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Introduction to Social Work Research: SSW 4396

Recommended library resources for SSW 4396: Introduction to Social Work Research

What you need to know about article databases

A library article database is a library subscription that allows you to search within a group of journals for articles on a particular topic.  Databases may contain citation-abstract records only, full-text articles, or some combination of the two.

ProQuest provides the library with several large collections, such as ProQuest Central and ProQuest Social Science Premium, which include the smaller more focused collections, such as Sociological Abstracts (which includes Sociology and  Social Services Abstracts), Public Health database, and individual database (US Newstream for newspapers).  Likewise, EBSCOhost provides the large-multidisciplinary database Academic Search Complete that includes more focused subject-based databases, such as APA PyscInfo (psychology), ERIC (education, and CINAHL (Nursing). Within these two search platforms, you can select one or more, among all the databases, or make your own collection of databases tailored to your information needs.

The benefits of using library database include having a controlled vocabulary (indexing or subject terms), advanced searching, browsing, and filtering results features, as well as saving search history and results. 

  • Select the appropriate methodology, subject, or review filter.  Add "review OR meta" in the title for a systematic review.  Add "bibliography" to your search term to find bibliographies on a subject.  Result for the terms "homeless* bibliography" in Library Search : Homelessness : An Annotated Bibliography
  • To search smarter and save time, try the Ten Finding Tips.

Some database contents, such as MEDLINE (health outcome related) and ERIC (education) can be searched for free using their government search sites, or through the provider or publisher platforms (ProQuest and EBSCOhost), where TU AccessNet login is required. 

  • On the government sites, only free to access or Open Access articles may be available.  For ERIC, MEDLINE, and other free to search government databases, going through the links provided by the library will allow you to access full-text from our library collections.
  • Many of the databases listed on this page index social and behavioral science journals. Use the Find Full Text links to get the full text.

Depending on your topic, other research guides may have an even more comprehensive list of relevant indexes and databases. See the Related Guides box on the main page of this guide for links to some that may be useful for social research.


Search across multiple databases or disciplines

Individual databases

Databases with a Methodology Filter

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

APAPsycInfo Search form page with Empirical study selected in Methodology filter   APAPsycInfo result page with Methodology filter box showing study types

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 

Ten Finding Tips

In addition to Library Search and talking with Subject Librarians, use the library research guides (or LibGuides) and databases and resources listed on this page to search and identify journal articles, books, book chapters and other publications in Social Work and related fields.

  1. Use all relevant terms or keywords and, if available, the database controlled vocabulary or indexing and cataloging terms ( thesaurus, subject headings, descriptors) in advanced search. Subject dictionaries, thesauri, and Credo Reference can help identify concepts and words for searching.  These guides maybe useful:
  1. Search one concept at a time and then combine them using "AND" or "OR".  Most databases automatically add "AND" between terms so AND may not be needed.
  • Parentheses can be used to specify the search order for operators in a search string.  If not, for example, in ProQuest and Web of Science, the order is PRE, NEAR, AND, OR, NOT. 
  • Watch Build Better Searches in Web of Science (5 min), to know how to use truncation, operators, parentheses (to set order for operators) and proximity. These functions are similar for other databases.
  • Be aware that Google operators work differently than those in library databases.
  1. Use database fields and filters, such as Date, Peer-Reviewed, Source Type, and Methodology  to focus and narrow your search.
    Check documentation to see which fields are mandatory or required to appear in every record.  In APA PsycINFO, for example, the only required fields in every record are title, abstract, author, keywords, publication date, publication type, release date, unique identifier. PubMed check tags appearing in nearly all indexed records include human, animal, male, female, pregnancy, age. These tags are ignored if not mentioned in the article.
    Geographic location:  For library catalogs, use location field and the geographic subject headings.  For APA PsycINFO search in geographic location field. For ERIC, there are location, laws, polices and programs and assessment and surveys identifiers.
    Use the How to apply methodology filters and Find Empirical and Evidence-Base Articles guides.
  2. Use database guides, tutorials, search tips, tools, and help to efficiently search, filter, save/download, cite and more.
  1. Follow linkages, such as subject, keyword, author, title or series, organization links and links to Similar Titles, Citations or Cited By, References, and More Like This.
  1. Register/Create account and login to save your search history and create alerts.
  2. Select the Find Full Text links to get the entire source for non-full text indexing databases.
    Link Google Scholar to Temple libraries to get full text within our collections.
  3. To save time, search the entire ProQuest Social Sciences Premium collection
  • Some database specific advanced filtering capability and thesaurus terms may not be available.
  • For the broadest ProQuest platform wide search, use ProQuest Academic One, which includes ProQuest Central (nearly all disciplines/subjects and different media types)
  1. Use Browzine to browse and read scholarly articles in Social Work journals.
    To create an account with the Browzine App, select Temple University and login with your TU AccesNet ID.
  2. Target Core Journals in Social Work and search all relevant databases.