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PSYC 498: Honors Seminar

Research Guide for Honors Seminar

Writing Your Literature Review

Literature reviews should bring together theories and results from a number of studies to describe the "big picture" of your area of research and provide the context for your thesis research study. Your literature review should be a compelling narrative about the research trails you followed, how they build up to your study hypothesis, and why your research study is original and important.


1. Introduction: summarizes your research topic and puts it into context

  • Introduce the research topic: provide background that contextualizes what it is and why it matters
  • Frame the story: narrow the research topic to the studies you will discuss
  • End the introduction with an outline of the main points of the literature review and how you will address them

2. Body (organized by theme headings): presents the main arguments of your literature review, organized by theme. Prioritize and organize your themes and arguments to logically build the story you want to tell. Each of your themes should include the following sections:

  • Describe the relevant parts of each study and how they relate to the theme
  • Compare the studies to discuss the implications of their findings and whether they differ or are similar between studies
  • Evaluate the importance of each study, their implications for the theme, and where research on this theme should go from here

3. Conclusion: final evaluation, summarizes what you learned, and how the themes you discussed build to your proposed thesis research study

  • Restate your research topic from the introduction in different words
  • Briefly summarize your main themes and arguments
  • Synthesize your main themes and arguments to provide context for your research study and make the case that it would be original and important research
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