This section of the resource focuses on conducting a review of the literature. It will help you to think about what to look for, where to find it and how to assess its quality in relation to the aim of your search, since different types of research are more appropriate for different kinds of questions. The section guides you through:
- Finding a focus for searching
- Searching for material
- Sources for evidence and information
- Assessing research quality
In order to be able to work in a research-minded way it is important that you know how to find research. There are a range of reasons that you might be searching for research on an area of interest or practice. If you are a student on a qualifying course, you may be:
- preparing for some coursework
- examining the focus of a placement setting
- carrying out a research project
- preparing to write a literature review
- looking into an area of interest
- preparing for a job interview.
If you are a practitioner, you may be:
- updating your knowledge for work generally
- examining the evidence base for a specific work-related issue
- exploring an area of practice you are interested in
- doing some research related to further study
- preparing to write a literature review, or other literature-focused piece of work.
Dodd and Epstein (2012: 64) distinguish between conducting a literature review, and writing a literature review. For all the reasons given above, you could conduct a review of the literature, but in only two would you produce a formal, written literature review.
What reasons do you have for seeking out research? Write them down in a list, and next to them write the context or focus of your search. For instance:
Looking into an area of interest
Examining the evidence base for a work
Context or focus
Domestic violence in same-sex relationships
What helps to improve communication with adults with autism and challenging behaviour?
I want to write something about young black men being diagnosed with schizophrenia, and community mental health teams
There is an online 'Virtual Training Suite' to help with using the internet in your research, aimed at social work students and available at the Internet for Social Work website.