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Psychology: Getting Started

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Spotlight On: The Literature Review

A Literature Review is a summary of what the scientific literature says about your specific topic or question. Literature reviews discuss previous studies relevant to your current topic or study in a concise manner.  Your professor might ask you to write this kind of paper to demonstrate your familiarity with work in the field pertinent to the research you hope to conduct.

Keep your topic  in mind as you organize your lit review and as you choose what literature to include. The following are tips when writing your literature review:

  • You should discuss studies that are directly related to your problem at hand and that logically lead to your own hypotheses.
  • You do not need to provide a complete historical overview nor provide literature that is peripheral to your own study.
  • Studies should be presented based on themes or concepts relevant to your research, not in a chronological format.
  • You should also consider what gap in the literature your own research fills. What hasn't been examined? What does your work do that others have not?

NOTE: A literature review and an annotated bibliography are not synonymous. If you are asked to write an annotated bibliography, you should consult the Publication Manual for the APA Format for Annotated Bibliographies.

Psychology Print Reference Books

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