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Social Work Research Guide

Social work databases

Parts of an Academic Research Article

Research articles tend to have 6 or 7 parts, each part is normally labeled.

  • Abstract: This first part of the article, normally at the top and set apart from the rest of the article. The abstract describes what the article is about. 
  • Introduction:The first part of the actual text, it explains why the researchers selected the topic to study and why it is important.
  • Literature Review: In this section the authors discuss research that is important to their study, this section can be long or short. Sometimes the introduction and literature review sections are combined.
  • Methods & Data Analysis: The methods portion of the article explains how the researchers actually conducted the research. Often it will include information on the participants and data collection methods used. They will also explain how the data was analyzed. This section may also include limitations of the research.
  • Results: This is where the authors tell you what they found.
  • Discussion: Here the authors discuss how their findings (results) tie back into the other research done in the field and why what they found is important. They may also give ideas for further research.
  • References: This sections includes all the references to items cited within the body of the article.

Why should I use databases rather than a search engine like Google?

The open Internet only holds a small percentage of the information stored online. Using Library sources gives you access to private information, such as:

  • Book content
  • Original, primary, and historical documents
  • Subscribed content
  • Copyright protected material

Advantages to searching within databases as a research strategy: 

  • Databases are often limited by academic discipline, which may give you fewer, but more relevant, results.
  • Databases are highly structured, which means you can perform complex searches using controlled vocabulary.

TIP: Searching databases with the keywords recommended in this research guide is a good starting strategy. However, be aware that some databases may use different terminology. When you find a relevant article, check the subject headings and article description for terminology that could be useful in a new keyword search.

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