Social Work

Starting points and links for your Social Work research.

Literature Review Assignment

This assignment information is from your course syllabus.

Assignment 1. Knowledge Mobilization and Translation Assignment.  Value: 25% of Final Grade

Due on Week 6.  Students may select their own groups.

Each group will select a research topic they wish to explore and create a group or “research team” The groups’ research topic will be the focus of this assignment and the final research proposal poster presentation.

This assignment is to prepare a literature review.

Each of the group members will read a number of potential sources for the literature review (these can be research articles, book chapters, etc. that you think are relevant for the topic of your interest). This way each group will have at least 10 sources reviewed for the proposal. Then, each member will share the individual summary with the group.

To begin organizing the review of the articles, it is recommended to use the grid below, but if you have your own strategy that proved effective, feel free to use it.

Author, Title & Country

Source & Audience

Philosophical Paradigm & Design

Theoretical Perspective

Research Question



What is missing?


Plan your keyword searching strategy.

  • Select one or two of the most important terms; use AND between them.
    • Example: children and poverty; poverty and canada; poverty and families
  • Don't use sentences - select the important basic concepts and a word to capture them.
    • Not: "how does poverty affect children in rural settings", instead: "children and poverty and rural".
  • Start broad to capture as many items as possible, and then narrow with further keywords only if necessary.
    • The more keywords you add, the fewer items you find, and the more specific they are.
  • Use truncation symbols to include more items, if necessary.  Many databases do automatic truncation now, but the Library Catalogue does not.
    • In the Library Catalogue use $ at the end of a term to find multiple endings.  Example: famil$ finds "family" and "families".
    • In the Library Catalogue use ? within a term to find any letter in that position.  Example: wom?n finds "women" and "woman".
  • Use OR between terms to broaden your search by finding synonyms.
    • Examples: poor or poverty; school or education.
    • You need brackets if you're including many terms.  Example: (poor or poverty) and (children or families).

Finding Articles

Click the tab for "Articles" at the top of this page for link to relevant databases and tutorials on finding articles.

To find articles, you start with an "index" - a database that describes published articles.  Search the database, look at the descriptions for the articles that interest you, then follow links to the full-text of the articles.  It's a process that can take some time and careful planning.

See the tutorials for "Finding Articles" and "Keyword Searching" to understand how to use the indexes most effectively.  Much of this material has been covered in the library presentation given in class.

Research Reports

Click the tab for "Research Reports" at the top of this page for information on finding them.

Research reports are excellent sources of information on previous research studies.  They are often full descriptions of the research done by a social service organization, similar to the proposal you're creating for this course.

Library Presentation

I'll be attending your class to go over the process of using library resources to find books, articles, and research reports on the following dates:

  • Thursday September 8, 2016 - Peterborough campus
  • Monday September 12, 2016 - Durham campus

Finding Books

Click the tab for "Books" at the top of this page for sample e-books available through the Trent Library, useful the Library Catalogue search strategies, e-book databases, and tutorials relevant to finding books.

Library Catalogue

The Library Catalogue is the best place to start your search for books.  It contains brief descriptions of books available on our shelves, and links to e-books that have been purchased by the library.


Many of our newer books are purchases as e-books.  In most cases, you can follow the link in the Library Catalogue to open an e-book on your desktop.  Our e-book packages usually offer options for saving books to review later, making notations as you read, and printing sections.

The majority of our available e-books are listed in the Library Catalogue, but there are also links to the provider's sites where you can search for other e-books available.  These searches may suggest books not available to Trent, unless you limit your search to those available.  We don't always have access to every book on the site.

Interlibrary Loans

You can search the catalogues of other university libraries, and request an "Interlibrary Loan" for a book.  This is a service that borrows books from other libraries and makes them available to you.  Physical books will be shipped to our library for you to pick up, and must be returned by the due date.  Sometimes a chapter of a book can be emailed to you, if that's what you request. 

Depending on how busy the sending library is, and on how completely and accurately you complete the order form, these loans will be available to you within a few days or up to several weeks.