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SOCIAL WORK 701 - La Rose Fall 2020

Conducting Research Worksheet

Conducting research worksheet 

  1. Research Topic or Question 

Write your research topic or question.  



  1. Key Concepts and Search Terms 

Examine your research topic or question. What are the main concepts? 

How can these concepts be expressed differently? 

Sample topic: What is the impact of economic recovery on social services to the poor? 

Search Terms 

(main concepts + synonyms, alternate phrasing, abbreviations, etc. 

Concept #1 

economic recovery 

Concept #2 

social services 

Concept #3 






  1. Preliminary Search Statement 

Use the chart to help you create a search statement. As a general rule, incorporate no more than  

2 or 3 concepts into the statement. 

Use appropriate “boolean” connectors (and, or, not) to combine search terms and phrases. 

Example: econom* and (social services or social policy) and (poor or poverty) 



  1. Determine the scope or limits of your research (how much of “the literature” am I searching through?):  

  • Publication Dates: ______________________________________________________ 

  • Language(s):______________________________________________________ 

  • Types of sources:See table below. 

Document Type  

Useful For 

Find Using 


Overviews of topics 

Catalogue (books, gov pubs)  


Books @ Scholars Portal 

Reference books 

Introduction to a topic; overview of themes and methodologies  

Catalogue (books, gov pubs) 


Articles (scholarly and popular); Literature reviews  

Latest research on a topic 

Discovery (books, gov pubs, articles)  

Databases e.g. Journals @ Scholars Portal, Social Sciences Abstracts, CBCA, CPI.Q 

 Dissertations / Theses 

Current; comprehensive literature reviews 

Proquest Dissertations & Theses 

MacSphere (McMaster’s Institutional Repository) 

Conferences papers 

Unpublished and forthcoming research 

Web of Science database 

Search Engines 

Government information 

Legislation, policies, reports, etc. 

Catalogue (books, gov pubs) 


Canadian Public Documents Collection 

Search Engines 



Statistics Canada 

CANSIM database 

Search Engines 

Newspaper articles 

Current information 


Lexis Nexis, Factiva 

Search Engines 

  1. Determine the resources you will use to conduct your research. Explore a Database. 

  • Does the database have a thesaurus (list of subject terms used to classify and organize information; shows relationships between terms)? 

  • How many years does it cover? 

  • Can I isolate review articles? 

  • Can I search by a particular methodology e.g. participatory research? 

  1. Evaluate and select your sources 

  1. Start with established or seminal articles or works (consult with your supervisor). 

  1. Evaluation criteria 

Content: What are the key contributions of the item for the topic? What limitations should be noted? How does it relate to other works? 

Accuracy: Are there any grammatical or spelling errors? How comprehensive is the coverage? 

Authority: Who is the author? Credentials? To what extent is the work cited by others? 

Objectivity: Assess the point of view. Is there a bias on the part of the publisher, author or organization? Is the work fair, balanced and reasonable? Can you determine any conflict of interest? 

Currency: Is it important to have recent information for this topic? When was the item written? When was the content last updated? 

  1. Cite your sources accurately and consistently. A citation management tool can help! 


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