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Psychology 130: Risk factors and treatments for mental illness: The Literature Review

What is a Literature Review?

A literature review is a survey of research on a given topic. It allows you see what has already been written on a topic so that you can draw on that research in your own study. By seeing what has already been written on a topic you will also know how to distinguish your research and engage in an original area of inquiry.

Why do a Literature Review?

A literature review helps you explore the research that has come before you, to see how your research question has (or has not) already been addressed.

You will identify:

  • core research in the field
  • experts in the subject area
  • methodology you may want to use (or avoid)
  • gaps in knowledge -- or where your research would fit in

Elements of a Successful Literature Review

According to Byrne's  What makes a successful literature review? you should follow these steps:

  1. Identify appropriate search terms.
  2. Search appropriate databases to identify articles on your topic.
  3. Identify key publications in your area.
  4. Search the web to identify relevant grey literature. (Grey literature is often found in the public sector and is not traditionally published like academic literature. It is often produced by research organizations.)
  5. Scan article abstracts and summaries before reading the piece in full.
  6. Read the relevant articles and take notes.
  7. Organize by theme.
  8. Write your review.

from Byrne, D. (2017). What makes a successful literature review?. Project Planner. 10.4135/9781526408518. (via SAGE Research Methods)

Using APA Style

The once familiar APA 6th style has been replaced, as of 2020, with a 7th edition. The new style manual includes some significant changes to formatting papers and has attempted to make language more inclusive and bias free. Among some of the new changes:

  • DOIs are now formatted as URLs
  • Authors no longer need to include the phrase "Retrieved from" before a URL
  • The singular "they" is now endorsed by APA as a gender-neutral pronoun
  • The running head on the title page no longer includes the phrase "RUNNING HEAD" and is no longer needed in student papers at all
  • Use only one space after a period at the end of a sentence
  • For more, see APA Guide: Summary of Changes from the University of Texas Arlington libraries
  • Also consult the online Concise APA Handbook (2021) by Lida, Reugg, and de Boer

The cheat sheet from Purdue now reflects APA 7 but the Harvard guide still refers to APA 6. Also take a look at:

Print copies of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association: The Official Guide to APA Style are available in the Doe Reference and the Social Research Library under BF76.7 P83 2020