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SW 6150 - Cultural Competency in Social Work: Home

Encyclopedias

Encyclopedias can be a great start for an overview of your topic. I recommend starting your work with the Encyclopedia of Social Work. Use the search box in the left column that says "Search within work." If you are writing your paper on a specific group, try searching on that group specifically (e.g., Asian Americans, senior citizens, etc). The encyclopedia will display entries it thinks closely match your group. Review those overviews for an introduction to the cultural group, implications for social work practice, and other sources.

Also consider searching within encyclopedias for issues that you're considering for your cultural group (e.g., housing, family, education). 

Articles: Databases

Search these databases for scholarly articles and professional publications. I recommend making your search more specific and precise than when you searched encyclopedias. Consider what the main ideas of your question are. For example, if you're writing a paper on Arab Americans, you might have read in the Encyclopedia of Social Work that family is a strong part of Arab American life and has a role in how individuals view their identity. You might do a search on (family and identity and Arab American) in QuickSearch to find articles that talk about all three of those ideas. 

Don't try to find everything in one article. For example, if you also read that there are many stereotypes about Arab Americans, particularly when it comes to gender roles, you would want to do a separate search on that, rather than including it in the search for family. You could, for example, do a search on (stereotype and gender and Arab American). I would not, though, do a search on (family and identity and stereotype and gender and Arab American) because it's asking for too many things at one time. 

For more information on searching databases, check out our online workshop, Stop Searching and Start Finding.

Government Sources

Tests, Measures, and Data Sets

Organizing Sources for a Literature Review

"Organization is essential as you work from start to finish of your [research] project. Good organization will allow you to see where you have been and help you to see how to proceed.

  • Staying organized throughout your research will help you to avoid repeating ineffective searches.
  • When it comes to writing your literature review, staying organized will provide you a concise overview of the research you have located, and help you group thoughts and ideas.
  • As you write your literature review section you may* need to explain to your readers how you conducted your research.
    • This explanation does not need to be lengthy but you will need to share with your readers the databases and keywords that you used to find your research articles. This information can help future researchers pick up where your research left off."

- Walden University Library, Library Guide to Capstone Literature Reviews: Get & Stay Organized

*Make sure to review your assignment requirements


Use the following organizational tools to help you throughout the literature search process. When you read articles, it's helpful to think about them in the context of your research question, theory, and hypothesis. These documents allow you to compile details about your sources, such as citation information, purpose, methodologies, implications, and critiques. The documents can also help with identifying similarities and themes between articles and authors.

Questions? Ask your librarian!

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