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Quick Tips on Preparing For Research
Before you start:
- understand the key terms you may be using as well as the general area that interests you;
- think about ways to narrow your topic, making it as specific as possible (unless you have been given a specific topic to research!);
- create a thesis statement;
- list the main concepts (key words) included in your thesis statement (research question), then based on your readings;
- find as many synonyms as you can for each main concept. You are now ready to start searching in the library's catalogue and databases.
When you are looking for definitions or if you don’t know much about a specific subject, reference works such as dictionaries and encyclopedias become invaluable because they contain relatively short—and understandable—articles. These articles often lay out the parameters of a subject and can assist you in trying to narrow your topic. Often such articles are accompanied by lists of readings (bibliographies) which allow you to explore your topic further.
Dictionaries and Encyclopedias for Social Work
Subject-Specific encyclopedias and dictionaries clarify unfamiliar words and discipline-specific concepts. When you are looking for definitions or if you are not familiar with a subject, reference works such as dictionaries and encyclopedias become invaluable because they contain relatively short, authoritative articles. These articles lay out the parameters of a topic and can assist you in providing a specific focus. Often such articles are accompanied by lists of readings or bibliographies which allow you to explore the topic further. All of the resources listed below link either to the library catalogue record for each book or to an online resource or website
The Social Work Dictionary (in print) 5th ed. 2003.
Encyclopedia of Social Work (online): This new edition of the Encyclopedia includes coverage of areas that have come to the fore since the 1995 publication of the 19th edition, including demographic changes from immigration, technology, the implications of managed care, faith-based assistance, evidence-based practice, gerontology, and trauma and disaster. Each article is written and signed by a top academic or social work practitioner and includes a bibliography for further reading.
Encyclopedia of Drugs, Alcohol, and Addictive Behavior: This resource contains more than 700 articles focusing on the social, political, and medical issues surrounding addictions.
The Encyclopedia of Interpersonal Violence: This resource covers violence according to categories, including theories, syndromes, disorders, civil and criminal code violations, and research methods.
Encyclopedia of Counseling: Changes and Challenges in the 21st Century: This resource is a four-volume work, with more than 600 entries divided by category (changes and challenges, personal/emotional counseling, cross-cultural counseling, and career counseling).
Encyclopedia of Research Design: This resource is interdisciplinary, but provides extensive coverage into various research methods, as well as tables, equations, and figures used in actual studies.