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Social Work and Sociology: SOWK 4040

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Tips for Writing a Good Literature Review

Tips for Writing a Good Literature Review

Social Work Research


  • "The purpose of this proposal is to conduct research to answer the question"…(insert your research question here)
  • Discuss why this topic is important for social workers to know about (answer the so what? question). This topic is important because…
  • Give general statistics about the scope of the problem. How many people does this issue affect?  For example,  In the US each year over 1 million people are hospitalized for bipolar disorder (or something to that effect).

Review of Literature

  • Intro and lit review are written in the form of a unified essay and not just as a litany of annotations from the annotated bibliography.
  • Good literature reviews reveal the work that has been done previously on the topic of the research question.
  • Good literature reviews discuss opposing views as found in the research.
  • Good literature reviews discuss the theory being tested.
  • Emphasize the finding of previous research that has been completed on the topic.
  • Critique the previous research if you see a flaw.
  • Point out trends and themes in the literature that you found.
  • Point out gaps in the literature.
  • Point out how your study question differs from previous research.
  • If there is no literature on your topic, point out literature that is peripheral to your topic.
  • Use quotations sparingly or not at all. Paraphrase but do not plagiarize. CITE EVERYTHING.
  • Use the APA Style Manual to guide your writing and citations.