrounding your topic (those for a position vs. those against, for example); or you can focus on how each of your sources contributes to your understanding of your project.

Your literature review should include

  • an introduction which explains how your review is organized. 
  • a body which contains the headings and subheadings that provide a map to show the various perspectives of your argument.
    • the body contains the evaluation or synthesize of the materials you want to include on your topic.
  • a summary.


4) Create a Bibliography

Create a bibliography of all the materials included in the literature review - books, articles, or documents using the appropriate style required by your instructor - APA, MLA or Chicago.

For citation examples see style manuals.

Key Databases for Psychology

To access the electronic resources on this list, click on the name below. When connecting from home you will be asked for your Caldwell University e-mail name and password. You will have to login in only once during a search session, no matter how many databases you use.