Creative Arts in Social Work Practice

Course #: SK412-BR

About this Guide

This guide was created for SK412 students. It includes information about doing a research paper: developing a research question, searching the scholarly literature, working with sources, and citing. Reviewing the guide will help with Assignment 4.

Getting Started

Developing a Research Question

Once you have your topic, it helps to think about what your research question will be. While your research question may not actually appear in your paper, brainstorming a question to explore and answer can help direct your inquiry.

PICO for Evidence-Informed Practice

The PICO approach can help you define your research question in terms of a specific patient problem. A well-defined question will help you find relevant evidence in the published research.

Example PICO question: For adolescents suffering from depression after the loss of a friend, does music therapy, as opposed to no treatment, result in lower levels of depression?

  • Patient / Population / Problem (e.g. adolescents)
  • Intervention (e.g. music therapy)
  • Comparison (e.g. no treatment)
  • Outcome (e.g. lower levels of depression)
Developing a Thesis

You'll begin to develop a thesis as you work on an answer to your research question.

While your initial research question / thesis may need refining, as you search you'll be able to make it more complete.

Finding Scholarly Literature About Your Topic

a. Finding Peer-reviewed Articles

Peer-reviewed articles are excellent sources of evidence-based information. Visit the Social Work Research Guide for a list of databases to search for articles.

Searching subject specific databases such as Social Services Abstracts and Social Work Abstracts will help you find articles relevant to your topic.

b. Finding Books

Search the library catalogue to find books on your topic.

What if the book you want isn't online or in Brantford?

You can order a book from other libraries and have it shipped to Brantford for easy pick-up.

Database Search Tips

There are different tactics you can use to improve your search results. Check out the videos below to find out more.

Working with Your Sources

Writing a research paper requires you to put your sources in conversation with one another.

Synthesize the Research Literature

Synthesizing involves combining the findings you uncover in different sources to draw new conclusions.

How does the research literature you found combine in different ways to address your research question / thesis?

Compare and contrast your sources.

  • Highlight the research question / thesis statement of each source
  • Take note of common themes as you read
  • Take note of well-articulated and unique ideas from each source
  • Re-visit the readings you plan to use as you gain insight from new sources
  • Consider how researchers' viewpoints overlap or diverge on certain issues
  • Watch for gaps in the literature
Tip: When you read, notice the ways that the authors of journal articles bring in their sources.

Citing Sources in APA, 6th Ed.

You'll find the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association in the Brantford Collection (BF76.7 .P83 2010).

It's also very important to know When to Cite (video: 2:01).


Please get in touch, I'll be happy to help!

  • Meredith Fischer, Social Work Librarian