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Social Work

Research guide to sources in Social Work

Choosing a topic

1. Choose a topic that interests you (e.g. elder abuse)

2. Think of a specific question you want to answer (e.g. what are risk factors for elder abuse and neglect?)

3. Pick a topic that is manageable. If your topic is too broad, it will be hard to condense it all into one paper. If your topic is too narrow, you may have a hard time finding enough scholarly research for your paper.

4. What are the main concepts or keywords to describe your topic? Brainstorm and write a list. HINT: consider reading a short encyclopedia entry to generate ideas for keywords. Search Gale Virtual Reference Library to search across many reference resources at once. 

Refer to the helpful videos on the find articles page of this guide for a more in--depth description of these steps.

Check out this incredibly useful video from North Carolina State University on choosing a research topic:

Determine your research needs

What are the best sources of information for this topic? (Books, journal articles, statistics, newspapers, etc.)

Do you need facts and figures, a general review of a topic, or do you want a very specific treatment of a research area?

Books often give a better overview of a topic than a journal article.

Journal Articles are much shorter than books and tend to be more specific in nature.

Which do you need?

Need help? Ask us!

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Nikki Tummon
Humanities and Social Sciences Library RM-27A

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