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Library Research Guides

SW 522 - Basic Social Work Research

Step 1 - What's the research problem or question?

The first step for any research project, whether it is a dissertation, a grant proposal or research to find the best practice intervention is formulate a question you want to answer. Being clear on the question makes it easier to formulate a research strategy for finding the best information about this question.

Here are some examples of research questions:

  • What are things to keep in mind when working with transgender elderly adults in a health care setting?
  • What are the best interventions for preventing youth violence in Asian urban communities?
  • How can social workers best meet the needs of children of illegal immigrants?
  • Are there proven ways to increase trust when urban communities become polarized?

When starting your research you may or may not have a clear question but by starting with an idea and formulating this idea into a question you will be able to review the literature already written on this topic which will likely help you to refine and narrow your questions or give you ideas for new research questions you may not have though about previously.


See the Danya International Research Assistant tutorial section on Formulating a Research Question for some additional tips. This tutorial was funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH) and the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).




Back to the main page on the 7 steps of the research process