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A Crash Course in Lit Reviews for Social Work: Home

What is a Literature Review?

A literature review is a systematic review of the published literature on a specific topic or research question.  The literature review is designed to analyze-- not just summarize-- scholarly writings that are related directly to your research question.  That is, it represents the literature that provides background information on your topic and shows a correspondence between those writings and your research question.

General Lit Review Guidance Page

Types of Literature Reviews

Different projects involve different kinds of literature reviews with different kinds and amounts of work. And, of course, the "end products" vary.

Why is a Literature Review Important?

A literature review is important because it:

  • Explains the background of research on a topic.
  • Demonstrates why a topic is significant to a subject area.
  • Helps focus your own research questions or problems
  • Discovers relationships between research studies/ideas.
  • Suggests unexplored ideas or populations
  • Identifies major themes, concepts, and researchers on a topic.
  • Tests assumptions; may help counter preconceived ideas and remove unconscious bias.
  • Identifies critical gaps, points of disagreement, or potentially flawed methodology or theoretical approaches.
  • Indicates potential directions for future research.