Social Work and Human Services: Research projects

Find theses and other research, develop your research skills and more! Tips for postgraduate students and anyone doing a research methods course

Getting started

Need help starting your research? Seedling

Like assistance with writing your thesis? PhD, Masters and Professional Doctorate by research students can access a range of services and resources

Find theses

   Why?

Why look for existing theses?

  • Ensure that your topic has not been, or is not being, investigated by another researcher
  • Gain knowledge of other related research in your area of study
  • Discover the research that has preceded your topic
  • Explore methodologies and layouts used by other researchers in your field
   Where?

Have a look at our online guide to Theses

Navigate to the Theses research guide

This guide will help you to search databases to find theses, find exemplars and share your thesis through the Research Outputs Repository.

Research methods

Research methods are the techniques, processes, system or procedure followed where data or information is created and then analysed. It is essentially the way you collect your data for your thesis.

   SAGE Research Methods

Sage Research Methods is a comprehensive online collection of resources which you can access through the Library. You can explore methodological concepts to help you design your research project, understand a particular research method or identify a new method, and write up your research. 

Literature review: overview

This short (approx 2 mins) video from the Steely Library at Northern Kentucky University provides a quick introduction to literature reviews.

For help completing your literature review please see the following links:

 Record your search strategy so that you (and others) can replicate the process - this is essential for systematic reviews, but is generally advised to ensure transparency and replicability. Document search tools used, date searches conducted, search terms, any limits (e.g. year, language), and number of hits

 Sign up for accounts with key database providers (e.g. Ovid and ProQuest) so that you can save articles, search strategies, alerts and more for later use

 Set up alerts so that you keep up to date with material as it is published on your topic

 To conduct a comprehensive search, go beyond the major indexed databases to locate grey literature

 Manage and organise your search results using bibliographic management software such as EndNote

 Systematic review methodology was developed for medicine and healthcare, and aspects of the approach prescribed in the discipline may be inappropriate for certain social sciences research questions. Alternatives such as that developed by the UK Social Care Institute for Excellence may be more appropriate

'Successfully retrieving relevant information begins with a clearly defined, well-structured question.'

Davies, KS 2011, 'Formulating the evidence based practice question: a review of the frameworks', Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, vol. 6, no. 2, p. 75.

Developing a Research Question (Academic Skills, University of Melbourne)

A range of standardised frameworks have been developed to assist in developing focused, answerable questions which can be easily broken down into searchable components for more relevant results.

Examples of framing the question are available on the UniSA Systematic Review Guide.

Navigate to the Systematic reviews research guide

The literature review: where and how to search

Some of the key search tools for Social Work and Human Services include:

Databases for related disciplines and key multidisciplinary databases

Subject headings (also known as descriptors) are the most specific terms available from a set list (or thesaurus) to describe the themes of a publication. An indexer assigns these terms and you can then use them in searching.

Not all databases have a thesaurus. Where they do, however, this can be used as an alternative to or in combination with keyword searching to both increase the relevance of your search and ensure that you are finding material on that theme regardless of the terminology used by the author. 

 Tips for searching databases

Use limits to refine your search

Your selection criteria/parameters will determine any limits you will apply when searching, e.g. age range, male/female, English/other languages, and/or type of study.

The limits available vary across databases. You will need to adapt your search strategy to each database (e.g. search for study types as a separate search string, rather than selecting these from a refinement option).

Capture your search strategy

Most database, including Medline and Google Scholar, have a Search History function.

This enables you to view all of the searches that you have performed in a search session (including any limits applied), edit and re-run searches, variously combine searches and save searches for future reference. Copy or export your search history to demonstrate the search strategy used for your review

 

Help searching ProQuest

Grey literature

 Video Length: 5 minutes 13 seconds

Navigate to the Grey Literature research guide