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SWK 4010 - Social Work Practice with Organizations and Communities

How to Research a Community

  1. Clearly Define the Community
  2. Make a Research Plan
  3. Save what you find!
Clearly Define the Community

Example: Oswego, IL. I recently moved to Oswego, I'd like to learn more about my community.

Create a Research Plan

Use a blank word doc, google doc, or scratch piece of paper.

  • Where is the community?
    • Write down the name of the town, city, county, state, school district(s) 
    • Example: Village of Oswego, Kendall County, Illinois, School District 308 
  • Who is in the community?
    • Find demographic information about residents.
    • Consider who I will interview. 
      • Example: Owner of the The Peach Ring or My Little Sisters Donuts
      • Example: Someone at the Oswego Public Library
    • Are there any organizations already serving this community?
  • When will I complete my walkthrough / windshield tour?
  • What communities are similar to Oswego?

Suggestions for Research

Demographic Data
  • American Fact Finder
    • Type in the name of the city you are researching for information on population, income, etc.
  • QuickFacts
    • QuickFacts provides statistics for all states and counties, and for cities and towns with a population of 5,000 or more.
Navigating City, Town and County Websites

Cities and counties usually have a website. Start with a Google Search, Example: Oswego, IL

Village of Oswego Website:

Example: Kendall County, IL

Kendall County Website:

Look for webpages / sections of the website that discuss residents. Every site will be different, but usually you will find this information under About Us, History, Demographic Information or Community Profile.

Also look for information on city government, these sections will give you access to Board meeting minutes, agendas, etc.  

Local Newspapers

Save what you find!

Use your research plan to keep track of the sources you find. Here are some examples from my research:

APA Citations


General Format:

Author, A.A. & Author B.B. (Date of publication).Title of page. Retrieved from

If no author is listed, start with Title of Page. Example:

Community Profile. (n.d) Retrieved from

More examples: Purdue OWL APA Formatting and Style Guide - Reference List: Electronic Sources