Literature Review

Pam Harris

+ Research

The scholarly conversation

Research Paper

What the Lit Review is NOT!

Annotated Bibliography
Only a Summary
A book review

+Integrated analysis of scholarly writing

What the Lit Review is NOT

+Can be arranged thematically, chronologically or by questions

- A summary + an analysis

+Makes judgements on the literature:

- Identifies inconsistencies, gaps and contradictions in the literature

+Is guided by your perspective

i.e. If you write a lit review chronologically, you might be emphasizing how your topic has changed over time

- Highlights key findings

What the Lit Review is NOT

+Demonstrates why the topic is significant to psychology

+Discovers relationships between ideas/research

+Provides clues for future research

- Ensures that researches do not duplicate work that has already been done

-Areas to focus

+Demonstrates you are familiar with the topic


Be organized

Identify a topic

Discover relationships between sources

Identify themes/ideas


Search for literature






PsycINFO Thesaurus
+ Controlled Vocabulary


* "With the wide variety of concepts and vocabulary used in the psychological literature, searching for and retrieving records about specific concepts is virtually impossible without the controlled vocabulary of a thesaurus."
                                                                                                                       American Psychological Association

* The thesaurus has broader, narrower and related terms.

* By using the thesaurus you are putting the work of indexers to use for you.

To think about....

"... how many sources do you need to establish the importance of a theme? Twenty?... in a database containing millions of sentences, full-text search can turn up twenty examples of anything... this might strengthen confirmation bias."

-Ted Underwood,

Theorizing Research Practices We Forgot to Theorize Twenty Years Ago

Pam Harris




Psychology Lit Review + research

By Swarthmore Reference

Psychology Lit Review + research

~ Pam Harris

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