About this Guide
This guide was created for SK536 students. It provides information about doing a literature review, finding sources that contribute to evidence-based practice, and critically evaluating sources of information.
Doing a Literature Review
A literature review is an up-to-date overview of the most important research about a specific topic. It only includes the most pertinent literature on the topic, so careful searching and selection are required.
- Doing a Literature Review (video: 5:40)
- Doing a Literature Review in Health and Social Care: A Practical Guide by Helen Aveyard (ebook)
- Chapter 4 "How Do I Search for Literature?" is particularly helpful
a) Peer-reviewed Articles
Peer-reviewed journal articles are the best sources of evidence-based information. Visit the Social Work Subject Guide for a list of databases to search for articles.
b) Scholarly Books
Search the Library catalogue using Advanced Search for scholarly books.
- Finding Books: Using the Primo Library Catalogue (video: 6:40)
- Finding eBooks (video: 3:42)
- How to Find Scholarly Books (video: 3:04)
c) Systematic Reviews
Systematic reviews identify and analyze all of the research that has been done on a specific topic. They expose gaps in research and can help practitioners make decisions by revealing what up-to-date evidence shows.
“A systematic review attempts to identify, appraise and synthesize all the empirical evidence that meets pre-specified eligibility criteria to answer a given research question. Researchers conducting systematic reviews use explicit methods aimed at minimizing bias, in order to produce more reliable findings that can be used to inform decision making.”
~ Cochrane Library, About Cochrane Reviews
To find systematic reviews on a specific topic, try searching these resources:
- Cochrane Library
- Campbell Library (the peer-reviewed online monograph series of systematic reviews prepared under the editorial control of the Campbell Collaboration)
- PubMed Systematic Review filter (select "Clinical Queries" under the heading "PubMed Tools")
d) Grey Literature
Grey literature is usually not peer-reviewed, and it is often unpublished. Examples of this type of source are:
- Conference papers
- Government reports
- Policy statements
- Association publications
There are many places to search for grey literature. Try, for example:
- "Statistics and Policy Papers" in the Social Work Subject Guide
- Relevant organization or association websites such as the Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies
- Google Advanced Search (you can combine search terms, limit results by region, or search by domain such as gc.ca)
Critically Evaluating Sources
You must critically evaluate grey literature sources.
- Check out Evaluating Information Sources (from the University of Waterloo)
Citing Sources in APA, 6th Ed.
You'll find the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association in the Kitchener Collection (BF76.7.P83 2010).
It's also important to know when to cite. Understanding Plagiarism (video: 4:48) is an essential academic skill.
Please don't hesitate to get in touch! You can email, phone or drop-in: firstname.lastname@example.org, 519-884-0710 ext. 4973. I'm in my office, FSW304, on Tuesdays and Thursdays.