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Experimental Psychology: Review Articles for Experimental Psychology

Databases for Literature Reviews

What is a Review Article?

What is a review article? 

A review article is a long review of the literature on a research topic, theory, or academic discipline/sub-discipline. A review article is often peer-reviewed by experts in that topic, theory, or academic discipline. Topics are selective or comprehensive. Review articles are organized chronologically, thematically, or methodologically. Most often a person writing a review article is a specialist. 

Review articles attempt to summarize what is known about a topic at the time of writing. So it is a good introduction to themes in the research conversations that happen in scholarly journals. Even an older review article will have value because it will usually give students an idea of major issues of concern. Students should take notes of the subheadings and headings in a review article and pay attention to the names of journals and articles cited in the article. The subheadings can make great search terms for novice researchers who are unfamiliar with the disciplinary jargon. The researcher should follow up frequently cited journals. Additionally the researcher may want to take note of older articles because they are probably important if scholars are still referring to them 20 years after they are written.

How to Find a Review Article in PyschInfo and PsyArticles

In a database like PsycInfo or PsycArticles, scroll down the advanced search page until you see the methodology search. Select literature review and type your keywords, and press search. This search will show you how many review articles are currently contained in the database.

How to Find a Review Article by Subject

In PsychINFO do the following to retrieve review articles:

  1. Type "literature reviews" in the search box
  2. Add a keyword in the second search box
  3.  Click Search
  4. Switch between Subject Search and the default search. You will get more precise, but fewer results with the Subject Search, and you will get more results using the default search.

 

Elements of a Review Article

Carefully analyzing a review article, the title page, and abstract can help you gather more scholarly papers on the same topic.

1 Authors: Authors who write review articles are experts in that particular topic. Try Googling the name of the author and the name of the university to see if you can find their web page which usually lists their expertise, publications, and research interests. Look at their publications, and identify if they have any co-authors with whom they frequently collaborate. This is one way of identifying experts on a topic or field.

 2 Keywords: Keywords highlight the jargon associated with a field of research or topic. Use these terms as search terms, and they will help you retrieve better articles. If an article does not provide keywords, look in the abstract and extract the keywords from the text. Remember keywords represent very important concepts explained in the article. 

The headings and subheadings in the article represent the major themes of investigation. Themes in research can overlap so it's important to read all of the headings and subheadings.

As you read the article you will want to analyze and extract the keywords and use them as search terms. Finding good articles requires you to have a good command of the academic jargon. The more you do research, the more jargon you learn, and the better researcher you become. 

Identifying Important Journals in the Reference List

The bibliography or reference list can be found at the end of a scholarly review article. When looking at the list of citations, you will want to identify the names of journals that are cited multiple times. In this example we have journals with the title J. Appl. Psychol. or Harvard Bus. Rev. These are abbreviations for the Journal of Applied Psychology and the Harvard Business Review. If you're not sure what the journal title is you can always Google the journal abbrevitation. and often it will lead you to the right journal page where you can get the full title of the journal.