Writing a Literature Review

  • Roy F. Baumeister


Literature reviews occupy an important corner of the world of scientific activity, yet most scientists do not receive training in how to write them. In the early days of psychological research, many people did their research based on intuitions and personal insights, and one did not have to spend much time in background reading simply because there was not much to read. As our field’s knowledge base expands month by month, however, it becomes increasingly important to be able to master the amount of information already published. New ideas increasingly have to build on previously published works.


Narrative Review Null Result Null Finding Broad Question Good Guess 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Archer, J. (2000). Sex differences in aggression between heterosexual partners: A meta-analytic review. PsychologicalBulletin, 126, 651–680.Google Scholar
  2. Baumeister, R. F. (1990). Suicide as escape from self. Psychological Review, 97, 90–113.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Baumeister, R. F. (2000). Gender differences in erotic plasticity: The female sex drive as socially flexible and responsive. Psychological Bulletin, 126, 347–374.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baumeister, R. F., Catanese, K. R., & Vohs, K. D. (2001). Is there a gender difference in strength of sex drive?Theoretical views, conceptual distinctions, and a review of relevant evidence. Personality and Social PsychologyReview, (in press, to appear shortly.)Google Scholar
  5. Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1995). The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamentalhuman motivation. Psychological Bulletin, 117, 497–529.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Baumeister, R. F., & Leary, M. R. (1997). Writing narrative literature reviews. Review of General Psychology, 1,311–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bem, D. J. (1995). Writing a review article for Psychological Bulletin. Psychological Bulletin, 118, 172–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cohen, J. (1977). Statistical power analysis for the behavioral sciences. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  9. Cooper, H. (1990). Meta-analysis and the integrative research review. In C. Hendrick, & M. Clark (Eds.), Researchmethods in personality and social psychology (p. 142–163). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  10. Cooper, H., & Hedges, L.V. (1994). The handbook of research synthesis. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.Google Scholar
  11. Darley, J. M., & Gross, P. (1983). A hypothesis-confirming bias in labeling effects. Journal of Personality and SocialPsychology, 44, 20–33.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. DePaulo, B. M., Chariton, K., Cooper, H., Lindsay, J. J., & Muhlenbruck, L. (1997). The accuracy-confidence correlation in the detection of deception. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 1, 346–357.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Hedges, L. V., & Olkin, I. (1985). Statistical methods for meta-analysis. Orlando, FL: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  14. Kerr, N. L. (1998). HARKing: Hypothesizing after the results are known. Personality and Social Psychology Review,2, 196–217.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kunda, Z. (1990). The case for motivated reasoning. Psychological Bulletin, 108, 480–498.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Lord, C. G., Ross, L., & Lepper, M. R. (1979). Biased assimilation and attitude polarization: The effects ofprior theories on subsequently considered evidence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 2098–2109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Oliver, M. B., & Hyde, J. S. (1993). Gender differences in sexuality: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 114,29–51.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Rosenthal, R. (1983) Assessing the statistical and social importance of the effects of psychotherapy. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 51, 4–13.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Rosenthal, R. (1991). Meta-analytic procedures for social research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  20. Sternberg, R. J. (1991). Editorial. Psychological Bulletin, 109, 3–4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Wolf, F. M. (1986). Meta-analysis: Quantitative methods for research synthesis. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roy F. Baumeister
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PsychologyCase Western Reserve UniversityClevelandUSA

Personalised recommendations