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Guidepost for Professional Seminar 2024

Hello Professional Seminar Students

And congratulation on achieving this milestone -

you are almost a professional social worker!

Getting Started

This Guidepost has two purposes:

1. As the Professional Seminar kicks off, you will be meeting for your final instruction session with a Faculty Librarian. We will use this page for a quick preparation for that session.

2. Throughout the semester, you can return to this Guidepost to check that you are covering multiple information sources, to refresh your memory as to how to find them, and to retrieve the information about contacting a Librarian directly.

Let's get started!

1. A Fun Two-Minute Survey

Please click on the link below to take a short, fun, anonymous survey. 

The content of our class together will be based upon the survey responses.

2. And Now Review

The remainder of this page highlights different information areas.  You should consider most, if not all, of these are information sources as you research your Professional Seminar project. 

Each box provides a brief definition and links to more information available through the Information Guides for Silberman School of Social Work.

Take a few minutes to review the remainder of this page.

Scope = Demographics & Statistics

Reference Material = Foundational Knowledge

Reference materials are information sources which provide definitive, factual, and concrete information. 

Reference articles discuss the foundational knowledge associated with a subject as it has been vetted by the experts in the field.  Reference articles may be used to provide background knowledge written for a general audience; to provide a definition of a concept or theory; to get a quick overview of what is widely accepted as authoritative on the topic.

Research Articles = Search for New Knowledge

Research articles report on new, original research.  They are published in academic journals.  Many, but not all, academic journals use a "peer review" process, also sometimes called "refereed".  This is an anonymous process in which experts in the discipline evaluate articles submitted for publication to ensure that the submission employs sound methodology and contains high quality content.

Typically a research article consists of : an abstract; a review of the literature; a statement of hypothesis, query or problem; a description of methodology; an analysis of data; and discussion.  The discussion may contain interpretive elements concerning the data.

Systematic Reviews & Meta-analysis

"A systematic review is an academic research paper that uses a method called ‘evidence synthesis’, which can include meta-analysis, to look for answers to a pre-defined question. The purpose of a systematic review is to sum up the best available research on that specific question."    - The Campbell Collaboration

'Open Source', 'Publicly Available', and 'Open Access'

'Open Source' refers to systems and software products that are freely available online to all users and for which the source code is freely available for use, modification, and re-distribution.

'Publicly Available' describes webpages and information items that are freely available to anyone with internet access.

'Open Access' is a term used to describe scholarly work that has been made freely available to all online.

Grey Literature & White Papers

"That which is produced on all levels of government, academics, business and industry in print and electronic formats, but which is not controlled by commercial publishers."    -  The Fourth International Conference on Grey Literature, October 1999

Grey literature is an umbrella term which covers many types of information sources and products.  Grey literature is produced by organizations whose primary function is NOT publishing.  Grey literature includes reports from governmental agencies, professional organizations, advocacy organizations, and think tanks. 

White Papers fall under the grey literature umbrella and are a type of authoritative reporting that typically cover governmental, social, or consumer issues.  White papers are prepared by governmental agencies, professional organizations, public policy and research organizations, and commercial enterprises.  By definition, they are based upon an exhaustive research process and frequently address new, controversial or developing trends, programs or products

Research Institutes & Think Tanks

"Think tanks are organizations that have significant autonomy from governmental interests and that synthesize, create, or disseminate information, ideas, or advice to the public, policymakers, other organizations, and the press." 

Anderson, G. L. & Herr, K.G. (Eds) (2007).  Think Tanks.  In Encyclopedia of Activism and Social Justice. (Vol. 3, pp. 1369-1372). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Reference.