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SOCW 553: Research Knowledge and Evidence in Clinical Social Work Practice

Overview of evidence-based practice, literature review/systematic review workflows, and citation management for your written EBP assignment.

Overview of Steps

  1. Prepare research question using PICO(T)
  2. Determine eligibility criteria and key definitions
  3. Develop search strategy + translate to all databases
    • Search terms and Boolean
    • Limiters
  1. Searches run in databases (including grey literature databases if appropriate)
  2. Hand searching journals and websites (if appropriate)
  3. Export all results to Covidence
  4. De-duplicate results in Covidence - verifying duplicates found
  1. Screen title and abstracts against eligibility criteria - minimum of 2 reviewers
  2. Download full-text for remaining studies
  3. Screen full-text against eligibility criteria - minimum of 2 reviewers
    • Note exclusion reasons
  4. Critically appraise remaining studies for risk of bias - CASP, Gibb's, or SIGN
    • Use the tool appropriate for the type of research being analyzed (e.g. RCT, qualitative, etc.)
  1. Extract data from the included studies based on predetermined criteria
    • E.g. author, title, publication year, age of participants, application to inclusion criteria, type of intervention used
  2. Thematically categorize qualitative data or visually display quantitative data
  1. Write your review using appropriate reporting guidelines (e.g. PRISMA) - ensure all elements are documented and discussed
  2. Append search strategies and any other documentation that will allow the reader to see a transparent methodology for your review

Keeping Track

Documenting your research from beginning to end may be the most important part of the process. The steps you took to conduct your research need to be able to be replicated. 

You will also need to write a detailed methods section for your assignment - and keeping detailed track of what your group did at each stage will be crucial to ensure the methods are written out in their entirety. Think about if you picked up someone's paper and were trying to repeat what they did - you'd want as much detail as possible. 


When keeping track of your searches, you want to ensure you are writing down the following pieces of information:

  1. Database searched (including the provider of the database)
  2. Search term(s) used (if applicable - how they were combined - AND/OR/NOT)
  3. Limiters used - i.e. dates, language, peer-reviewed
  4. Number of results found
  5. Date of your search
  6. Comments on the results (if applicable)

Often, databases will now have options for printing and/or saving search histories when you make an account. Take advantage of these to avoid a lot of manual tracking.