Industrial-Organizational Psychology Research Resources

What is a literature review?

A literature review examines a large swath of information published on a given topic for a specific reason. Those reasons could be to:

  • show the progression of research;
  • attribute meaning;
  • reinterpret findings;
  • assert relevance.

At first glance a literature review may seem like a glorified summary; however, literature reviews are the avenues by which information on a given topic is synthesized. While effectively summarizing information, literature reviews examine research through a big picture lens.

Literature Review VS Research Paper

Is a literature review different from a traditional research paper?

Most definitely! Academic research papers are intended to introduce new arguments. Literature reviews, on the other hand, summarize and synthesize existing arguments and ideas but don't offer new contributions to the field. Literature reviews tackle questions such as:

  • What do we know about a given topic?
  • Are there any gaps in the known research or our understanding?

Using a Synthesis Matrix

As you read, you'll encounter various ideas, disagreements, methods, and perspectives which can be hard to organize in a meaningful way.

A synthesis matrix helps you record the main points of each source and document how sources relate to each other.

Writing for a General Audience

Know Your Audience

It's important to write for the intended audience. This could mean writing for individuals with varying levels of familiarity with industrial-organizational psychology. Consider the background, professional interests, and discipline-specific knowledge of your readers.

Avoid Jargon and Technical Terms

Minimize technical jargon and complex terminology. If technical terms are necessary, provide clear and concise explanations. Consider that your readers may not have a specialized background in psychology.

Use Clear and Concise Language

Use clear and straightforward language. Avoid unnecessarily complex sentences and aim for simplicity without sacrificing accuracy. Each sentence should convey a single, easily digestible idea.

Edit and Revise

Writing for a general audience often requires multiple drafts. Read your work with fresh eyes and make improvements to enhance clarity and engagement.

Video Tutorials on Literature Reviews

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Brittany Davis
Brittany Davis
Assistant University Librarian
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