"In social work, most agree that EBP is a process involving creating an answerable question based on a client or organizational need, locating the best available evidence to answer the question, evaluating the quality of the evidence as well as its applicability, applying the evidence, and evaluating the effectiveness and efficiency of the solution. EBP is a process in which the practitioner combines well-researched interventions with clinical experience, ethics, client preferences, and culture to guide and inform the delivery of treatments and services."
Excerpt from the National Association of Social Workers' Evidence-Based Practice web page. The NASW defines Evidence-Based Practices, Evidence-Based Treatments, Evidence-Based Interventions, and Evidence-Informed Interventions and lists links to EBP resources.
"Evidence-based practice (EBP) is an educational and practice paradigm that includes a series of predetermined steps aimed at helping practitioners and agency administrators identify, select, and implement efficacious interventions for clients. This entry identifies definitions of EBP and traces the evolution of EBP from its origins in the medical profession to its current application in social work. Essential steps in the process of EBP and challenges associated with applying EBP to social work practice, education, and research are noted."
Jenson, J., & Howard, M. (2013). Evidence-Based Practice. In Encyclopedia of Social Work. : Oxford University Press.
View All Research and Evidence-Based Practice entries in Encyclopedia of Social Work.
Evidence-Based Practice is "the use of the best available scientific knowledge derived from randomized controlled outcome studies, and meta-analyses of existing outcome studies, as one basis for guiding professional interventions and effective therapies, combined with professional ethical standards, clinical judgment, and practice wisdom."
The Social Work Dictionary, 6th Edition (2014, NASW Press)
Podcast -- Four useful principles for evidence-based policy and practice
The Campbell Collaboration is an international social science research network that produces high quality, open and policy-relevant evidence syntheses, plain language summaries and policy briefs.
Several library databases have a way to filter search results for empirical methodologies. Try the techniques in bold in the following databases, in combination with other search terms for the topic you are researching.
It is also useful to search for the controlled vocabulary in the thesaurus or subject headings of the databases and use those terms and variants in searching. Look up a research method or search using terms like empirical, qualitative, quantitative, evaluation, correlation, intervention, or observation or browse by available categories. The Cochrane Library also has suggested Search strategies to identify observational studies in MEDLINE and Embase that can be used for other sources as well.
For databases and search engines without a methodology filter, such as Web of Science and Google Scholar, try (1) copying and pasting one or more of the types of studies listed for the Sociological Abstracts database or enter "study" to be broad with your search terms; and (2) include the operator AND (e.g. ("domestic violence" OR "intimate partner violence") AND study).
Left image: Methodology filter on the search form Right image: Methodology filter within Refine Results
Embase also has MEDLINE records.
In the results filters, look at Study types, and check the ones you want, such as controlled study, case report, retrospective study, cohort analysis, cross sectional study, systematic review, comparative study, prospective study, interview, longitudinal study, randomized controlled trial, observational study, meta analysis, qualitative research, semi structured interview, pilot study. Read also about General Study Types Hedges
In medical and nursing literature, a level of evidence may be assigned to a research article based on the quality of their methodological design, validity, and applicability to patient care.
Correlational studies might fall into Level IV or V on this chart, whereas intervention studies might fall into Levels II, III, or IV.
Adapted from Melnyk, B. M., & In Fineout-Overholt, E. (2011). Evidence-based practice in nursing & healthcare: A guide to best practice.
"A systematic review attempts to collect and analyze all evidence that answers a specific question. The question must be clearly defined and have inclusion and exclusion criteria. A broad and thorough search of the literature is performed and a critical analysis of the search results is reported and ultimately provides a current evidence-based answer to the specific question."
Source: Systematic Reviews. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2020)
Social Work and Systematic Reviews
Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analysis: Pocket Guides to Social Work Research Methods. Littell, J. H., Corcoran, J., & Pillai, V. K. (2008). Oxford University Press.
Intervention studies are experimental studies that test the effectiveness of a preventative or therapeutic measure.
Look for Methodology or Publication Types that use terms like clinical trial, randomised-controlled (RCT), experimental, quasi-experimental, treatment outcome study.
Correlational studies are observational studies that look at the relationships between two or more variables that are not controlled by the researcher. These studies can reveal if a relationship exists between variables, but are limited because they do not prove causation. They are often used for gathering information about a topic or in situations where performing an experiment is not possible.
Look for Methodology or Publication Types that use terms like cohort, case-control, descriptive, or observational, longitudinal study.
Empirical research articles refer to articles reporting on the findings of research or studies that collect and analyze qualitative and/or quantitative data, gathered from experience, experiments, interviews, observations and other senses, following the scientific method, to provide knowledge or evidence to the specific questions being studied or researched.
A empirical or scientific research paper will often have the following sections:
Some journals have additional Supplementary Online Information with important details of the research.