How to Write a Literature Review for Psychology Professionally


A psychology literature review is the study of works published by other authors on one of the topics in psychology. The literature review is conducted with the aim of designating a narrow question for the psychology study. Let’s find out how to write a literature review in psychology.

A literature review may be included in the introduction of a dissertation or stand out as an independent paper. By the way, it is not necessary to call the chapter “Literature Review” if you write a dissertation. This may be the theoretical part, or the title may be associated with the basic concepts of the work, such as the classification of the psychological diseases, or the use of psychology in everyday life.

As a rule, if a literature review becomes part of the introduction of a dissertation, then it describes only key works that are the theoretical framework of the study. A good review of psychology literature is not abstract, but analytical. This means that the author, in his or her preparation, must link the information found in publications with the tasks of his or her own research. Moreover, the narration should identify problem areas in the array of available scientific information on the topic of work. These may be conflicting judgments or underdeveloped aspects.

Key Recommendations on How to Write a Literature Review: Psychology

Primary literature search (bibliographic search) by research problem

The search for required literature is carried out by looking through journals, monographs, articles, reference materials, and by surfing the internet. Use all possible sources – it will help you to write a quality literature review in psychology.

Initial acquaintance with the found literature and conducting a superficial analysis of the content

  1. As the volume of literature in the process of work grows, it becomes necessary to organize work with the found bibliographic material correctly – to sort by degree of importance and complexity.
  2. When doing the work, the researcher must clearly identify which theories and concepts he or she accepts as basic, and which he or she only refers to in the process of analyzing literary sources, and also justify why.

Study literature on the chosen topic

To know how to write a psychology literature review correctly, you need to learn how to work with literature:

  1. General familiarization with the text on the table of contents
  2. A quick look at the content of the text to determine what is at stake
  3. Copying the most interesting ideas
  4. Verification, synthesis, and critical assessment of what you have written down, editing it to use in your work
  5. Checking whether you understood correctly individual words and thoughts with the help of reference books

Short summary

  1.  It is necessary to take notes (quote, paraphrase) of the most important points, creating a kind of data bank on the chosen topic that may be useful in further research work, such as interesting thoughts, facts, numbers, different viewpoints, quotes, and theses. Note forms can be different, and the most common are:
    ◦ Notes of the results of experiments, various kinds of measurements, and observations.
    ◦ Parts from the documents and sources. At the same time, it is recommended to indicate the borrowed source accurately, so that if necessary it is easy to find.
  2. It is important from the first stages of writing the literature review to correctly compile references to sources.
  3. Particular attention should be paid to citing texts (excerpts from the primary document).
  4. Each quote should be enclosed in quotes and have a link to a specific author and work with accurate information about the source data and a mandatory indication of the page where the material which you quoted is located. In the list of references, all initial data are indicated.

Classification of the material

The collected material should be grouped, compared, etc. The classification allows the shortest and most correct way to get into the essence of the topic under consideration. It helps to establish previously unnoticed links and patterns. Classification should be carried out during the entire process of working with the material. It is one of the important parts of the methodology of any research.

Writing a literature review in psychology

  1. To write a literature review, you should select the most authoritative sources. It is advisable to find the latest materials, because psychology is developing continuously. A review always starts with a description of the relevance of the problem studied. It talks about the existing viewpoints on the studied problem; the main representatives who worked on this issue are presented, along with their achievements.
  2. The introduction of a literature review usually doesn’t include an accurate description of the problem or the research results. It is better to have the description in chronological order with an indication of who conducted the research, the period, and under whose direction the research was conducted, by giving a brief description of the object of research and experiment.
  3. The main part is created on the basis of different materials. The review should start with a small description of the experiments performed, as well as a list of the results. It is necessary to make the reader imagine when, by whom, and on what object the research was conducted, in which certain results were obtained and, if necessary, he or she could turn to primary sources. In doing so, the experimental materials obtained in other studies must be handled carefully. It is not necessary to reproduce the entire tables, and limited to only individual indicators.
  4. The critical review of the literature must be analytical; therefore, the statement of facts should be approached critically. The literature analysis needs to be built around the problem. In analyzing, it is necessary to emphasize the similarity in the results of the work and their coincidence with theoretical assumptions.
  5. In the conclusion, the findings of the analysis of the literature and the goal of the planned research work are analyzed.

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