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A Crash Course in Lit Reviews for Social Work: Getting Started

Planning Your Literature Review

Writing a literature review will take time to gather and analyze the research relevant to your topic, so it best to start early and give yourself enough time to gather and analyze your sources.  The process of writing a literature review usually covers the following steps:

  1. Define your Research question
  2. Plan your approach to your research and your review
  3. Search the Literature
  4. Analyze the material you’ve found
  5. Managing the results of your research
  6. Writing your Review

Defining Your Research Question

One of the hardest parts of a literature review is to develop a good research question.  You don't want a research question that is so broad it encompasses too many research areas, and can't be reasonably answered. 

Defining your topic may require an initial review of literature on your topic to get a sense of the scope about your topic.   Select a topic of interest, and do a preliminary search to see what kinds of research is being done and what is trending in that topic area.  This will give you a better sense of the topic, and help you focus your research question.

Writing a Literature Review

Developing a Research Question