Welcome to the Masters of Social Work Guide!
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Find Print Books in the Library Catalog
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Articles & Databases
Journal Titles Search
What is EBP?
Searching OCLS Databases
Searching for Tests
Books with Tests
How to Conduct a Literature Review
How to Write a Literature Review
Field & Career Information
Interviewing for Field Placement
Resources for Instructors & Supervisors
APA Style & Grammar Help
OCLS & Research Help
Introduction to OCLS
Find Print Books:
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You may ask, "Why would I use an encyclopedia or reference book for my research?".
Reference books, such as encyclopedias, handbooks, and dictionaries, provide foundational information, key terms and definitions, and important concepts in the field of social work, as well as bibliographies created by experts in the field.
Surveying available reference books is a great starting point for any research project and an important step in a literature review. Examining the key articles (often found in bibliographies) in your topic area is important to understanding the history of publications on a subject.
Each database below indexes unique journals related to social work and provides either abstracts or full text articles. If the full text option is missing, look for Check Online Availability or Check Full Text Finder for Full Text to see whether it is available in another database or in print at the library.
For a complete list of social work databases that are available through OCLS, visit OCLS Social Work databases.
Are you looking for a specific article? If you know the journal or magazine the article is in, you can use the Journal Titles Search to see if OCLS has access to the journal or magazine.
The Journal Titles Search can be found on the OCLS homepage under Key Links.
Type your search in the box below! The Journal Titles Search will pop up in a new window.
Are you looking for current news in the area of social work?
This tutorial will walk you through how to find current news articles.
Environment + organizational context. EBP. "Evidence-based Social Work Practice." 2012.
Evidence-based practice (EBP) is a process in which the practitioner combines well-researched interventions with clinical experience and ethics, and client preferences and culture to guide and inform the delivery of treatments and services. The practitioner, researcher and client must work together in order to identify what works, for whom and under what conditions. This approach ensures that the treatments and services, when used as intended, will have the most effective outcomes as demonstrated by the research. (Social Work Policy Institute)
Typically used in evidence-based medicine, the PICO model is a useful way of formulating client, community, or policy-related research questions. A well-built question or problem should include the four components of the model: Problem, Intervention, Comparison and Outcome.
See below for a client-problem research question example:
Describe the client/patient. Important descriptors might include: age and gender. Then describe the problem the patient is experiencing. For example, you might say, "A four-year-old boy with PTSD"
Describe the intervention or treatment you are considering for the client/patient. For example, "EMDR psychotherapy" for the child.
Ask yourself if there is a main alternative intervention that exists for the problem that you wish to use as a base of comparison. Example: "cognitive-behavioral therapy." (Note: you may not always wish to compare interventions, so sometimes this part of your research question will be omitted.)
Ask yourself what result you want to see because of the therapy. Example: "decreased PTSD symptoms, such as nightmares"
You can search any database for articles with content related to evidence-based practice.
Enter your search terms in separate search boxes and enter evidence-based in one of the search boxes.
Below you will find some online resources with evidence-based practice.
NGC is a public resource for evidence-based clinical practice guidelines.
The CEBC provides child welfare professionals with easy access to vital information about selected child welfare related programs. Each program is reviewed and rated utilizing the CEBC Scientific Rating scale to determine the level of evidence for the program. The programs are also rated on a Relevance to Child Welfare Rating Scale.
The Campbell Library of Systematic Reviews provides access to systematic reviews in the areas of education, criminal justice, and social welfare. The library is a peer-reviewed source of reliable evidence of the effects of interventions.
The Guide to Community Preventive Services (Community Guide) filters scientific literature on specific health problems. The Task Force on Community Preventive Services makes recommendations for the use of various interventions based on the evidence gathered in the rigorous and systematic scientific reviews of published studies.
This website offers research-tested intervention programs and products, review summaries and usefulness/integrity scores for each program, materials to adapt for use in your own program.
The SAMHSA Evidence-Based Practices Resource Center aims to provide communities, clinicians, policy makers, and others in the field with the information and tools they need to incorporate evidence-based practices into their communities or clinical settings. The Resource Center contains a collection of science-based resources and is part of SAMHSA’s new comprehensive approach to identify and disseminate clinically sound and scientifically based policy, practices, and programs.
The National Institute of Drug Abuse presents examples of research-based programs featuring a variety of strategies proven to be effective. Each program was developed as part of a research study, which demonstrated that over time youth who participated in the programs had better outcomes than those who did not.
Social Programs That Work, sponsored by the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy, provides findings from randomized controlled trials that, in their view, have important policy implications due to the effectiveness of social interventions studied.
The Suicide Prevention Resource Center Resources and Programs is an easy to search page for suicide prevention resources (articles, tools, fact sheets, reports, etc) and programs and practices (education, screening, treatment, environmental change, etc.).
Published tests are standardized tests available for purchase. Often, these tests must be purchased in quantity, and the producer may not want the test available to the general public or for copying. If you need more information about a published test, try a search in Mental Measurements Yearbook with Tests.
Unpublished tests are generally not for sale but instead are often available in full-text in an article, thesis, dissertation, or book.
Getting Permission to Use a Test
To administer a test you have found:
A literature review is a critical summary and evaluation of existing theory and research on your topic. You will apply class discussion and readings to a specific research question and examine scholarly literature on the topic. Your review provides an overview of the sources you have studied and demonstrates how your research fits within the field.
Steps in the Literature Review Process
1. Identify a specific and well-defined research question.
Your literature review should outline the background and history of your research question, assessing the strengths and weaknesses of previous studies, and provide a framework and rationale for your individual study. Tell the story of your problem, how it has evolved, how it has been studied, and what is currently known about it.
2. Gather background information on your research question.
Search reference books in the field for your topic and identify the key concepts and questions surrounding your research question. In these reference works, you will likely find mention of seminal articles, studies, and authors in the history of your topic that you can incorporate into your review, and often there will be accompanying bibliographies.
Remember, internet searching can help generate ideas, but you will rarely find the scholarly [peer reviewed] research articles primarily required for a literature review.
3. Search library databases for articles and research related to your question.
Search several databases in your field (see the Articles & Databases tab of this guide) for literature on your topic. You will often find different results in each.
It may be a good idea to search the terms, "bibliography" or "literature review" along with your topic to generate articles that summarize related research. These may then serve as models for your own review. It may also be helpful to search using the terms, "research" or "study" in conjunction with your topic.
Searching using the subject terms used in a database for your topic often returns the most relevant results. Use the subject terms found in the database you are searching whenever possible.
Make sure to use separate search boxes in a database for each term you are searching for. Connect each box with AND or OR. Do not combine your terms all in one box.
4. Analyze and interpret the literature selected for your review.
Literature reviews may be organized chronologically, methodologically, or by theme. Consult with your instructor to determine the general structure required for your review. Then summarize and critically examine each source, relating it to your research question, particularly noting any gaps or questions generated by the research. Be selective with what you include in your summary, including only what is most relevant to your research question.
Be careful to paraphrase in your analysis and use quotes sparingly. The purpose of your review is for you to interpret the literature and related it to your research question, not to strictly summarize or document what other authors have already written. Keep your own voice by making sure to open and close paragraphs with your own ideas.
5. Mistakes to avoid
How to Write a Literature Review
Below you will find some online resources about fieldwork and professional preparation.
NASW works to enhance the professional growth and development of its members, to create and maintain professional standards, and to advance sound social policies.
Offers many links and resources for those entering the field of school social work
Offers resources specific to clinical practice, such as HIPAA, Medicare, and ethical guidelines, as well as job boards and online webinars.
Laurie Hitchcock, an assistant professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, explores ways to enhance lifelong learning for professional practice, including online networking.
Evidence-based indicators and data on child well-being across the United States. The Kids Count Data Center is a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Licensing Board or College Websites, Statues, and Administrative Rules
A searchable database of available websites related to licensing. Provided by the Association of Social Work Boards.
Questions an Agency May Ask:
Academic Writer is the official APA writing platform. You can concentrate on writing the content of your paper and Academic Writer automatically formats your papers in APA Style format.
Visit the Academic Writer Guide for on-demand tutorials to help you sign up and get started!
Most IWU N&G programs require you to use APA Style 7th Edition.
Visit the APA Style Guide for the APA 7th Edition Paper Template and the OCLS APA 7e Guide!
Grammarly with Premium features is available to IWU students for free. There are specific steps to sign up or you will be charged a fee.
Visit the Grammarly Guide to learn how to sign up and how to use Grammarly to check your papers for grammar and spelling errors.
To learn more about how to research and get research help from OCLS, visit the Introduction to Research Guide.