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SW 564 School Social Work: Evidence Based Practice Literature

Evidence Based Practice Databases

The following resources point you to established evidence based practices. However, note that your particular topic or interest might not be represented in this type of literature. If you are having trouble finding documents via these EBP databases, then consider searching for research articles on your topic. You can use databases such as PsycINFO, Social Services Abstracts, and ERIC to find quantitative studies such as Randomized Controlled Trials, or qualitative studies. 

Levels of Evidence

illustration of ebp pyramid, hierarchy of evidence

Different types of research demonstrate stronger or weaker levels of evidence, in order: 

  • practice guidelines and manuals, 
  • systematic reviews and meta-analyses
  • randomized control trials and other quantitative studies
  • qualitative studies and clinical experience

The pyramid organizes these types of research in order of strength, but also makes note of the difference in the amount of research available. For example, while systematic reviews and meta-analyses provide strong sources of evidence to answer a clinical question, there are quite a bit fewer of these resources than the more common quantitative research article. 

Robin A. Paynter, (2009) "Evidence-based research in the applied social sciences", Reference Services Review, 37 (4), pp.435 - 450.

Search Strategies

Search the EBP database most appropriate for your topic for systematic reviews or meta-analyses. If none are found, move to the most appropriate disciplinary database. 

Focus on finding original research studies as opposed to literature reviews. 

If you are still not finding useful articles, consider that your search may be too narrow. Sometimes you need to find items that are similar enough to your question that you can extrapolate the findings. 

  • Databases such as PsycINFO have limits that can be applied for systematic reviews, randomized controlled trials, and qualitative research.
  • Adding the term "systematic review" or "meta-analysis" to your search is another strategy for limiting your search.
  • Look for research that had a study population similar to your client.
  • Look for key indicators of empirical research in the title and abstract, such as references to an experimental group and control ground comparison, or a stated research methodology.

Search for Research Articles

When searching for evidence from quantitative or qualitative research articles, adding keywords like "evidence-based" or "systematic review" will help focus your search.