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PSY 2012 Honors - Prof. Franco: Literature Review Assignment

Research Assignments for Psychology Honors

Your Assignment

Students will write a literature review using psychological resources (both peer reviewed and reputable websites). The general theme is positive psychology.

Topics on Positive Psychology

  • Human-animal interaction and developmental disabilities
  • Personality (introversion/extroversion) and happiness
  • Happiness and perception of negative events
  • Work-family balance
  • Integrating positive psychology into family therapy
  • Social relationships and life longevity
  • Gratitude and happiness
  • Cultural sensitivity and perception of self
  • Mindfulness and anxiety
  • Happiness and poverty

What is a Literature Review?

A literature review surveys scholarly articles, books and other sources (e.g. dissertations, conference proceedings) relevant to a particular issue, area of research, or theory, providing a description, summary, and critical evaluation of each work. The purpose is to offer an overview of significant literature published on a topic.
 
Components

Similar to primary research, development of the literature review requires four stages:

  • Problem formulation—which topic or field is being examined and what are its component issues?
  • Literature search—finding materials relevant to the subject being explored
  • Data evaluation—determining which literature makes a significant contribution to the understanding of the topic
  • Analysis and interpretation—discussing the findings and conclusions of pertinent literature
Literature reviews should comprise the following elements:
  • An overview of the subject, issue or theory under consideration, along with the objectives of the literature review
  • Division of works under review into categories (e.g. those in support of a particular position, those against, and those offering alternative theses entirely)
  • Explanation of how each work is similar to and how it varies from the others
  • Conclusions as to which pieces are best considered in their argument, are most convincing of their opinions, and make the greatest contribution to the understanding and development of their area of research
In assessing each piece, consideration should be given to:
  • Provenance—What are the author's credentials? Are the author's arguments supported by evidence (e.g. primary historical material, case studies, narratives, statistics, recent scientific findings)?
  • Objectivity—Is the author's perspective even-handed or prejudicial? Is contrary data considered or is certain pertinent information ignored to prove the author's point?
  • Persuasiveness—Which of the author's theses are most/least convincing?
  • Value—Are the author's arguments and conclusions convincing? Does the work ultimately contribute in any significant way to an understanding of the subject?