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SSW380+ Research Methods: Research Strategies

Summer 2018, SSW Literature Review Strategies: Abukari, Drisko, Hull, Shklarski

Mind Mapping

Mind mapping is a method of writing down ideas and information that encourages you to group related ideas together around your research topic. It is very useful for organizing ideas.

Mind Mapping Videos and Information About Free Software

An example of a mind map relating to society, social problems & social justice

Get Background Information

Encyclopedia of Social Work (4 vols.)
Call Number: Ref HV35 .S6

Browse topics to find an overview & some academic references and use these sources to find background information about your topic and bibliographies to help you get started with your research.

Searching Databases - Tips

  1. Break down your topic into the main concepts of your paper.
  2. Using these concepts as headings, think of as many synonyms for those words as you can. For example: “welfare programs for poor urban populations,”  would be: welfare AND poor AND urban.
  3. Create lists of words- to broaden your search strategy: For welfare, in this case, you may also search social services, food stamps, WIC, etc.
  4. Start general- and then get more focused once you learn more about your topic.
  5. Use Boolean Operators (AND, OR, NOT) for more efficient searching
  6. Example: (welfare OR entitlement* AND reform* AND legislat* IR policy NOT loophole)
  7. Use TRUNCATION (*)  For disability, search with disab* to retrieve disability, disabilities, disabled . . . etc.
  8. Take clues from your search results.  Look at the article’s title, abstract, “keywords,” “subjects” or “subject headings” - sometimes called “Descriptors”.  If you find good words, write them down to keep track of the words that work to use in subsequent searches.  

Get help from Jodi Shaw

Jodi Shaw


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What Makes a "Great" Social Work Question?