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Health Psychology Literature Reviews: Step #5 -- Writing the Literature Review

Step #5 -- Writing the Literature Review

A good literature review shows signs of understanding of the issues related to the topic, as well as analytical thinking.  This is shown through the connections you are able to make between the sources reviewed.

There are usually five parts to a literature review:

1)  Abstract

  • Summary of the motivation for selecting the topic
  • Statement about the types of literature used
  • Summary of your findings
  • Conclusions based on your findings

2)  Introduction

  • Define general topic, or issue.  (This provides the reader with a context for the literature review.)
  • Point out trends in what has been published about the topic
  • Point out disagreements in the theory, methodology, evidence, and conclusions
  • Point out gaps in research and scholarship (where is further research needed?)
  • Explain the criteria used in analyzing and comparing the literature
  • Explain the organization of the review and why certain literature is or is not included in your review

3)  Body

  • Your discussion of the resources used.  This can be organized in different ways, for example: by chronology, by themes, or by methodology
  • You may also talk about questions for further research

4)  Conclusion

  • Provide some insight into the relationship between the central topic of the review and the larger area of study

5)  Bibliography

  • A list of the sources you used cited in the appropriate format