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PSY 230 Assignments Playbook

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Assignment: Literature Review

  • For this assignment you will write a literature review using five (5) current, empirical, peer-reviewed, research articles which you will locate and read.
    • Current: for this assignment, current means published after 2005
    • Empirical: Empirical research is based on observed and measured phenomena and derives knowledge from actual experience rather than from theory or belief. Your article should be a study reported by the same scientists who conducted it.
    • Peer-reviewed: An article is peer-reviewed when it has gone through a quality evaluation process conducted by independent researchers in the same field as the article writer(s). How do I know if a journal is peer reviewed?
  • All five articles must be about the same topic.

What is a "Literature Review"?

A literature review is a summary and analysis of research published on a specific topic (this research is known as "the literature").

A literature review has four main objectives:

  • To survey the literature related to a specific topic
  • To summarize the information in the literature
  • To critically analyze and evaluate the information in a neutral way by
    • identifying gaps in the current knowledge
    • showing limitations of arguments, theories, and points of view
    • reviewing controversial issues
    • suggesting further research
  • To present all of the above in an organized way

TIP! To keep the source information straight, a synthesis matrix is a very helpful tool. See the file attached to this section.

For more information, use the following online resources.

Finding Articles

  • After you you have chosen your topic, go to the EBSCO portal
  • On the Choose Databases page, click on Select All, then click Continue.
  • Type your topic in the first search box. Use a small number of nouns; for example: sleep patterns.  Do not use verbs, prepositions (after, between), articles (a,the), phrases, or vague terms (relationship, effect).
  • Type the word psychology in the second search box, and select SO Source from the drop down menu to the right of the search box. This setup will allow you to find information on your topic from journals that have the word "psychology" in the title. 
  • Click Search.

red green and yellow boxes outlining search terms 

  • You can ask EBSCO to limit your results to peer reviewed sources.  After you run your search, look on the left hand side of the screen and under "Limit To," check the "Scholarly (Peer Reviewed) Journals" box.

screenshot of EBSCO limiters

  • Select an article that is listed as being full text. This means the entire article is available to you.  Should an article you wish to use not be available, you may request it using the Interlibrary Loan Request form.  This is a free service. 
  • Read the article several times before you begin summarizing it. 
  • To create the citation for your article, use the APA citation style playbook.  Note: you will not need parenthetical citations for this assignment because you are only working with one article, but you will need to use signal phrases every so often. 
  • Avoid quoting. For this assignment, paraphrasing is a better approach, because when you paraphrase, you demonstrate that you understand the material. 

How to recognize a study

Figuring out whether an article is a study is very easy:

  • If the article has a section titled Methods (sometimes the title is Methodology), then it is a study. 
  • If there is no section titled Methods (or Methodology), then it's not a study. 
  • When in doubt, ask your instructor or a librarian.

screenshot of methods section

Selected Journals

See the list below for some examples of developmental psychology journals you can access through the library. You can search each journal or you can run more comprehensive searches by using the EBSCO portal (for how to do this, see the section entitled "Finding Articles.").

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