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For professionals interested in the practical application of psychology and behavioural science and looking to develop more evidence-based practice, literature reviews can offer a good starting point towards informing business decisions.

Academic in nature, literature reviews can be a powerful tool when it comes to addressing specific business problems and questions. They provide a synthesised view of the evidence and can lead to new ways of looking at a situation. Both of which can help inform the way a business navigates a way through a challenge or manages a concern.

Conducting a good literature review requires the ability to scientifically and systemically evaluate previous studies of interest, consider the arguments, assumptions, theories and methods and recognise validity and insights of each study in the round.

Studies are published in all sorts of journals (and elsewhere) and include both studies in both academic/laboratory and real-world, commercial environments. Knowing how and where to look, what to look for and getting access are also important skills for ensuring the review is focussed and meaningful insights can be drawn out.

The key starting point to a useful literature review is, of course, the question that needs to be answered. Or the research brief. This is a really important point. Too narrow a focus in a niche area can yield few (if any) valuable insights. Too broad and it will be difficult to focus in on what’s important.

For example. You might be interested in understanding the link between sleep and some element of business performance. Your instinct tells you there is a link. But how do you demonstrate this so that you can engage senior colleagues to investigate how your business is experiencing these effects with the view to build a programme of interventions?

In this example, a literature review can go a long way to making the point. But can also be sufficient enough to inform policy decisions.

For example, you might be interested in understanding the possibilities of what can be achieved when considering human factors in high-stress scenarios. Your question might be ‘can a sound judgement be made about how people react and if so, how?’. Your objective being to be able to account for this behaviour in training.

Or you might simply require a useful report to update you on the current thinking and science on a key area of interest.

Externally conducted literature reviews, by experienced academic and scientific researchers, have the benefit of being delivered efficiently and of being highly objective. Objectivity comes as a result of being independent of management and organisational pressures and practices which have the potential to introduce a variety of biases.

With academic and scientific experts in the fields of psychology and neuroscience, The Science Behind can provide you and your colleagues with that foundation or stepping-stone of insight you need to move forward on issues that are important for your business.