Literature Review: Social Sciences



Unlike research articles that tend to focus on the methods and results to document how a particular hypothesis was tested, the main focus of literature reviews in psychology is to provide a general overview of the current findings in a particular field and to encourage further research.



First, introduce the research question – what the question is and why it is worth examining. Next, narrow the research question to the studies discussed, briefly outline the organization of the paper, and describe the studies in detail. Then, compare and evaluate the studies. Lastly, discuss the implications of the studies.



Selecting a topic is the hardest part of writing a good literature review in psychology. A fruitful topic covers a well-defined and well-studied area of research. Start early to select your topic and collect articles. Do not underestimate the time and effort required before you can start writing. Plan to budget at least half of your time choosing and researching your topic, and the other half writing about it.

When writing the literature review, remember the goal is to synthesize the research, not just to describe it. Based on your comparisons, evaluate the work done in the area you are researching by stating its strengths, weaknesses, and what remains to be done.