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Literature Reviews in Social Work

Narrative and Systematic Literature Reviews

Narrative or Traditional Literature Reviews

  • Establish a research question
  • Summarize and synthesize material from a range of literature related to the question
  • Critically analyze the material, look for inconsistencies and gaps in the research, and draw conclusions
  • Establish if further research is needed on the subject

      Systematic Literature Reviews have the same elements as Narrative Reviews
      but
  are:

  • More rigorous in terms of analyzing and reporting the findings
  • More comprehensive in scope
  • More specific with regard to what is included in the review
  • Require clearly defined search strategies
  • Require transparency about data sources used

 

Because of the comprehensive, time-consuming, and rigorous nature of systematic reviews, social work students are much more likely to do narrative or traditional literature reviews for their course assignments. However, it is desirable for students to be as specific and transparent as possible in terms of search strategies, resources consulted, conclusions drawn, etc. even though the literature review may be less comprehensive than a systematic review.

Librarian

Meredith Kirkpatrick's picture
Meredith Kirkpatrick
Contact:
meredith@bu.edu
Mugar Library
771 Commonwealth Ave.
Boston, MA 02215
617-358-3956