When I say that your literature review needs
to be “integrative” what exactly does that mean?
There are four general things you should do in your literature review to make it integrative.
If you look in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, page 10.
Read carefully this paragraph about literature reviews.
And briefly I’ll go over the 4 things you should be doing.
The first bullet point here: “Define and clarify the problem.”
Second bullet point: “Summarize previous investigations to inform the reader of the state of research.”
So you can tell the reader what all IS known based on peer-reviewed academic studies so
far. Tell them what the state of the art is like.
Tell them how these studies tend to be done perhaps.
Third bullet point “Identify relations, contradictions, gaps, and inconsistencies in the literature.”
So there you’re telling what’s NOT known, NOT clear, confusing, or needs further clarification.
Fourth bullet point: “Suggest the next step or steps in solving the problem.”
I don’t care if you organize your literature review chronologically with “They used to
think that, then they thought that, and then the next wave or the next fad was this.”
Or you could arrange it by the different schools of thought.
Or you could arrange it by “these advances came along, and then everything changed to
this.” But you need to organize it and make it integrative
in those 4 ways. Use peer reviewed articles only.
See last week’s information for how to identify an article as peer reviewed.
No Psychology Today. No newspaper stories. Nothing from the TV or the Internet at large.
No quotes from your Grandma. These all need to be academic sources in peer
reviewed journals. Work alone. This is not teamwork.
You don’t want what you write to match what a classmate writes. Because you wind up with
a zero for plagiarism if you do that. Speaking of plagiarism: Any time you put anything
in your lit. review that you read somewhere, you must say where it came from.
Even if you re-worded it. To avoid plagiarism, give credit to where
you found that out — unless it’s common knowledge, like saying “the sky is blue.”
In which case, nobody knows where they first learned it.
Do be telegraphic. You’re going to write just a little bit about
each research article that you read. Not too detailed. And then tell what it means
for the hypotheses and the state of the art of the research that you’re studying.
Let’s talk about what a literature review is not, and some more common mistakes that
you’re going to need to avoid in writing your literature review.
A literature review is not a meta-analysis. So don’t use that word for it.
A meta-analysis is when a psychologist takes a bunch of studies and subjects them to new
statistical analyses all together and writes it up.
What you’re doing is different. A literature review is not a meta analysis.
A literature review is a narrative, a story in plain English.
A literature review is not an annotated bibliography. So while you will cite your sources — for
example if I said in my lit. review “a literature
review is not an annotated bibliography” and if I had learned it in an article by Swart
in 2014 — I would very telegraphically go parenthesis, Swart, comma, 2014, end parenthesis,
period. I would not in the BODY of this narrative,
of this literature review put the whole citation. Will the reader get it eventually? Yes.
Because in a separate section after your narrative in the literature review, you make a page
that says “References” and their you put the full reference.
The full reference has name of the journal, name of the article, year, what pages it’s
on, etcetera. And it’s in a special order and a special
format that you can find in the book.
So don’t make your body of your literature review an annotated bibliography.
Make it a narrative. Full sentences in English. And you’re going to use this APA style, a
very telegraphic way of citing references. There are several ways to do it. And again,
they’re in the book. Your literature review is not your research
design wiki. So don’t just lift stuff from that wiki and
throw it in your literature review. A literature review is not about you,
not about your research hypothesis, not about your research plans,
not about “I’m thinking about doing this that or the other.”
It’s about other peoples’ research only. So focus. Not on yourself. Not on your plans
yet. That comes later in a full APA paper.
And a literature review is not an abstract, not a methods section, and not a results section.
Again, you can see examples in here. One of the most helpful things before you
write your review, is you can look at the example in the book.
And you’ll see the level of detail and analysis that’s in there, to get a sense of typically
what the level of detail is going to be.