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.
Writing for Social Work
Start with the Omni search box 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.
KEY Databases for Social Work:
Databases by SUBJECT you should also use:
- Both CPI-Q and Canadian Business and Current Affairs Database have Canadian content.
- JSTOR and Google Scholar are both excellent multidisciplinary databases.
- Children: Child Development & Adolescent Studies and Child Welfare Information Gateway
- Criminal Justice: Criminal Justice Abstracts
- Education: ERIC
- Gender and women's studies: Gender Studies database and Studies on Women and Gender Abstracts and Gender & Work Database
- Health (including women's health): Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health (CINAHL)
- History: America History and Life
- Human rights: HuriSearch
- Indigenous peoples: Bibliography of Indigenous Peoples in North America and America History and Life and Native Health Database
- Labour and Work: Gender & Work Database
- Mental Health: PsycINFO
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): PTSDpubs and PsycINFO
- Political Economy: EconLit
- Policy-related literature: PAIS Index and Business Source Complete
- Poverty: Sociological Abstracts and World Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology Abstracts
- Social change, social welfare, social care and social services: Sociological Abstracts and Sociology Database
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
Grey literature 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
Types of grey literature
- Government Information
- Dissertations and Theses
- Conference Proceedings (select Conference Proceedings Citation Index- Science, you may also want to select the Social Science and Humanities option)
- Newspapers and Magazines
- Think Tank publications
- OMNI (change Content Type to types of grey literature such as government documents, conference proceedings etc.)
- Google Scholar (change country, for example, to find international material)
- Databases such as Social Work Abstracts or the Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health (CINAHL Database) (check document types; may include theses, conference proceedings, etc.)
- Business Source Complete (select publication type "Grey literature")
- CURVE Theses and Dissertations Collection
- Dissertations and Theses Global
- Grey Literature Report
- Grey Matters (a checklist for health technology assessment from the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH))
- GreyNet International (an international directory of organizations in Grey Literature and a repository)
Web sources of grey literature
Social work organizations
- Canadian Association of Social Workers
- Canadian Association for Social Work Education (CASWE-ACFTS)
- Council on Social Work Education (United States)
- International Federation of Social Workers
- National Association of Social Workers (NASW) (United States)
- National Institute for Social Work (United Kingdom)
- Social Work Policy Institute (United States)
Social research groups
- Ontario Public Interest Group (OPIRG) Toronto
- Caledon Institute of Social Policy A private, non-profit social policy think tank that conducts social policy research and analysis.
- The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives
- Canadian Council on Social Development
- Canadian Index of Wellbeing Provides analyses of changes in Canadians' lives in areas such as health, standard of living, quality of the environment, time use, education and skills, community vitality, and civic engagement.
- The Centre for the Study of Living Standards (CSLS) (Canada)
- The Council of Canadians
- Social Research and Demonstration Corporation Canada (a non-profit research organization, that develops, does field tests and evaluates social programs)
- Think Tanks (University of Alberta Library)
- Vanier Institute of the Family
Social Work Gateways
- Charity Village Canada's supersite for the nonprofit sector
- Social Work Access Network (SWAN) (University of South Carolina)
- Social Work Internet Guide (University of Sydney Library)
More social work grey literature can be found under Special Topics
- 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)
- Canadian Heritage. Click on "Funding" in the left-hand corner of the page, then "Topics". From this list pick "Cultural diversity and rights", then "Human Rights" and then "Canada's Reports to the UN" in the middle section of the page. These reports detail government policies and activities (federal and provincial) related to important international treaties such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
- Employment and Social Development Canada. Click on publications and resources under "About us" at the bottom of the page (audit and evaluation reports as well as the Treasury Board main estimates).
- Office of the Auditor General of Canada (evaluations of federal government policies and programs).
- 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.
- Estimates are the detailed breakdown of proposed spending by ministry and government agencies that must be debated and approved by the government (federal or provincial). These detailed reports can contain information about revenues and expenditures and the actual monies received and spent in previous years.
- Public Accounts are a detailed breakdown of what the government actually spent. These may be of use if estimates are not provided.
City of Ottawa
- City of Ottawa
- Locate Ottawa (use this interactive map based on census data)
- City of Ottawa Statistics and Demographics
- Federation of Canadian Municipalities
- Ottawa Neighbourhood Study
More specific social work government documents can be found under Special Topics.
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
Provincial - Most provinces have statistical offices and are easily found through Google.
Jump to: Abuse and Violence | Ageing | Bereavement | Children and youth | Disabilities | Family | Feminism | Health | Homelessness | Human Rights | Immigration and resettlement | Labour | LGBTQ2+ | Mental Health | Poverty | Restorative Justice | Substance Abuse | Suicide Prevention | Wellbeing | Citing your Sources in APA
- Aboriginal and Indigenous Social Work
- Aboriginal and Treaty Rights Information System (ATRIS)
- Aboriginal Coalition to End Homelessness
- Assembly of First Nations
- Aboriginal Healing Foundation
- Aboriginal Links: Canada and US (Resources for all subjects dealing with Aboriginal culture and rights)
- Centre for Indigenous Support and Community Engagement (Carleton University)
- Indigenous Services Canada
- National Indian Child Welfare Association (NICWA)
- Turning Point (Native Peoples and Newcomers Online)
- Turtle Island Native Network Highly recommended
- Wigwamen Non-Profit Residential Corporation
- About Family Violence (Department of Justice, Canada)
- Canadian Centre for Abuse Awareness
- Domestic Shelters (Canada)
- Family Violence Laws (Canada)
- Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime
- La Marsh Centre for Research on Violence and Conflict Resolution (York University)
- Child Welfare Information Gateway (United States)
- Stop Family Violence (Canada)
- Violence and Abuse Canada
- American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)
- Assisted Living Research Institute
- Canadian Association for Retired Persons (CARP)
- Canadian Association on Gerontology
- The Council on Aging of Ottawa
- Global Coalition on Aging
- Long Term Care Planning Network A Canadian national resource centre for aging and long term care planning and education.
- National Institute on Ageing (Ryerson University)
- refdesk.com: Seniors Online
- Bereaved Families of Ontario
- Bereaved Families of Ontario - Ottawa Region
- Bereaved Families of Ontario - Toronto
- Bereavement Ontario Network
- CAMH Loss, Grief and Healing
- Compassionate Friends of Canada
- Cruse Bereavement Care (United Kingdom)
- Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health
- Child and Youth Advocacy Centre
- Child Welfare League of Canada
- Child Welfare Social Work
- Children's Aid Society of Ottawa
- Covenant House
- Missing Children: Free People Search
- Ontario Association of Children's Aid Societies
- Teen Health and Wellness
- Teen Mental Health (US)
- A Way Home Canada
- Youth Haven
- Youth Homelessness Overview (US)
- Youth Without Shelter
- ARCH Disability Law Centre (Advocacy Resource Centre for the Handicapped)
- Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA)
- Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work
- Canadian Disability Resources Society
- CHADD: Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder
- CERA:Centre for Equality Rights in Accomodation
- Council of Canadians with Disabilities
- DAWN Canada: DisAbled Women's Network Canada
- LDOnLine: Learning Disabilities Information & Resources (United States)
- NEADS (National Educational Association of Disabled Students)
- Community Living Ontario
- National Institute of Disability Management and Research
- Adoption Council of Canada
- Families Canada
- Family Law Centre provides comprehensive information on Canada's Divorce and Family Law
- Family Service Canada
- Vanier Institute of the Family
- Canadian Research Institute for the Advancement of Women
- National Council of Women of Canada
- National Organization for Women (US)
- Status of Women Canada
- UN Women
- Women of Color Websites
- Canada Health Infoway
- Canadian Foundation for Healthcare Improvement
- Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network
- Canadian Medical Association
- Canadian Public Health Association
- Centre for Critical Qualitative Health Research
- Mayo Clinic
- Ontario Public Health Association
- Ottawa Public Health
- Public Health Ontario
- Alliance to End Homelessness Ottawa
- Canada's Homelessness Strategy
- Crisis (UK)
- Homeless (Statistics Canada)
- Homeless Hub
- Homelessness & Housing (Canadian Social Research Links)
- Homelessness partnering strategy : 2005-2014 highlights of the national shelter study
- Homelessness Services Association of BC
- Housing and Homelessness Research and Reports (Toronto)
- National Alliance to End Homelessness (US)
- Ottawa Innercity Ministries
- PovNet (British Columbia)
- Raising the Roof Solutions for Canada's Homeless
- United States Interagency Council on Homelessness
- Amnesty International Canada
- Canadian Human Rights Commission
- Human Rights Organizations and Resources
- Human Rights Watch
- Office of the High Commisioner for Human Rights (United Nations)
- Ontario Human Rights Commission
- Canadian Council for Refugees
- Canadian Race Relations Foundation
- Catholic Centre for Immigrants
- Champlain Health Line - Immigrant, Newcomer and Refugee Services, Ottawa
- Immigrating to Ottawa
- Immigration and Citizenship Canada
- The Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council
- Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
- Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization (OCISO)
- Canadian Labour Congress
- Canadian Union Of Public Employees
- Community Social Planning Council of Toronto
- International Council on Social Welfare
- Interational Labour Organization
- Labour Force Survey
- The Ontario Federation of Labour
- PSAC: Public Service Alliance of Canada
- ArQuives: Canada's LGBTQ2+ Archives
- Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity
- EGALE Canada / Equality For Gays & Lesbians Everywhere
- NGLTF National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
- OutRight Action International
- Rainbow Health Ontario
- Stonewall National Museum and Archives
- Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health
- Canadian Mental Health Association
- Canadian Psychiatric Association
- Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
- Mental Health Commission of Canada
- Canada Without Poverty
- Canadian Council on Social Development
- Causes of Poverty (Fraser Institute)
- End Child Poverty (U.K.)
- Federal Poverty Reduction Plan
- Global Hunger Index
- Global Multidimensional Poverty Index
- Income by postal code: Mapping Canada’s richest and poorest neighbourhoods
- Oxfam Canada
- Poverty (U.S. Census Bureau)
- Poverty (World Bank)
- Poverty and Social Exclusion (EU)
- Poverty Data (World Bank)
- Poverty, Inequality and Growth (Center for Global Development)
- Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (International Monetary Fund)
- PovNet (British Columbia)
- US Poverty mapped
- Restorative Justice (Department of Justice)
- Restorative Justice Exchange
- Restorative justice links (Correctional Service Canada)
- Addiction Centre
- Addiction Group (US)
- Alcohol Rehab Help
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US)
- Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
- Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction
- Canadian Drug Policy Coalition
- The Center for Education and Drug Abuse Research
- Drug and Organized Crime Awareness Service (RCMP)
- Drug Rehab Services in Canada
- European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction
- Health Canada
- International Narcotics Control Board
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (US)
- National Institute on Drug Abuse (US)
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US)
- Substance Use Canada
- World Health Organization
- Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention
- Centre for Suicide Prevention
- Crisis Services Canada
- National Suicide Prevention Alliance (UK)
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (US)
- Suicide Prevention Ottawa
Research Skills for Social Work
- The Practice of Research in Social Work
- The Handbook of Social Work Research Methods
- Routledge Handbook of Social Work Practice Research
- The Sage Handbook of Social Work Research
Writing in Social Work
The following titles can help you with your writing skills for your academic essays and papers.
- Columbia Guide to Social Work Writing
- Effective Writing for Social Work: Making a Difference
- Writing for Social Work
- Writing with Style: APA Style for Social Work
The library also holds material on writing for the practice and profession of Social Work, including: case work report writing, communication, assessments, etc.:
- Boring records?: Communication, Speech and Writing is Social Work
- Professional Writing for Social Work Practice
- Writing Analytical Assessments in Social Work
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.
|The 7th edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (2020) is now available. There are some significant changes from APA 6th edition. Ask your professor which version they'd like you to use this semester.|
- 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.
- You can also just Google: "how do I cite xxxx in apa", which often turns up the official apa.org answer and other reputable (look for .edu or other university web sites). Example: "how do I cite a video in APA
You can order journal articles and print material directly from OMNI now. This service is free and has a very quick turnaround.
Journal articles will be emailed to you and can be available within a few hours.
Print material will be available at the Library Services Desk and you will be notified by email. You can even have your material sent to another university for pick up. For example, if you live downtown, you may want to have your material sent to the University of Ottawa Library.
If you need assistance with this, contact the Library Services Desk:
- 613-520-2600 ext. 2734