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Social Work Subject Guide

An Academic Librarian guide for students


You can use NELSON to search the Library’s books, e-books, e-journals, videos & more. Login with your University username and password at the top right hand side of the page so you can access the full-text material and save your search results.

If the item is available electronically, you’ll see a link to the full-text online. If the content is available in print, you’ll see a shelfmark letting you know where to find the book on the shelf.

There are two videos available to help you make the most of NELSON; Introducing NELSON and Using NELSON for advanced searching

Google Scholar

Google Scholar Search

Google Scholar is a search engine that provides links to full-text articles to which the University Library System subscribes or to articles made freely available by the publisher. Scholar also provides articles from academic publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories and scholarly articles posted on the web. 

Did you know that you can link Google Scholar to full-text e-book and e-journal articles available on NELSON?

We have a video available for information on how to link Google Scholar to NELSON and to search it effectively.

Key Resources

In order to carry out focused research, you may find it more useful to search an individual database. Depending upon your topic area there may be a number of relevant databases and it is worthwhile searching more than one as not all articles are listed in every database.

You will be expected to make regular use of journals during your programme of study because they are more up-to-date than books and contain specialised information. We have created a  video explains what journals are, how they are organised, when you should use them and the different types you will come across.

All databases can be accessed via your subject collection in the ‘Databases’ tab in NELSON or using the direct links below. To access most of the databases you will need to login using your university login details.

The list below contains key sources for your subject areas but there may be times when you need to search other databases. For example, if you need information on teaching drama, you may also need to search an education database. You can access the full A-Z list of databases covering all subject areas. You can check the subjects & categories listing if you are unsure which database to search for your topic.

Useful databases for Social Work: 

  • ASSIA Abstracts around 800 journals in the social sciences and health, includes topics such as social services, economics, politics, race relations, education, business and law in society.
  • SAGE Journals Online Full text access to electronic journals published by Sage Publications.
  • Social Care Online is the UK's largest database of information on social work and social care. It includes legislation, government documents, practice and guidance, systematic reviews, research briefings and journal articles to events, training materials, video clips and blogs. Social Care Online is a product of the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE). You can register with Social Care Online for additional search functionality e.g. filters.
  • Taylor and Francis is the journal content platform for the Taylor & Francis Group. The platform gives online access to all journals from Taylor & Francis and Routledge. A program of retrodigitization means they have articles going back just over 200 years. The collection includes over 1600 full text titles in science and social science subject areas.

Multi-subject databases: the databases listed below cover more than one subject area and can be useful to broaden your search.

  • Science Direct is a full text database of over 1000 journal titles and is produced by Elsevier. It covers 1995 to the present and is a higher level database covering most subject areas. In order to view search results you will need to click on activate personalisation and complete the form the first time you log into Science Direct.

  • Web of Science Produced by Thomson ISI, Web of Science is an index to over 14,000 journal titles in Arts & Humanities, Social Sciences and Science subject fields (including abstracts) from 1900 to the present. A good starting point for most subject searches.

  • Zetoc A reference only database produced by the British Library, indexing over 20,000 research journals and 16,000 conference proceedings from 1993 onwards in all areas of academic study. A good starting point for most subjects.

Other subject databases:

Depending on your assignment, you may find it useful to look at other subject databases for specific information. Listed below are some databases that may be useful.

  • ABI Global Contains journal articles from a range of subject areas including business, economics, finance and information sciences. Many articles are in full, with some abstract only. A list of included publications is available.

  •  Emerald Full articles from 120 business, accounting, marketing, health management, HRM and IS journals and abstracts of articles from many more.

  • Education Research Complete is a bibliographic and full text database covering scholarly research and information relating to all areas of education. Topics covered include all levels of education from early childhood to higher education, and all educational specialties, such as multilingual education, health education, and testing. Education Research Complete also covers areas of curriculum instruction as well as administration, policy, funding, and related social issues. 

Using images

Using images to illustrate or make clear the description and discussion in your text is useful, but it is important that you give due recognition to the work of other people that you present with your own.  ‘IMAGE’ is used to refer to any visual resource such as a diagram, graph, illustration, design, photograph, or video. They may be found in books, journals, reports, web pages, online video, DVDs and other kinds of media. A ‘CREATOR’ of an image could be an illustrator, photographer, author or organisation. We have a video available for using images in your work.