This guide has been customized for S W 381R coursework. Check out the tabs on the left for your best bet resources and starting points.
Need more help? Email me to discuss your topic or set up a one-on-one appointment.
Think of scholarly papers like a conversation. A paper takes a look at what people are saying on a particular topic and then adds something new to the conversation based on their own research. A literature review is how scholars get caught up on the conversation so they will know what to say or ask next.
A literature review can be just a simple summary of the sources, but it usually has an organizational pattern and combines both summary and synthesis.
A summary is a recap of the important information of the source, but a synthesis is a re-organization, or a reshuffling, of that information. It might give a new interpretation of old material or combine new with old interpretations. Or it might trace the intellectual progression of the field, including major debates.
A research question is what forms and guides your literature review. It is the question that you want the literature to answer for you. A research question should be specific, focused, and concise.
To develop a research question, start with a general topic of interest to you. You'll want to do some preliminary and background research on this topic to think through what specific questions you might have.
Sample Topic: separation of immigrant children from their parents
Sample Research Question: What psychological impact does family separation have on immigrant children separated from parents at the border?
Sample Thesis: The current literature shows that family separation can result in PTSD and other adverse mental health effects among immigrant children separated from their parents at the border.
Need more guidance on developing your topic into a research question? Check out this video from the library at Northern Kentucky University.
The University Writing Center is available to help you with your writing assignments. The UWC can help with your writing at any stage, including: finding a topic for a paper, organizing ideas and clarifying thoughts, and drafting and revising papers. Make an appointment on their website for a consultation with a writing coach.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic License.