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University Library

Master of Social Work

Using the Library: Information sources for social work - September 2011

The Library has a wide range of resources available to support your work. In order to use these resources effectively you need to be able to clearly answer the following questions:

  • What do you want to find?
  • How do you go about finding it?

What do I want to find?

Remember that taking a few moments to think about what information you need can save you a lot of wasted effort.

  • Break your topic down into key words and phrases. Use synonyms to help you broaden your search. Think about how you can combine your search terms.
  • What format do you want the information you find to be in? Are you looking for books, journal articles, websites or anything else?

There are certain tools available that can help you narrow or broaden a search, depending on which database you are using:

  • OR  - allows you to search for multiple search terms
  • "phrase" - ensures you are searching for a phrase rather than individual keywords
  • -not - excludes a term from a search
  • ~synonym - search for synonyms of a keyword
  • * - truncation allows you t osearch for multiple spellings (e.g. organi*ation, behavio*r) and for stems of words (e.g. searching for 'soci*' would return results that include 'social', 'society', 'sociology' etc.)
See the information on planning a search strategy for more help.

How do I go about finding it?

Use the library catalogue if you are looking for books and/or ebooks. Everything that the library has access to an be found via the catalogue.

If you want to find journal articles you can either:

  • Find an indivdual title of a print journal or ejournal on the library catalogue
  • Search a bibliographic database which cross-references many ejournal titles

A wide variety of other information related to social work can also be found via various databases such as research briefings, reports, government documents and legistlation. These resources include:

  • Web of Knowledge - This is a great database to use at the start of the information research process to find journal articles on a range of subjects.
  • Social Care Online - a free online resource where you can access the UK's most complete range of information and research on all aspects of social care, from fostering, to mental health, to human resources and much more. Content is drawn from journal articles, websites, research reviews, legislation and government documents, audio/visual material and service user knowledge.
  • International Bibliography of the Social Sciences (IBSS) - one of the largest and most comprehensive social science databases in the world; it includes details of articles in over 2400 selected international social science journals, and of around 7000 books per annum.
  • CareKnowledge - An extensive database of social care information which includes access to a number of full-text research briefings, reports, government documents, and journal articles plus websites.

These are other databases for the Social Sciences. Also, think about using other resources such as newspapers, statistics or theses. If you want to search the web for content remember to evaluate what you find. Try using Google Scholar via the library's webpages. Also try the Internet Social Worker, an online tutorial designed to help students and social workers use the Internet more effectively to support their social work training and their day to day practice.

Need some help?

Contact Ben Taylorson, the Academic Liaison Librarian for Applied Social Sciences