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SW 6150 - Cultural Competency in Social Work: Home

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Organizing Sources for a Literature Review

Use the following organizational tools to help you throughout the 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.


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.

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