Writing a literature review can be a daunting task for students. Many schools and universities provide writing resources, but it can be time consuming and overwhelming to locate and consume the materials available online. This short guidebook provides information about selecting a research topic and research questions, searching for literature, reading and understanding scholarly writing, and writing a literature review to synthesize what is known and what remains to be learned about a social problem. For students who appreciate the availability of resources on the internet, it also provides links to additional materials. It is our hope that this guide will be an invaluable resource for students completing an assignment, working as research assistants, or conducting their own research. It can be used with its companion textbook, Foundations of Social Work Research by Rebecca L. Mauldin and Matthew DeCarlo, or as a stand alone guide.
In the summer of 2019, Dr. Rebecca L. Mauldin coordinated a project to adopt an open textbook for the School of Social Work’s Research Methods courses across the BSW and MSW programs. In that project, she used Scientific Inquiry in Social Work by Matthew DeCarlo as a source text. That book included much of the material in this guidebook. This guide was developed from it to provide a comprehensive, yet focused and accessible introduction to conducting literature reviews for social work research. It is intended to be used by a wide range of students from undergraduate and graduates to help understand the rationale, approach, and methods for conducting literature reviews. We anticipate it being used as a textbook in Research Methods courses, but also as an independent guide for students writing research proposals or theses or for first year doctoral students with limited experience writing literature reviews.
About the Author
Rebecca L. Mauldin is an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Arlington’s School of Social Work. Dr. Mauldin’s research interests include social networks, social support, gerontology, and generosity. Her research focuses on the role of social relationships in the health and well-being of older adults. She examines the resources and benefits associated with relationships among residents of long-term care facilities, older immigrants, and older adults aging in place. Collaborative in nature, Dr. Mauldin enjoys community practice, program development, and coalition building. She thrives in teaching environments and brings forth others’ strengths in her practice, scholarship, and teaching.