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PSY102 Research Skills Guide: Literature reviews

What is the purpose or aim of the literature review?

A literature review is a concise summary of the research that has been done on a particular topic.  The purpose of a literature review is to paint a picture of the field's collective knowledge and research on a specific topic while highlighting where further research may need to be conducted.

In general, when starting a literature review you will need to do the following:

  • identify key words, terms and phrases - concept/mind maps can help tease out themes and keywords
  • identify synonyms
  • determine a timeframe
  • consider what type material you will include and why
  • identify where you will search for the information

Where to start a literature review

There are many different types of resources which might offer information on the topic you are researching, but you need to consider whether the source is scholarly or authoritative enough for a literature review. Typically literature reviews are conducted by using journal articles, conference papers, book chapters, websites or standards.  See the Commonly used sources box to get an overview of the different resources types and how to find them at Charles Sturt University.

COMMONLY USED SOURCES

There are many different types of resources which might offer information on the topic you are researching, but you need to consider whether the source is scholarly or authoritative enough for research project:

Source type Use this resource to: Where to access this source:
Book/eBook
  • Get an overview, introduction, and/or background on a topic
  • Get in-depth information about a broad topic
  • Find books on research methods and literature reviews.
  • Use Primo Search to find books and ebooks.
  • See the Psychology Resource Guide for recommended eBook collections.
  • See also eBook Guide for further information about downloading and using eBooks.
Journal article
  • Get the best source of academic or scholarly information
  • Get highly relevant and subject specific information on your topic
Newspaper/Media
  • Investigate public attitudes to topics and issues

A ProQuest database featuring the full-text of Australian and New Zealand newspapers. Previously called ANZ Newsstand

eVideos
  • Find current information
  • Get an overview, introduction, and/or background on a topic
Website
  • Locate reports and documents from government, academic, or professional organisations
  • Find background or introductory information
  • Familiarise yourself with the topic
  • See the Psychology Resource Guide for a list of reliable government, information sources and professional bodies.
  • Use Google Scholar to find academic or scholarly articles.
Reference material
  • Find factual and statistical information on a topic
  • Get an overview of a subject
  • Find definitions
  • Use subject specific resources to decipher the "jargon" of your topic
  • See the Psychology Resource Guide  for a list of dictionaries and encyclopaedias.
  • Use Primo Search to find other relevant resources.

What is a literature review?

Qualitative and quantitative research