During COVID-19 I am available by email as well as for virtual meetings. Please don't hesitate to get in touch if you need assistance, or have any questions. Margaret.
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
- 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:
- Oxford research encyclopedias. 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.
Once you've decided which terms are the most useful for your search, combine them in a boolean search.
For example: "social work" AND (child* OR youth OR teenage*)
- the brackets keep synonyms together
- the * will look for alternate endings
- AND/OR will modify a component to narrow or expand your results (the capitalization of AND/OR varies from database to database, it is better to get in the habit of capitalizing them)
- if you had a multi-word phrase, putting quotes around it will search specifically for those words, in that sequence, side by side such as "Human Rights"
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
Explore your topic
Introducing the library's search engine (OMNI) - which makes it possible to search across many of the library's collections simultaneously. Including books, ebooks, journal titles, games, music, videos, government information, maps, and more.
Filter by Resource Type to find journal articles, books, ebooks, videos, games etc.
However, it 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.
When to use the library's search engine:
- When starting research on a topic
- If you are not sure which databases to use
Search Strategies for Database Searching
- See tips offered in tab above Start Your Research
Databases you should use:
Use the Social Work Quick Guide for a list of the top five (5) databases.
- Both CPI-Q and Canadian Business and Current Affairs Database have Canadian content.
- PAIS Index has public policy-related articles.
- JSTOR and Google Scholar are both excellent multidisciplinary databases.
- Special topics
- Criminal Justice: Criminal Justice Abstracts
- Education: ERIC
- Gender and women's studies: Gender Studies 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 Native North Americans or America History and Life
- Mental Health: PsycINFO
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): PILOTS
- Political Economy: EconLit
- Policy-related literature: PAIS Index and Business Source Complete
- Poverty: Sociological Abstracts and World Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology Abstracts
- Children: Child Development & Adolescent Studies
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.
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
Grey literature is defined as "information produced on all levels of government, academics, business and industry in electronic and print formats not controlled by commercial publishing" ie. where publishing is not the primary activity of the producing body." ICGL Luxembourg definition, 1997. Expanded in New York, 2004
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")
- Dissertations and Theses Global
- Grey Matters (a checklist for health technology assessment from the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health (CADTH))
- Grey Net (an international directory of organizations in Grey Literature and a respository)
Web sources of grey literature
Academic research centres and educational websites
- Academic Room
- Centre for Studies on Poverty and Social Citizenship (Carleton University, School of Social Work)
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
- National Council of Welfare
- 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
- PRAXIS (Resources for Social and Economic Development)
- 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
- Community Information Centre of Ottawa
- Community Information Centre of Ottawa e-Blue Book (online directory)
- 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 | Aging | Bereavement | Children and youth | Disabilities | Family | Feminism | Health | Homelessness | Human Rights | Immigration and resettlement | Labour | Mental Health | Poverty | Restorative Justice | Sexual Orientation | Substance Abuse | Suicide Prevention | Wellbeing
- 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)
- 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
- 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)
- American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)
- Canadian Association for Retired Persons (CARP)
- Canadian Association on Gerontology
- The Council on Aging of Ottawa
- Long Term Care Planning Network A Canadian national resource centre for aging and long term care planning and education.
- refdesk.com: Seniors Online
- Bereaved Families of Ontario
- Bereaved Families of Ontario - Ottawa Region
- Bereaved Families of Ontario - Toronto
- Bereavement Ontario Network
- Cruse Bereavement Care (United Kingdom)
- Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health
- Child Advocacy Project
- Child Welfare League of Canada
- Children's Aid Society of Ottawa
- Covenant House
- 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 Public Health Association
- Centre for Critical Qualitative Health Research
- Mayo Clinic
- 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
- The Workfare Watch Project
- Amnesty International Canada
- Carleton University: Educational Equity Policy (Equity Services)
- Canadian Human Rights Commission
- Human Rights Organizations and Resources
- Office of the High Commisioner for Human Rights (United Nations)
- Canadian Council for Refugees
- Catholic Centre for Immigrants
- Ceris: The Ontario Metropolis Centre
- Immigration and Citizenship Canada
- The Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council
- Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
- Canadian Labour Congress
- Canadian Union Of Public Employees
- Community Social Planning Council of Toronto
- International Council on Social Welfare
- Interational Labour Organization
- The Ontario Federation of Labour
- PSAC: Public Service Alliance of Canada
- 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
- 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)
- The Poverty Prism: Multiple Views of Poverty (Library of Parliament)
- Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (International Monetary Fund)
- PovNet (British Columbia)
- US Poverty mapped
- Centre for Justice and Reconciliation
- Restorative Justice (Department of Justice)
- Restorative justice links (Correctional Service 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
- Rainbow Health Ontario
- Stonewall National Museum and Archives
- Addiction Centre
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US)
- Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
- Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction
- The Center for Education and Drug Abuse Research
- Drug and Organized Crime Awareness Service (RCMP)
- Drug Enforcement Administration (US)
- 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)
- Office of National Drug Control Policy (US)
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (US)
- United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
- 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