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PSYC 321--Social Psychology: Literature Review

A collection of resources to assist in social psychology research.

Systematic Literature Review

Here are a couple of articles found in Sage Research Methods Online which give good definitions of what a Systematic Literature Review is and how to do one:

Dempster, M. (2003). Systematic review. In Robert L. Miller, & John D. Brewer

      (Eds.), The A-Z of Social Research. (pp. 312-317). London, England: SAGE

      Publications, Ltd. doi:

Pittaway, L. (2008). Systematic Literature Reviews . In R. Thorpe, &

      R. Holt (Eds.), The SAGE Dictionary of Qualitative Management Research.

      (pp. 217-219). London, United Kingdom: SAGE Publications Ltd.


Crisp, B.R. (2015). Systematic reviews: a social work perspective. Australian

      Social Work, 68 (3): 284-295.

Inclusion/Exclusion Criteria

Support for Systematic Reviews

Examples of Systematic Reviews

Prospero: International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews

This web site collects systematic reviews in process.  By reviewing them, you can see what is included in a systematic review.

Campbell Systematic Reviews

This Monograph series is an open access collection of peer-reviewed systematic reviews.  "Campbell systematic reviews follow structured guidelines and standards for summarizing the international research evidence on the effects of interventions in crime and justice, education, international development, and social welfare." Registration and protocols are available from the Campbell Collaboration Library of Systematic Reviews.

The Writing Process

The writing process:

Here are some general suggestions for organizing your paper.

1) Introduction:

  • Identify the general topic or issue.
  • Describe overall trends in what has been published about the topic.
  • Establish your reason (point of view) for reviewing this literature.
  • Explain any criteria you have used in comparing literature and the overall organization of the review (sequence).
  • If necessary, state why certain literature is not included (scope).

2) Body:

  • Group items by common factors (theme, school of thought, etc.). 
  • Decide on an overall organization for your review.  It might be chronological, by method used, or by theme, for example.
  • Summarize individual articles or items with as much or as little detail as the item merits, based on its comparative significance in the literature.  The more space you give something is a sign of its significance.
  • Start each paragraph with a strong sentence, and provide summary statements periodically in the paper to help readers understand your analysis.

3) Conclusion:

  • Summarize the major contributions from the significant studies in your review.
  • Evaluate the current "state of the art" for the topic you reviewed, pointing out any gaps or flaws you found, inconsistencies in theory, and issues that need additional study.
  • Wrap it up by showing how this review is related to a larger area of study, discipline, or profession.

4) Some final thoughts:

  • Consider using a citation management software product such as RefWorks.  This will help you keep track of what you have read and will format your paper and bibliography in the style you need (APA, MLA, etc.).
  • Organize your time and set intermediate deadlines as needed.
  • Allow yourself time to read and digest material. 
  • Allow time for editing and rewriting so that your writing is clear and consistent. 
  • Remember your purpose is to review other author's writings, not to build a case for your personal preferences. In general, personal statements should be limited to the introduction and/or conclusion of your paper.
  • Avoid jargon as much as possible. 
  • Sometimes it is helpful to have an impartial outside party read your paper before you submit it.