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PSYC 2305 - Introduction to Research Methods in Psychology

A resource guide for Psychology Research Methods class

What is a Literature Review?

If this is your first time having to do a literature review, you might be wondering what a "literature review" actually is. This page will help you gain a better understanding of what a literature review is, why it is helpful to do one, and how you might go about it. Watch the following video to start learning more.

Video Transcript

Beginning Your Search

Once you have refined your topic into a proper research question, you can begin your search for your literature review. The first step in this process is deciding where is the best place for you to search to find the information that you need. The following video explains the difference between what you can find with Google and what you can find in the libraries' research databases.

Video Transcript

Ultimately, because you are primarily searching for academic literature related to your research topic in psychology, you'll mostly be looking in the libraries' research databases. The following databases are a good place to start to find scholarly articles and other research literature that might relate to your topic for PSYC 2305. Read the database descriptions to decide which are the most appropriate databases for you to search in.

Searching in Databases

As you start to search in library databases, you’ll be making use of search terms to help you find what you need. Keep in mind that when you want to do a narrower, more focused search that gives you highly relevant results, you will want to combine multiple search terms or phrases. The downside of this approach can be that you may only get a few results or none at all. When combining search terms, you will need to be careful about which words you combine, how many you use, and how you combine them. It’s generally best practice to keep it limited to 2 to 4 words or phrases. The important thing to remember is that a literature search is an iterative process.  Expect yourself to test different search terms back and forth a couple of times in different databases.

Watch the following video to learn more about developing effective search terms:

Video Transcript

If you want to learn more about developing search terms and other search strategies that will help you find the information you need, you can complete the Search Terms and Strategies online lesson, or use the worksheet to guide your process.