Social Work

Library of the Health Sciences

What's Your Question?

The first thing you need to do when looking for articles is determine exactly what you're asking. What's your population? It could be any demographic so long as it's definable. What about that population? Is there a certain date range or location? 

You don't need to type all this out when you do a search, but it helps to write it down somewhere. This way, you will have a guide to narrow down your results and fine tune your search.

Who Would Write About That? Who For?

You have your question, now what? Now we figure out where to look for answers. Think about your topic - who would be writing about that and who would they write it for? 

Let's use foster care as an example. A lot of people could write about it - educators, social workers, healthcare workers, psychologists and psychiatrists, community members including foster parents, foster children themselves or former ones. Now who for? All these writers could be writing for others like them or for someone else.

Who the information is written for determines where you search for it. If the intended audience is educators - ERIC, healthcare workers - CINAHL, mental health is PsycInfo, social work is SocIndex, and community members would be periodicals - found in Academic Search Premier.

Recommended Databases

Depending on your area of research, there are several options to choose from. For best results, it's recommended to look in at least 2 places. There may be some overlap between sites, but there will be unique articles as well.

Academic Search Premier: A general database for social sciences and humanities, includes periodicals and Ethnic New Watch

CINAHL: Nursing and allied health literature. Great for research on client care and interactions. Bonus - can narrow down to Evidence Based Literature.

ERIC: Education literature including K-12. If you're doing research that pertains to children, worth a look.

PsycInfo: Psychology and behavioral sciences, a must when looking into mental health.

SocIndex: Sociology index, always look here for research specific to your field.