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Writing: Literature Reviews for Culminating Project

Look for Existing Literature Reviews

A very smart initial move is to take a look at existing literature reviews about your topic.  These can be good time-savers as they can provide a recent overview on your subject -- plus, they will develop your knowledge so that you can critically analyze existing research.  Looking at existing literature reviews can show you the following:

  • how the definition of the topic has developed and changed
  • what are the key works and  who are the key theorists
  • what methodologies have generally been used for research in this area
  • what components of the topic have been singled out for special attention and why
  • how are the different studies related

Literature Reviews

  • Some journals  focus specifically on publishing literature reviews. For example, you might try the Journal of Behavioral Health Services and Research or  Psychological Bulletin (not all its articles are reviews, however).
  • Most academic journals occasionally publish literature reviews. Search a subject database or Google Scholar for these by doing a Boolean search combining  "literature review" OR "review of the literature" AND your topic. You may want to limit your search by date to relatively recent publications.
  • Databases sometimes allow you to limit your search to literature reviews in the subject field, or limit by document type to review articles.  PsycINFO includes literature review as a methodology.
    • You can perform a search in just PsycInfo by using the Choose Databases search box, located below.  Check the box next to the database you wish to search.
Research databases
Limit Your Results

 

  • After performing your PsycInfo search, look to the "Refine Results" menu on the left of the results page and choose literature review as a methodology.