If you are just starting out, you may want to use an Assignment Calculator.
This will help you plan your assignment completion based on your due date.
Pick a research topic
- Read your assignment instructions carefully
- Pick a topic that interests you and meets the criteria of the assignment
- Identify key concepts of your research topic
- Need extra help? Try Choosing an essay topic
- Do some background reading on your topic using Wikipedia or an encyclopedia.
- Using Wikipedia wisely (video)
Identify key concepts
Subject specific dictionaries and encyclopedias are useful for helping you figure out the jargon of a discipline and can give quick overviews of a topic to get you started. You can often pick up keywords to use in your search strategies from these sources:
- Encyclopedia of social work
- Canadian encyclopedia of social work
- A dictionary of social work and social care
Use this worksheet to write out your research topic and identify key ideas.
Developing a good search strategy is important
- what is your assignment?
- what is the main topic?
- what aspect of the topic is of interest to you?
- who has an interest in that topic?
- what other language might they be using to talk about that topic? do they spell it differently?
- when was it relevant? is it a new idea, or a long standing issue?
- what other factors play into your issue? climate, population, government, geography, etc.
BOOLEAN SEARCH TIPS:
- Use keywords only, DO NOT search using a full sentence.
- Combine keywords for different ideas with AND
- Search by keyword for specific topics: Bereavement AND women
- Or by country: Homelessness AND Canada
- Combine synonyms or similar words for an idea with OR. Use as many synonyms as you want but they must be in brackets and have OR between each term.
- (bereavement OR grief)
- Capitalize your AND and OR terms
- Use the * at the end of the root of a word to find all the forms of that word
- Use " " quotation marks to find a phrase such as "human rights"
Use Filters offered by the database
Some databases have a list of terms used to index articles in a consistent manner. These terms can be used to search for relevant material.
This list may be referred to as:
- Subject Headings
Use database filters to narrow down and focus the results you find. For example:
- Category or Topic
- Document Type
- Search within
- Discover new search terms
As you read through a list of search results, take note of any new terms that are relevant to your topic. Search using these new terms.
Start with an Omni search to search across most of the library's databases. Use the main keywords from your research topic. As you retrieve results, use the filters on the left of the screen to narrow or broaden your search.
However, Omni doesn't search everything that the library owns or subscribes to so you will still need to search other databases (see below) to find everything that you need.
Search Strategies for Database Searching
- See tips offered in tab above Start Your Research
- Use Filters offered by the database: especially Scholarly/Peer Reviewed so you see only the academic material.
More Social Work Databases
- Do not limit yourself to these databases alone. See also: Databases by Subject.
More tips for effective searching
If you find one relevant article for your research it can lead to other relevant papers by the following:
- using the databases, including OMNI, look to find all papers & books published by the author or co-authors
- explore the bibliography in the paper for sources
- using Web of Science or Scopus, look for articles that cite the article you found. Remember, some databases will also list citing articles but those lists are limited to the current database. The Web of Science and Scopus are more comprehensive, with coverage from multiple databases.
- Remember to see if a citing article has itself been cited.
Check out our eBooks page for lots of useful information.
Watch this very short video about eBook etiquette
If the Carleton library doesn't have it...
If you need assistance with this, contact the Library Services Desk:
613-520-2600 ext. 2734
- uOttawa (you can take out print material from the University of Ottawa Library with your Carleton student card)
See our Grey Literature Guide. It is an important source of information in social work.
- It adds a valuable global perspective
- It provides detailed overviews on specific populations
- It may be the only source of local information
- Open Government
- Government of Canada's publications catalogue This portal searches the following publications:
- HillNotes: concise overviews of current and emerging issues of immediate interest
- Background Papers: in-depth studies of policy issues with references
- In Briefs: short briefings on current issues with references to more substantive discussions on the same topic
- Legislative summaries: concise analyses of certain bills before Parliament
Federal government policies
- The government information webpage (government websites, all levels)
- Library of Parliament of Canada (publications on policy issues).
- The Canadian Government Policy Cycle subject guide. The section on Action explains the ways that the Canadian government can implement policy.
- Search the Canadian Research Index.
- CanLII This is a searchable site for Canadian policies/legislation. It has all federal, provincial, and municipal policies.
Data and Statistics
What is the Difference Between Data and Statistics?
Data are the raw materials out of which statistics are produced, usually available as digital files for manipulation in statistical software. Statistics are facts or figures that tend to be aggregate counts, totals, sums, or averages.
Online Statistical consulting is available through the library.
- Statistics Canada
- Community Information Database (based on census data; socio-economic and demographic data and information for all Canadian communities)
- Health In Canada
- Canada Mortgage and Housing Data and Research
- Ottawa Insights
- Finding Local Census Data - Video
Research Skills for Social Work
Understanding the Academic Articles you read
Reading and comprehending academic articles is not easy.
Writing in Social Work
The following titles can help you with your writing skills for your academic essays and papers.
The library also holds material on writing for the practice and profession of Social Work, including: case work report writing, communication, assessments, etc.:
Citing Your Sources in APA
The School of Social Work uses APA Style as their default style. If you're not sure what style to use, check with your professor or T.A.
- Purdue Online Writing Lab: APA Formatting & Style Guide. They give examples of all kinds of references, both how to cite within your text as well as how to format the bibliography. Also includes a sample paper
- APA Style see their Quick Answers section or search their site.
- Carleton's APA Style Help Guide
- School of Social Work podcast: VOICES FROM THE FIELD (Carleton University)
- The Social Work Podcast - The Social Work Podcast provides information on all things social work, including direct practice (both clinical and community organizing), research, policy, education... and everything in between.
- Helpful Social Work - This podcast’s goal is to help social workers to learn, think and act with integrity to help transform lives. Each month, the hosts discuss an important topic that matters to social workers.
- NSAW Social Work Talks Podcast - NASW Social Work Talks podcast informs, educates and inspires by exploring topics that social workers care about with experts and practitioners.
Psychotherapy.net a streaming service that provides a platform for training videos in the fields of Psychotherapy, Counseling and Social Work.
Sage Research Methods contains more than 125 hours of video, including tutorials, case study videos, expert interviews, etc. Students can find extra help and support to guide them through every step of their research project and succeed in their research methods course.
Kanopy a streaming service that provides a platform for educational video products covering a wide range of subjects, from arts, humanities, health, business, education.
The Counselling Channel (YouTube