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Behavioral Principles and Theories of Learning Psychology: Literature Reviews
A literature review provides a critical account of the existing research and explains how this research is significant to the topic you are studying. The review helps form the intellectual framework for the study.
Provides the reader with a summary of the most important scholarly literature in the field.
Provides information on the current state of research.
Explains contrasting perspectives and viewpoints and current controversies on the topic.
Identifies significant researchers in the field.
Identifies primary methodologies used in researching in this field.
Identifies areas of the field that require further research.
Explains how the research you are doing fits into the larger research picture.
A Literature Review is NOT:
A summary of each article OR
A descriptive list of what has been written about the topic
The review need not be exhaustive; the objective is not to list as many relevant books, articles, reports as possible. However, the review should contain the most pertinent studies and point to important past and current research and practices in the field.
Conducting Research Literature Reviews by Arlene Fink
Call Number: Q180.55.M4 F56 2010
Publication Date: 2009-03-26
The Third Edition of Conducting Literature Reviews: From the Internet to Paper provides readers with an accessible but in-depth look at how to synthesize research literature. Bestselling author Arlene Fink shows researchers how to justify the need for and significance of research, and explain a students' findings.
Demystifying Dissertation Writing by Peg Boyle Single; Richard M. Reis
Call Number: LB2369 .S55 2009
Publication Date: 2009-09-01
Research shows that five strategies correlate with the successful completion of a dissertation: Establishing a consistent writing routine; Working with a support group; Consulting your adviser; Understanding your committee’s expectations; Setting a realistic and timely schedule.
'I highly recommend Diana Ridley’s book. One of its great strengths is its relevance to all students in Higher Education required to undertake a literature review. A sense of security prevailed in the presence of the author's uncomplicated writing style and pages rightly divided into manageable chunks...[This book] lives up to its claim to contain extensive practical tips on how to prepare, organise and write a successful literature review' - ESCalate Review The Literature Review is a concise step-by-step guide to conducting a literature search and writing up the literature review chapter in Masters dissertations and in Ph.D. and professional doctorate theses. Diana Ridley describes how to carry out a literature review in a systematic, methodical way, providing useful strategies for efficient reading, conducting searches, organising information and writing the review itself. Examples of best and worst practice drawn from real literature reviews are included throughout to demonstrate how the guidance can be put into practice. This is an accessible, pragmatic and highly practical resource that will be welcomed by postgraduate students of any discipline.
Helpful Electronic Resources
These online sources are good places to start your
research. For quick reference, hold your mouse over a link for a brief
description of the resource.
For more suggested sources, go to the tabs at the top of the page.
Provides full text coverage of over 2,050 journals, including nearly 1,500 peer-reviewed titles in the social sciences, humanities, general science, multi-cultural studies, education and more. Full-text coverage back to 1985.
Used by millions for research, teaching, and learning. With more than a thousand academic journals and over 1 million images, letters, and other primary sources, JSTOR is one of the world's most trusted sources for academic content.
Access to nearly 3 million searchable citations, the most comprehensive collection of doctoral dissertations and master's theses in the world. Dissertations from 1980 forward include 350-word abstracts and Master's theses from 1988 forward include 150-word abstracts. Full text for most dissertations since 1997 with 1.2 million full text dissertations available for download in PDF format. Approximately 70,000 new dissertations and theses are added each year. Coverage from 1743 to the present.
Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research holds the world's largest collection of computer-readable social science data. These data can be used for both research and instructional activities. First time users will be asked to create an ICPSR MyData account.
Locating and Accessing Information
a) Using Existing Literature Reviews Literature reviews may already exist on some aspect of your topic. Search online databases carefully to find literature reviews.
PsycINFO via EBSCO uses the term "literature review" in the methodology field. To search for a literature review:
b) Classic and Landmark Studies It is usually important to comment on classic works on your topic. Not doing so might be considered a failing of your review. While it is not always easy for one not yet an authority on the subject to be aware of landmark or particularly influential works, the more one researches, generally the more one recognizes names that are mentioned over and over as seminal and/or influential authorities.
Careful research in databases will often bring to light articles that mention classic works. It may be useful to use such keyword terms as “classic” or “landmark’ in your searching of databases.
APA (American Psychological Association) style is most commonly used to cite sources within the social sciences. This resource, revised according to the 6th edition, second printing of the APA manual, offers examples for the general format of APA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the reference page.
A literature review
provides thorough knowledge of previous studies; introduces seminal works.
helps focus one’s own research topic.
identifies a conceptual framework for one’s own research questions or problems; indicates potential directions for future research.
suggests previously unused or underused methodologies, designs, quantitative and qualitative strategies.
identifies gaps in previous studies; identifies flawed methodologies and/or theoretical approaches; avoids replication of mistakes.
helps the researcher avoid repetition of earlier research.
suggests unexplored populations.
determines whether past studies agree or disagree; identifies controversy in the literature.
tests assumptions; may help counter preconceived ideas and remove unconscious bias.