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Article Literature Review

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Assignment # 2 (40 pts): Using PsychInfo or Summon to 1) collect and document a series of scientific articles on a subject of your choice, and 2)write a short literature review. These skills will be used later when you write a formal Introduction (literature review + hypothesis).

Step 1. You first need to know what a literature search is. In brief, it is simply a short summary of a group of references that pertain to a particular subject. In a research paper (also called a journal article) the literature review is found in the Introduction section of the paper.  In this section you, as the author, are trying to pull together relevant background information so that someone can understand the research problem that you are going to talk about in your research paper.

To see an example of a literature review, please see the handout entitled “sample_apa_style_litreview.pdf“ in Course Documents. This is a very valuable resource because it contains step-by-step commentary along with the example.

Step 2.  Use one or all of the following two approaches to finding current articles in Psychology.

  1. Go to the library home page ( and look in the center of the page for a search box which says “Search Summon”.

IF you are not on campus you may wish to start by clicking  “Off campus access” under the heading “Quick Links” on the left side of the page. Otherwise, you will be prompted later to sign in using your UC credentials.

Summon uses a Google-like interface to search all of the databases in the UC system. By putting in key words you will be able to track down full-text articles on the subject of your choice. It is an extremely powerful tool (owned by only a few universities); it is worth your time to practice with it and gain proficiency.

It is particularly useful to look up one article, find the full-text version of it—and then find references within that article—that you then track down to get more full text articles.

  1. Another approach is to go directly to a database of Psychology articles. Open and begin reading the Handout called “Using PsychInfo” which is in Course Documents (choose either  PowerPoint or pdf). While you are reading the handout log on to the library system and into PsychInfo. You must try out the system as you are reading about it. Experiment with trying different kinds of searches. Note the “Find it” box which helps you locate the full text version. As in the explanation in (1) above, use the references you find in one article to lead you to another article and so on.
  2. Use Google Scholar ( This is a wonderful tool for finding partial or full-text articles. One trick is to get complete articles is to put the words “full text” or “free” into the search window along with a term describing your desired subject (e.g., “bipolar”, “autism”).

Step 3. Once you have gained some facility with the system, it is time to pick a topic for your literature review.  Use the sites below for good ideas of what is going on currently in the field of psychology. NOTE. If some of these are no longer available simply Google “current psychology topics”.    APA site for current news    Use “Mind/Brain” tab   Great links to other sites.  Myriad of news stories

When you find something that looks interesting make sure that the news article has information on the name of the author (and perhaps also the school) who is doing the research. You will need this name (along with some key words) to track down the original article.

Step 4. (Part 1 of what you hand in).  Note that the purpose of this exercise is to track down a series of 5-6 articles which are all connected to the one you start with. Once you have found your first article, look in its references to find key articles in lit review. Then find one of those references—and again get into its lit review. TO DOCUMENT THIS PROCESS please use “copy and paste” to assemble the “document trail” that you used to find your references. You will need four  things for each article:  1) Show the complete title of the original article, NOT the summary title that might have been in a news clip where you first found it. 2) Show the authors and their institutions.  3) Show the abstract from the original article. 4) Show the main reference page from the original article. This may be messy, but it is necessary to show that your lit review was obtained from original articles that you have seen. This part of the assignment will require multiple pages to be an adequate document trail.

Step5.(Part 2 of what you hand in). Your final step will be to take the 5-6 references that you have found and write your own literature review modeled after the example (mentioned above). Here, you will want to be very aware of APA format. This literature review part of the assignment should be at least two pages double-spaced. Be sure to include a full list of the references you used at the end of the lit review.

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