SCWK 4153-001: Social Welfare Policy

This guide has been created to assist students in researching topics for their social policy analysis paper.

Take Aways

Here are some helpful hints to assist you in getting the most out of research.

1.  Buy a copy of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.  6th edition.  The first three chapters are a very important guide to writing for an academic audience.

2.  Set the foundation - build your skills, just as you would  in learning anything new.  The more you do it the better you become.

3.  Ask for help!  Get to know your subject librarian.  We can help you with search strategies and source selection to maximize your time management.

4.  Utilize the "Find It" feature on the Libraries website.

5.  Sign up for Interlibrary Loan which is also known as Illiad.

6.  Sign up for "Open Sessions", especially the ones pertaining to undergraduate research and Zotero or RefWorks.




Social Policy Description (You will need to research the information to gather the required data)

Provide the title of the policy to be analyzed and the year in which it was passed.

What is the social problem that this policy addresses?

What is the scope of the problem (i.e. approximately how many people are affected by it? Cite your source)

Discuss the purpose(s) of the policy.

Staple the first page of the policy bill to this description.

Abbreviated Example. The Assets for Independence Act (AFIA) was a federal legislative bill that was passed in 1999 to help low- and moderate-income people build assets in the form of homeownership, small business development, and post-secondary education through Individual Development Accounts (IDAs). The AFIA was passed to address the problem of poverty in the United States. Approximately 13.5% of the U.S. population has a reported household income that is below the federal poverty. Continue…]


*NOTE: Keep in mind that in this section you are discussing the social policy, not the problem.

Policy Goals, Objectives and Outcomes

In your own words, describe the stated goals, objectives and anticipated outcomes of the policy.

[As Cobb-Clark and Hildebrand (2003) suggest, household wealth in the form of assets has a direct effect on the ability of immigrants to achieve success in the U.S. The Assets for Independence Act is designed to provide Individual Development Accounts to help low-income immigrants create wealth for this generation and the next. For example, it is hypothesized that.... continue…]


What resources (e.g. funding, services, training), if any, does the policy provide to address the social problem? [e.g. The Assets for Independence Act (AIA) provides $10 million in funds each year to eligible IDA programs across the country. Eight percent of funds are allocated for administrative purposes, four percent are reserved for program evaluation, and the remaining funds are earmarked for IDA matching funds. In addition to funds for programs, the AIA provides economic education training grants for….. continue….].

If the policy does not provide funding or other resources, state this and explain why this may be the case.

Also, explain how the policy can address the social problem without funds for services, training or education.

Targeted Population

Describe AND Discuss which populations are covered by the policy. [e.g. In an effort to reach households who need support for asset development, IDAs are offered to individuals who earn 150% of the median income. To date, over 27,000 individuals, 10,000 of whom are immigrants, have joined an IDA program in the United States. Ninety-two percent of IDA participants are female, making this the largest asset-building opportunity for women since the Philadelphia Savings Society in the early 20th century. Continue…]


Evaluation of Social Policy

Identify 4-5 basic social work values that fit with the policy goals (i.e., social and economic justice, self-determination, civil rights, client rights, self-realization, empowerment, etc.).

Discuss how these identified social work values fit with the policy goals [e.g. This policy fits with the empowerment perspective in that it….continue…]



In 4-5 sentences, provide a summary of the paper (i.e. what was the goal of the paper, how did you meet that goal, what did you learn about the policy?).

What are your thoughts and opinions regarding the successes and/or challenges with this policy?

Research and Literature Reviews: not as daunting as they seem

A literature review is the first step when writing a research paper. It will allow you to locate books, journal articles and government publications, legislative histories and other publications published by state and federal government, in order to support or refute the research you are doing. They can give you an overview or act as background to more recent information. A literature review allows you to  learn about the history of a field and current developments. It allows you to find the most pertinent or relevant books and journal articles related to a subject.

Search Strategies

I like to use the same techniques as developing a topic sentence, for developing a search strategy.

Start with your topic sentence.  I am researching dementia and interventions.  

Next break it down.  What are other words that can be used?

dementia   alzheimers  cognitive impairment

interventions  housing care medical mental health social



ethnicity or race

I like to use the same techniques as developing a topic sentence, for developing a search strategy.

Start with your topic sentence. I am researching dementia and interventions.

Next break it down. What are other words that can be used?

dementia alzheimers cognitive impairment

interventions housing care medical mental health social



ethnicity or race

Connect them using the following words

and : narrows your results. All words must be in the results alzheimers and housing

or : broadens your results. Any of the words must be in your results. (alzheimers or dementia) 

not :excludes words. alzheimers not early onset

() : allows you to combine it all together. (alzheimers or dementia) and (housing) and (men or veterans)