VCU Libraries

Research Guides

Social Work

What is a Literature Review?

A literature review is an essential component of every research project. It requires “re-viewing” 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.

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.