Chose any topic based off instructions relating to psychology

Write a 4–5-page literature review that synthesizes the sources you found related to your research question.

What Is a Literature Review?

Literature reviews are a critical component of scholarly research. Writing a literature review in your field is one of the most helpful things you will learn to do as a graduate learner. Every time you write a literature review, you gather, gain, and synthesize ideas from within your field. By doing so, you add to the depth of your knowledge.

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For this assignment, write a literature review on a topic of professional interest to you. This is an opportunity for you to explore research of interest to you and develop a deeper understanding of an issue. Review the following resources to gain an understanding of what literature reviews are and how to write them. The following resources will help you get started with your Literature Review and provide you with the tools to for completing the assignment:


Select a Topic

Choosing a research topic is not a trivial matter. While a great many topics in psychology may be of interest, when you put forth the time and effort to research and write on a topic, it is best to focus on one that will help you learn more about your specialization area and one in which you have a professional interest.

Complete the following steps to select a topic relevant to your area of specialization in psychology:

  1. Read through the home page of the Psychology Library Research Guide. This guide will be available throughout your program. Take time to browse the topics. Scroll down to the Suggested Specialization Topics section for topic ideas, and select the ones that are most interesting to you and relevant to your specialization.
  2. Review the Topics section of the American Psychological Association website for supplementary ideas relevant to your psychology vision and goals.
  3. Review the Improve Your Topic page of the Library Research and Information Literacy Skills site for additional explanation and resources to help clarify the steps for selecting a topic and locating articles.
  4. Consider the following questions to explore further ideas if you have not yet found any inspiring topics:
    • Can you remember an experience in your personal or professional life that you did not understand or would like to explore further?
    • Have you read anything in a discussion post, your courseroom, a textbook, or a course reading that you wanted to learn more about?
    • Have you observed anything unusual or intriguing recently (on television, online, in the newspaper, or in your job) that piqued your curiosity?
  5. Rank the ideas you came up with and select the most important topic to pursue during the course. Keep your list of unused topics for future courses. You will have many opportunities for research throughout your program.

Formulate a Research Question

Once you have chosen a topic for your Literature Review, your next step is to formulate a single clear, concise, and specific research question related to the topic. The question should not be so narrow that it is difficult to research, nor too broad or multifaceted that your research task seems endless.

Use the four Ws—who, what, where, and why—to think about how to define and narrow your area of inquiry:

  • Who: Define the population you are concerned with in terms such as age, ethnic background, special characteristics, or other factors.
  • What: Focus on a particular issue (such as violence, family issues, or poverty) that the population is facing.
  • Where: Determine a specific type of setting where the issue would be observed, or where an intervention would impact the target population. Private practice, clinic, school, or others?
  • Why: Identify the possible benefits of this research.

As an example, if your topic is adolescent depression, your research question might be: "What biological factors are associated with adolescent depression?" Try to state your research question in a single sentence that you will answer in your research and writing.

Capella University Library

As you delve into research and literature related to your interests, the Capella University Library is an invaluable tool for locating high-quality research in psychology. As you learned in the University Orientation Seminar (UOS), the library pays for more than 70,000 online journals, 190,000 e-books, and 1.7 million dissertations, selected specifically for Capella learners. For instance, you have access to the PsycINFO database, published by the APA. This database includes over 2.6 million records, 98 percent of which are peer-reviewed content, and many are full-text versions of articles.

Take some time to explore the Capella University Library. One helpful introduction is Tour the Library. If you have not already done so in your orientation, take a moment to view this guided tour. It will familiarize you with the Capella library and how to use it for your coursework. Specific to psychology, the Psychology Library Research Guide covers the top psychology resources.

Develop Library Research Skills

Learning how to find credible information and apply it to a problem is a critical skill used in nearly all areas of life, but such skills are particularly essential for your professional and academic development. This assignment will require you to find scholarly articles on a topic of professional interest to you.

Leveraging the Library for Your Literature Review

In your Literature Review, you are required to find at least three scholarly articles related to your research topic from the Capella University Library. Now that you have defined your topic and research question, you are ready to delve into scholarly resources. Spend some time determining your keywords and searching the databases for relevant, scholarly articles you can use for your assignment. An efficient strategy for locating high-quality research is to focus on peer-reviewed sources.

Determining Keywords

Your first step to finding your articles is to determine the keywords you will use to conduct your search. Select appropriate search terms, or keywords, to use to find articles.

  • Choose terms that are essential to your research question and are unlikely to return unrelated results. For example, if your research question is "What are the most effective teen suicide prevention programs?" keywords could be teen suicide prevention.
    • Keep your keywords simple. Use phrases of 1–3 words.
    • Do not include small words like a, of, the, or is.
    • Do not include generic keywords like effects, impact, or consequences.
    • Remember that databases match exact keywords. Try alternative terms in your searches to locate more resources relevant to your research question. If you use teen for a keyword, alternative terms could include teenager, adolescent, and youth.
  • Familiarize yourself with the resources available in the Capella library related to your research interests and your specialization.
  • The Searching Journal Articles section of the Psychology Library Research Guide will help you determine effective keywords.

Searching Library Databases

Next, you need to determine the Capella library databases you should use to make your search efficient. Remember, your goal is to find 3–4 peer-reviewed articles in the Capella library related to your topic and research question.

Evaluating Resources

Hopefully, you will find a number of articles related to your research question. When selecting the articles you will use in your Literature Review, you need to be able to evaluate the credibility of the articles and journals you found in your search. The Evaluate Sources section of the PSY5002 & PSY5005 Research Guide provides criteria to help you choose 3–4 credible resources.

At a basic level, each chosen article should meet most of the following criteria.

  • Gives the author’s title and affiliation.
  • Is longer than five pages.
  • Includes literature review, methodology, and results sections.
  • Includes references, footnotes, or a bibliography of works cited.

In addition, you can also use the following guidelines to evaluate the merit of the peer-reviewed scholarly articles you have collected:

  • Relevance:
    • How is the information in the article relevant to your research question?
    • Are all aspects of your research question covered in the article?
  • Credibility and authority:
    • What are the author’s credentials (degrees, certifications, experience, et cetera) and professional affiliations (such as university or professional organizations)?
    • Is the author an expert on the topic he or she is writing about?
      • If this information is not provided in the article, search for the author’s name on the Internet to find a personal website, university web page, or curriculum vitae.
    • Is the publisher well regarded? What evidence do you have to trust the publisher?
      • Look at the publisher’s website. What else does it publish?
  • Timeliness:
    • When was the article published? Is the source timely?
    • Is it important to have current information to support your research question?
  • Sources:
    • Does the article use quality sources and evidence?
    • What sources does the author use as evidence (books, journals, websites, et cetera)? Is there a long bibliography?
  • Audience:
    • Who is the intended audience for this source? Is it intended for other scholars or researchers?
    • Does it contain practical information that is more useful for a person working in the field? Is it educational and written for students?
  • Bias and point of view:
    • Is there any obvious bias or incorrect information?
    • Are multiple sides of the issue included?
    • Are the author’s arguments based on opinions or facts? Are they backed up with citations?

Analysis of Sources

Begin by documenting the most important elements of your selected sources. Answer the following questions for at least three of the best articles you have selected:

  • Main idea: What is the purpose or thesis statement of the article? (This may be located in the introduction or conclusion of the paper.) How is it relevant to your research question?
  • Major points: What conclusions about the main idea did the author come to in the article? Do the major points support the main idea?
  • Supporting evidence: What arguments, citations, examples, data, and other evidence support the author’s conclusions? Is the evidence convincing?
  • Patterns or themes: Are there any ideas or recurring information that the author keeps coming back to throughout the article?
  • Application: How do the techniques, strategies, best practices, and other findings in the article apply to practice in psychology and in your specialization?
  • Connection to research question: How does this information directly link or apply to your research question? If you have trouble coming up with a connection, do not use it in your assignment.

Selecting and Using Sources

The Selecting and Using Sources activity will help you learn how to evaluate sources, save time in your research process, and increase the effectiveness of your writing.

Synthesis of Literature Into a Cohesive Review

Your next task is to integrate your research into a cohesive review of literature in response to your initial research question. Compare the research articles you have chosen. Identify at least three key themes, or focuses of inquiry, that are relevant to your research question and present in each article. These themes may be based on:

  • Related aspects of research questions.
  • Related or differing conclusions.
  • Other factors or ideas the studies have in common.
  • Other points of contrast between the studies.

The themes you identify should be based on content, not research methods or how the study was conducted.

Refer to the following guidance for synthesizing and developing themes:

Synthesis Example

Synthesis is a critical thinking skill that can be challenging to master. Read through the following example to better understand how to reach synthesis in your paper:

Supplemental Research Resources

The following resources will help you to further improve your writing skills and prepare you for success on the Literature Review assignment:

Remember that the Capella Writing Center has many resources that can help you on specific areas of your writing.

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