PSY 309-A Research Methods: Literature Review
What is a literature review?
A literature review is a systematic review, or survey, of the published literature on a specific topic or research question.
The literature review is designed to analyze--not just summarize--scholarly writings that are related directly to your research question. That is, it represents the literature that provides background information on your topic and shows a correspondence between those writings and your research question.
This page is designed to be a general resource for those completing a literature review in their field.
Check out the short video below for more information about literature reviews:
Steps in conducting a literature review (from Scribbr)
Writing a literature review involves finding relevant publications (such as books and journal articles), critically analyzing them, and explaining what you found.
There are five key steps:
- Search for relevant literature using the Library website
- Read the literature and evaluate the sources you find (this will take time!)
- Identify themes, debates and gaps
- Outline the structure
- Write your literature review
A good literature review doesn’t just summarize sources – it analyzes, synthesizes, and critically evaluates to give a clear picture of the state of knowledge on the subject.
Need more information about Lit Reviews?
For more detailed information on conducting a literature review, check out Scribbr's in-depth tutorial here.
Reading scholarly literature can be tough - this content was written by subject matter experts FOR subject matter experts, so it should be challenging and take time for non-professionals to read.
Check out our reading strategies here to learn some strategies for how to successfully read and understand this often highly technical, dense literature.