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SW 6218/6265 - Social Work Research - Lee

Developing a Research Strategy slides

General Databases (Interdisciplinary)

Focused Databases

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Is it empirical?

Empirical = based on observable evidence. An article is likely empirical IF:

  • It appears in a scholarly/peer-reviewed journal
  • The researchers gathered data
    • Look in: Abstract, Method(ology) section
    • Can be quantitative (most surveys) and/or qualitative (interviews, focus groups)
  • Authors report on an experiment/observation
  • It has these normal sections (may vary):
    • Introduction/Literature Review
    • Methodology
    • Results
    • Discussion/Conclusion
    • References

  • NOT empirical:
    • Literature review, even if in scholarly journal (authors only use published sources)
      • Use these to point you to other sources & get topic background!
    • Theoretical article, even if in scholarly journal
    • Essay, even if in scholarly journal

  • Gray area (check with your professor):
    • Scholarly/peer-reviewed article in which authors analyze data someone else collected ("secondary data analysis")
    • Case studies reporting on one or a few particular clients/organizations

Research Question Mad Libs!

One example of how to put together a draft research question, Mad Libs style! Notice where the PICOT elements fit? This question doesn't have the optional Comparison or Time elements of PICOT. Simpler is often better!

How does (Independent Variable aka Intervention) influence (Dependent Variable aka measurable Outcome) among (specific Population)?