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SLWK 380 - Foundations of Social Work Research I

What is a Literature Review?

A literature review is an essential component of every research project! It requires reviewing what credible scholars in the field have said, done, and found in order to help you:

  • Identify what is currently known in your area of interest
  • Establish an empirical/ theoretical/ foundation for your research
  • Identify potential gaps in knowledge that you might fill
  • Develop viable research questions and hypotheses
  • Determine appropriate methodologies
  • Decide upon the scope of your research
  • Demonstrate the importance of your research to the field
A literature review is not a descriptive annotated bibliography. All works included in the review must be read, evaluated, and analyzed, and synthesized, meaning that relationships between the works must also be discussed.

Helpful Tools for Literature Reviews

As you read, you'll encounter various ideas, disagreements, methods, and perspectives which can be hard to organize in a meaningful way. Because you'll be reading a number of resources, a synthesis matrix helps you record the main points of each source and document how sources relate to each other.

Introduction to Literature Reviews in Social Work

Kelsey Cheshire, Behavioral and Social Sciences Research Librarian from VCU Libraries, and Audrey Wells, Student Success Writing Advisor from the School of Social Work, present an introduction to literature reviews.