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SWK 736 Contemporary Social Work: An Integrative Approach: Mini Paper #1

This guide is to be used in conjunction with the Capstone research papers required in this course. The main page for each tab highlights research and search tips that direct student to appropriate resources and how to use them.

Defining Your Topic

Defining Your Topic

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Literature Reviews

Mini Paper #1

Social problem statement, etiology, & significance

See Syllabus for due date, 6-8 pages

1. State the social problem you have selected for study and why it personally interests you.

Research Tips:  To select a social problem topic: Click on Books tab to locate several sources that policy analysts have identified as issues or social problems relevant to the social work profession. Social work speaks : National Association of Social Workers policy statements, 2012- 2014 is particularly good for this

  • Do some Background reading on the topic: Click on the Books  tab.  Special Encyclopedias are a good alternative to Wikipedia. They all provide background information such as the history and the development of the issue as a social problem, analysis of the issue and possible legislative action relevant to your topic.
  • In addition to the books listed here are some other excellent e-reference sources. Oxford Bibliographies Online Gale Virtual Reference Library and Sage Knowledge are particularly good.   These sources provide language specific to the discipline and may provide possible key terms for better searching.
  • Look for additional sources in reference lists: Finally use the reference lists provided at the end of an reference article or chapter to help you locate other useful material relevant to your research.

2. Review empirical evidence on the causes of the problem and its economic cost to society (cite references).

Research Tips: Locate scholarly research articles: Click on the Article Databases tab to take you to links for general databases such as Academic Search Premier, AcademicOnefile, ProQuest Social Science Journals, and SocIndex to search for empirical research articles on your topic.

  • Locate statistical data on your topic from reference sources for incidence and prevalence listed on the books tab.
  • Check the Internet websites of relevant governmental agencies that might have statistics


  • Try using your keyword terms as one concept and add the terms  ('economy' or 'cost'), or (incidence or prevalence) as another concept in your search e.g.,

          homeless* AND veterans AND (economy or cost or financ*)

          homeless* AND veterans AND (prevalence or incidence)      

3.  Cite references to explain the causes of the social problem from:

  • a macro theory perspective
  • a micro theory perspective
  • a social justice perspective

Research Tips:  Click on the Article Databases tab and use the Subject Specific Databases box for more articles if needed. Social Work  Databases such as Social Work Abstracts, Sociological abstracts, SocIndex, Families and Society, Ageline, PAIS International, etc., may be useful. 

  • If your subject is health related, choose the subject Health and Medicine from the medical databases. If it is related to Education, select the Education Subject Databases. Look to see if the article discusses families or individuals, groups or communities or a policy change since this will determine what perspective the article is discussing.

Things to keep in mind

As you think about mini-assignments 1, 2, and 3, you should also be thinking about mini-assignment 4, which asks you to propose a program evaluation for a clinical program that addresses your social problem.  What type of program do you think would be most useful and effective for addressing your problem?  That is, what would be the particular population(s) it would serve (e.g., men, women, young adults, older medical patients, etc.)?  What would be the program components and interventions, and what would be the mix of micro and macro-practice interventions?  Some program ideas may be more cost-effective and might be more fund-able over time than others.  As you think about different types of program ideas, this will help you over time to target your social issue topic to a more targeted clinical program to address certain facets of this social issue.

Not sure?   Ask me question through the on line  discussion forum  for Library research set up in Moodle or call me for an appointment. If time is of the essence Call the reference Desk at (516) 877 3574. 


Coordinator of Instructional Services/Reference Librarian

Prof. Jason Byrd's picture
Prof. Jason Byrd
208 Swirbul Library

How to Write an Outline for a Research Paper

Creating an Outline

This tutorial will help you with the organization of your outline and give you tips on formatting an outline using Microsoft Word.

Click the image to view the video.