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SOWK 5317: Social Work Research: Home

Social Work Research

Let's Be Social!

Research Steps

(1)  Determine the problem & define the question to answer
(2)  Find general background about your problem/question: Reference Material

(3)  Use the library catalog to find books

(4)  Use research database to find and follow the research regarding your problem/question.

(5)  Consider using websites/Internet searching to find government information and open access articles related to your topic.
(6)  Collect, read, evaluate and write what you have learned.
(7)  Cite the information you have found so that others will be able to follow your research trail.


  1. Levels of recidivism as determined by inmate's perception of self-concept, self-esteem, locus of control. 
  2. The effectiveness/impact of intervention strategies and inmate programming on levels of recidivism
  3. Which form of therapy is the most effective to use with veterans who have TBI concurrent with PTSD?
  4. Mental health intervention and child welfare. 

Research Components

Section 1. Problem and Conceptual Framework: Describe the nature and extent of the social problem that prompted the selection of your topic. What exactly do you want to study?  Why is it worth studying?  Discuss the importance of your study by citing facts or describing concrete examples of why it is needed.
Section 2. Objectives, Purpose and Research Question: Specify in precise terms the objectives of your proposed study.  What is it you intend to gain as a result of conducting the study?  How might the findings or results be used to alleviate the problem that prompted the study?  Keep in mind that social work research is distinguished from other social research based on its aim of informing practice and improving conditions for clients. 
Section 3. Literature Review
: Using your conceptual framework as a guide, conduct a literature search of evidence based interventions for the social problem you have selected.  Focus your search on empirical (research-based), peer reviewed articles from scholarly sources (journals) published within the last 7 years.  You should cast your net broadly to begin with and then select at least six (6) articles as the basis of the literature review. 
Section 4. Constructs, Variables and Measurement
:  Identify the independent and dependent variables for your study. Provide operational definitions for each (these should be informed by your conceptual framework, the literature review and the logic of your own thinking about the research).
Section 5. Study Participants/Sampling
: Who or what will you study to collect data?  First identify sources in general, theoretical terms (population), and then specify more concretely who is available for your study (study population) and how you will reach and select them to create a resulting sample. 
Section 6. Design and Data Collection Methods
: For purposes of this assignment, you should select a group design, from either the experimental or quasi-experimental classifications.  What specific design are you proposing? 
Section 7. Data Analysis Plan: Discuss the methods that would be used to summarize and draw conclusions about the data.  How would the data be organized?
Section 8. Conclusion and Implications for Social Work
: What do you expect your conclusions to contribute to the understanding of the social problem or topic selected?  How might your findings be used to make decisions about services to clients, social service programs, or social policy?  Would your results be generalizable to any group other than the group you studied? 

Social Work Librarian

Arlene Salazar's picture
Arlene Salazar