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Psychology Research   Tags: psychology, subject_guide  

Last Updated: Sep 1, 2014 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates
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Conducting a Literature Review

From OWL at Purdue:

A literature review is a critical summary of what the scientific literature says about your specific topic or question. Often student research in APA fields falls into this category. Your professor might ask you to write this kind of paper to demonstrate your familiarity with work in the field pertinent to the research you hope to conduct.

A literature review typically contains the following sections:

  • Title page
  • Introduction section
  • List of references

Some instructors may also want you to write an abstract for a literature review, so be sure to check with them when given an assignment. Also, the length of a literature review and the required number of sources will vary based on course and instructor preferences.

NOTE: A literature review and an annotated bibliography are not synonymous; see the link below for info on how to write an Annotated Bibliography.

Citation Analysis

Want to explore the impact of an author, article or journal?  Explore the resources on this guide:

Career/Graduate School Resources

  • Testing & Education Reference Center
    Use this database to take GRE (and other) practice exams, study the online GRE guide, explore graduate schools, build your resume and more!
  • Vault Career Library
    Provides information to more than 3,000 companies, 40 industries, and over fifty career paths, including over ninety full-text career guides, as well as employer profiles, articles, message boards, and advice on careers, resumes, and cover letters.
  • Occupational Outlook Handbook
    See this U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics resource for information on hundreds of different types of jobs and careers. Find job search tips, plus information about the job market in each state, etc.

Indexes & Databases for Psychology-related research

Start your research with PsycInfo or Web of Science, two great databases with a lot of behavioral sciences and interdisciplinary content!

  • PsycInfo
    The primary database for research in psychology, PsycInfo provides access to the international literature in psychology and related behavioral and social sciences, including psychiatry, sociology, anthropology, education, pharmacology, and linguistics.
  • Web of Science
    This combined database searches the Web of Science Core Collection databases (Science Citation Index and Social Science Citation Index), Medline, BIOSIS, and Zoological Record. The Web of Science Core Collection component allows citation searching to determine what papers cite a particular author/paper.
  • Medline (on Web of Science)
    Medline is the premiere medical abstracts database covering the fields of medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, the health care system, and the preclinical sciences. This version of Medline provides links to our journal holdings through the CHECK MSU AVAILABILITY feature.
  • PubMED (original Medline search interface)
    The original Medline database interface, PubMED does not provide links to MSU journal holdings. Search the Journals by Title database to determine if the library owns a journal from which you need an article. See Medline description above for coverage.
  • Sociological Abstracts
    Covers the international literature in sociology and related disciplines in the social and behavioral sciences.
  • SportDiscus
    Use for researching the psychology of sport, training, and conditioning. May find some overlap with PsycInfo and other databases, but some unique content as well.
  • More databases for psychology-related research
  • Criminal Justice Abstracts
    Does your research topic overlap with criminology, juvenile delinquency, etc.? Then search this database in addition to PsycInfo, Web of Science, etc.
  • Business Databases
    Does your topic overlap with organizational culture, business or industry, human resources, or other areas within business-related fields? Then search one or more of the business databases, in addition to PscyInfo, Web of Science, etc.
  • CatSearch
    Use CatSearch to search multiple databases at once; most but not all of the MSU Library's subscription databases are included in this search tool. Note the ability to limit to peer reviewed publications, etc.

WWW Resources



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Mary Anne Hansen
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Need help? Article unavailable? Looking for more research on a topic? Stop by the Research Center in the Renne Library (1st floor) to ask or use the other options below.

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Learn about using EndNote citation management software to organize the citations that you gather in your research.


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