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BIOL3305/PSYC3305 Week 2 Handout – Literature Review
Read Chapter 2 in The Psychologist as Detective, 6th edition, and the links below using the objectives as
your guide.
Take notes in preparation of an in-class quiz. If you wish to use your notes for the quiz, they should be your
own work and either typed or hand-written, printed or electronic.
The learning objectives are as follows:
 Describe the characteristics of a good research idea.
1. Testable: the most important characteristic of a good research idea.
2. Likelihood of success: try to arrange a research project to be as close to reality as possible. The
closer to reality, the greater likelihood of success.
 Describe briefly sources of research ideas. What does ‘failure to replicate’ mean?
Sources of Research Ideas:
Nonsystematic sources: sources for research ideas that present themselves in an unpredictable
manner; a concerted attempt to locate researchable ideas has not been made. (inspiration,
serendipity, everyday occurences)
 Inspiration: “blind flash of genius” may be result of thinking of idea for a long time,
but we don’t see the process just the end results, the idea.
 Serendipity: a situation in which one phenomenon is sought by something else is
found. Skinner and Operant condition feeding dispenser.
 Everyday occurrences: daily encounters. “air crib”
Systematic Sources: thoroughly examined, carefully thought-out sources for research topics.
Study and knowledge of a specific topic.
 Past Research: helps highlight our lack of knowledge, isolates variables from previous
research experiments, replicates experiments only done once
 Theory: 2 main functions: organize data and guide further research.
 Classroom lectures: discussions may spark your interest and lead you to investigate.
Failure to replicate: what features of the initial research resulted in the occurrence of the
phenomenon under investigation? What was different about the replication that caused it to be
different?
 What is the role of developing a research question from your research idea?
Turn your idea into a question! It guides your research. “What would happen if they…” “I wonder if I
can make taking care of a baby easier…”
 What are the steps in reviewing the literature in a particular area?
o Selection of Index Terms: select relevant terms for your area of interest. Thesaurus of
Psychological Index Terms.
o Computerized Search of the Literature: Use the selected index terms to access a
computerized database such as PsychInfo or EBSCO. Google scholar.
o Obtaining Relevant Publications: use a combination of reading and note taking,
photocopying, interlibrary loa, and writing or emailing for reprints to obtain needed
materials.
o Integrating the Results of the Literature Search: develop a plan that will facilitate the
integration and usefulness of the results of the literature search.
 Describe how to integrate the results of the literature search, including the textbook’s suggestions
for organizing your results. How does this compare to an APA-formatted paper?
o Reference Information: list the complete citation in APA format for the article you are
abstracting. This will facilitate the reference section of the research report.
o Introduction: why did the researchers conduct this experiment? What theory does this
research seek to support? What theory does this research seek to support?
o Method:
 Participants: describe the participants of the experiment, list specifics such as
species, number, age, and sex.

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Apparatus: describe the equipment used by the researcher. Note any deviations from
the standard apparatus as well as any unusual features.
 Procedure: describe the conditions under which the participants were tested.
o Results: which statistical tests did the author use? What were the results of these
statistical tests?
o Discussion and Evaluation: what conclusions did the author reach? How do these
conclusions relate to theory and past research? Describe any criticisms of the research that
occurred to you as you read the article.
o *List all info from articles on 1 sheet in alphabetical order to make it easy to
compare results!
Review the literature databases in the chapter.
o We will focus on using the College’s EBSCO databases, which includes PsycINFO, and the
free Medline database (Pubmed).
Describe two ways for obtaining articles not freely available or in the College’s library.
Interlibrary loan: department in the library.
Directly requesting a reprint from the author.
o Describe how to request articles through our Library.
 Go to the Portal. Click on Library Databases button in the Launchpad. Click on
Services. Read the section ‘Interlibrary Loan Services’.
 Follow the above steps and click on the link that says “Interlibrary Loan Request
Form.” Fill out this form and click submit. 1 week for articles 2 weeks for books.
Describe in your own words the difference between a primary research article and a review article.
Use this link to guide your answer: http://resources.library.lemoyne.edu/content.php?
pid=104248&sid=784351.
Primary research article: authors present an original set of findings from original research and
experiments. True, original experiment. Results and methods sections present. Primary source.
Review article: authors analyze existing research and do not perform original research.
Summarizing other authors’ work. Focus on general topics and bring together all relevant research
and articles into one review. No sections on results and methods due to no research. Secondary
source.
o Note that their link for a primary research article is not accessible. Use this as an
example:
o Primary: http://www.jneurosci.org/content/25/36/8295.full.pdf+html
 Note that a research article is a primary source and a review article is a secondary
source. Be able to describe the difference between the two.
Describe in your own words what ‘peer-reviewed’ means. Use this link to guide your answer:
http://library.sdsu.edu/reference/news/what-does-peer-review-mean. Include examples of sources
that are and are not peer-reviewed.
o Peer-reviewed means that a board of reviewers in the subject area of the research reviewed
the materials for quality standards before they were allowed to be published.
o Ex of peer-reviewed:
http://web.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.ololcollege.edu:2048/ehost/detail/detail?
vid=4&sid=d8c563e8-2d28-436a-8b217aabcaf6caa2%40sessionmgr111&hid=124&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d
%3d#AN=2015-29913-030&db=psyh
o Ex of not peer-reviewed:
http://web.b.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.ololcollege.edu:2048/ehost/detail/detail?
vid=6&sid=d8c563e8-2d28-436a-8b217aabcaf6caa2%40sessionmgr111&hid=124&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d
%3d#AN=25905853&db=mdc
Results of the search
o Describe questions to consider when you evaluate the journal articles you’ve found in your
searches



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What conclusions did the author reach? How do these conclusions relate to theory and past
research? Describe any criticisms of the research that occurred to you as you read the
article.
Describe the different types of journal articles (This is not in the textbook)
 In vitro research – typically cells grown in the lab (‘cultured cells’) in biological
research
 Animal research (non-human animals in biological and psychological research)
 Human research (in biological and psychological research) Use this link to guide your
answer: http://himmelfarb.gwu.edu/tutorials/studydesign101/.
 Case reports: An article that describes and interprets an individual case,
often written in the form of a detailed story.
 Case control study: A study that compares patients who have a disease or
outcome of interest (cases) with patients who do not have the disease or
outcome (controls), and looks back retrospectively to compare how frequently
the exposure to a risk factor is present in each group to determine the
relationship between the risk factor and the disease. Observational study.
 Cohort study: A study design where one or more samples (called cohorts)
are followed prospectively and subsequent status evaluations with respect to
a disease or outcome are conducted to determine which initial participants
exposure characteristics (risk factors) are associated with it.
 Randomized controlled double blind studies (what is double blind?): A
study design that randomly assigns participants into an experimental group or
a control group. As the study is conducted, the only expected difference
between the control and experimental groups in a randomized controlled trial
(RCT) is the outcome variable being studied. Double blind is the random
assignment of test subjects to experimental and control groups.
 Meta-analyses: a method for systematically combining pertinent qualitative
and quantitative study data from several selected studies to develop a single
conclusion that has greater statistical power. Statistically stronger than a
single analysis due to increased number of subjects and greater diversity.

Things to keep in mind as you search for your three (minimum) journal articles for your literature review:
 Criteria for acceptable journal articles
o Primary research articles are preferred
o Review articles (only use one in your reference list; NO BOOK REVIEWS!)
o Biological or psychological research (must advance a topic in biology or psychology)
o Published within the last five years
 Characteristics of a GOOD literature review
o Identifies areas of controversy
o Identifies weaknesses in existing research
o Help to develop new research questions from existing research