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A Social Work Research Guide

Social work research guide

Boxes on This Find Articles Page

Here are links to the boxes on this Find Articles page.  The links will quickly jump the screen to the boxes of information.
Finding Articles 
Finding Articles - Searching Tips
Brown School Faculty/Staff Articles 
Finding Articles - Selected Databases by Category

Finding Articles

Search our selected list of databases for a database that has articles on your topic.

When searching for topics that are not related to social work, social policy, or public health, there are several options for finding appropriate databases:

Finding Articles - Searching Tips

Truncation (Generally, you must have at least 3 letters before the truncation symbol.)
Ebsco: * is unlimited characters.  For example: random*
Ebsco wildcard rules:
"Please note that * wildcard terms OR'd together may exceed the maximum keyword limit in rare circumstances so not all the terms are generated when OR-ing multiple search steps together that are generated in the individual search steps." per Ebsco help 3-11-2019.
GrantForward: "Our system automatically searches for all forms of a word without any truncation symbols needed, so you do not need to use a truncation symbol." per help 5-9-2022
ProQuest: * is up to 5 characters.  Therefore use [*20] for the maximum number of characters. Note: twenty is the maximum.  For example, random* won't pull up randomization, but random[*12]  will pull up randomization.
PubMed: No more than 256 truncation symbols allowed in a search query. Must have at least 4 characters before the truncation symbol.
Web of Science: * is unlimited characters.  NOTE: You cannot use after special characters (/ @ #) and punctuation (. , : ; !). 
Can you truncate inside a phrase? (quotation marks surround the phrase)
African Journal Archive - no
African Journals Online AJOL - no
Cochrane Library - no (use NEXT operator instead) - no
Ebsco group of databases - yes  "flutter* butterfl*"
Embase - no (use NEXT/1 operator instead)
JSTOR - no
Library Catalog - no
OpenGrey - no (use NEAR/1 instead)
ProQuest group of databases - yes if the phrase has two or more words  "flutter[*8] butterfl[*10]"
PubMed - yes
Scopus - yes  "flutter* butterfl*"
Web of Science - yes  "flutter* butterfl*"
World Health Organization African Index Medicus - yes "birth attendant*"
More phrase searching notes:
Ebsco group of databases: "family" doesn't find: family's  (possessive forms will not be searched)
ProQuest group of databases: "family" does find family's (possessive forms are found)
Ebsco group of databases: "weight" does find: weight-gain
ProQuest group of databases: "weight" does find weight-gain
What is the proximity operator? The examples below use 2 as a number, but you can use a different number in your search.
Cochrane Library: NEAR/2 
Cochrane Library (order matters, no option for intervening words): NEXT (order matters) "salmon upstream"~2
Ebsco group of databases: N2
Ebsco group of databases (order matters): W2
Embase: NEAR/2
Embase (order matters): NEXT/2
Library Catalog: salmon WITHIN 2 upstream
Medline via PubMed: can't use truncation: "rationing healthcare"[Title:~2] OR "smoking asthma"[tiab:~2] ( )
OpenGrey: salmon* NEAR/2 pike*
ProQuest group of databases: N/2 example: (elephant[*10] OR giraffe*) N/2 (statue* OR democra[*10] OR “efficacy of deterrent*” OR eloquent OR “thatch* grass”)
ProQuest group of databases (order matters): PRE/2
Scopus: W/2
Web of Science: NEAR/2 
Do you need to search using foreign language words if you are limiting to one or more foreign languages?
Yes. Titles and abstracts only have English words when provided by the publisher to the database.  Otherwise, the title and/or abstract will not be in English.
Does PubMed still have a time lag for a citation to receive MeSH and filters?
Yes, even with automated MeSH processing, the more recent citations still take time for receiving MeSH and filters.  Continue to search titles/abstracts for keywords in order to include the more recent citations in your search.
Where is the Search History?
Ebsco group of databases: In Advanced Search mode, Search History link is under the search box.
ProQuest group of databases: Recent Searches link is at the top, right of the screen (looks like a counterclockwise arrow).
ScienceDirect: does not display the search history unless you sign into your free account.
Scopus: Search history displays under the search box (towards the bottom of the screen) after you conduct a search.
Web of Science: Search History link is towards the top, right of the screen.
Do regular quotation marks vs. smart quotation marks make a difference?
Campbell Collaboration: don't use smart quotation marks
Ebsco group of databases: makes no difference.
ProQuest group of databases: cannot mix regular and smart in the same search statement.
Web of Science: makes no difference.
Using NOT in Web of Science
Choose the Advanced Search mode.  Use NOT with set numbers. 
Use NOT with words by using the field tags listed to the right.
Ebsco - Selected Databases Without a Peer-Reviewed Limit
(If you limit to peer-reviewed, you eliminate these from your results. Instead, consider limiting to Academic journals.)
Global Health Archive
Ebsco - Selected Databases that have a Peer-Reviewed Limit
Academic Search Complete,     America: History & Life,     Anthropology Plus,     APA PsycInfo,     Applied Science & Technology Full Text,     ATLA Religion Database,     Business Source Complete,     CINAHL Plus,     EconLit with Full Text,     Education Full Text,     Family & Society Studies Worldwide,     Gender Studies Database,     Global Health (but not Archive),     GreenFILE,     LGBT Life with Full Text,     Medline,     Military & Government Collection,     PsycARTICLES,     Regional Business News,     SocINDEX with Full Text
Databases with a page size limit
Ebsco: Academic Search Complete; Business Source Complete; Cinahl Plus; Gender Studies; GreenFile; Military & Government; SocIndex with Full Text (can set up a page limit range).  Applied Science & Technology (can't do a range, must specify the number of pages).
Is there a geography limit?
APA PsycInfo: has a population location limit.  “A standardized description of continents, regions, and country names related to the content of the document.” You can limit to the United States: PL=US
Ovid Medline: relates to journal/publisher location, author affiliation, or grant organization location.
Scopus: the country/territory limit is based on author affiliation.
Web of Science: the countries/regions is based on author affiliation.
Search Size Limits
Ebsco: maximum of 5,000 keywords. (per Ebsco help)
Web of Science - size not investigated. However, "You can use up to 49 Boolean operators in a single search query. You cannot use more than 49 operators in a query in a single field or between fields on the Search page."
Stop Words
ProQuest: "There are no stop words within the ProQuest platform. However, the natural language processing used by the search engine will naturally filter out certain “overabundant” words as being irrelevant."
Ebsco: "Stop words are always ignored, even if they are enclosed in quotation marks...they are counted as words for proximity...The search engine ignores stop words..finding any single word in its place."
Exporting in ProQuest Databases (November 2021 information)

A researcher that has accessed ProQuest, but is not signed into a My Research account is considered an anonymous user. The following limits apply when downloading from ProQuest as an anonymous user:
Limited to exporting 500 citation (abstract/indexing) records per session.
Limited to exporting 100 full text documents per session.

A researcher that has signed into a My Research account is considered an identified user. The following limits apply when downloading from ProQuest as an identified user:
Full Text and citation (abstract/indexing) records limited to 20,000 per session.
Limited to 1,000 documents (both Full Text and citation/abstract) in any single action.
Attempts to exceed the limit will result in the user being prompted to save the documents to their My Research account.

Once you log in with your My Research account, you can export 500 full-text documents within one session in a single request "on demand" within the session. For example: if you run a search and receive  20,000 results, you can export those 20,000 results, but only 500 at a time.

It is two exports a day or up to 20,000 records whichever is hit first. For example, if you export 2,000 records twice, then you hit the limit even though you have not hit the 20,000 per day limit.
Ebsco Share all citations via email link: choose XML for Excel spreadsheets
Excluding Medline Citations from Search Results
Scopus: attach AND NOT INDEX(medline) to the end of your search query

Brown School Faculty/Staff Articles

You may be able to search for an author and an affiliation in a database.  However, realize that this is usually imprecise.  In some databases, the first few authors may be searchable, but the remaining authors may not be searchable.  In some databases, the first author may have a searchable affiliation, but the other authors may not have a searchable affiliation. 
Consider some of the following for the affiliation field:
the research center's name, the institute's name, the initiative's name; an abbreviation of the research center's, institute's, or initiative's name; "Brown School" OR "Brown Sch" OR "Brown Schl"  -- Also consider searching the affiliation field for the university name: "Washington University" OR "Washington Univ" OR "Washington Univ." OR "Wash Univ" OR "Wash Univ." OR "Wash U" OR "WUSTL"   -- Also consider searching the affiliation field for the city: "St. Louis" OR "Saint Louis"

Finding Articles - Selected Databases by Category

Most social work topics show up in many of the databases.  The following databases focus on a particular aspect.  You can find a list of the general social science databases after the list of specialty databases.
Africa Portal Library
African Journal Archive
African Journals Online AJOL
Index Islamicus
World Health Organization African Index Medicus
Accounting, Tax & Banking
Annual Reviews
Business Journals
Business Source Complete
Consumer Reports
Data Axle Reference Solutions (replaces AtoZdatabases, replaces ReferenceUSA)
EconLit with Full Text
The Economist (create an account to use)
Economist Historical Archive (1843-2020)
Financial Times (current) Create an account to use
Financial Times Historical archive 1888-2021
GlobalData Explorer
GuideStar (has 990 forms)
Regional Business News
Wall Street Journal
(The Business Library has many additional databases)
Child Welfare Information Gateway (search its library option)
Annual Reviews
Campbell Collaboration
Criminal Justice Database
Criminology Collection
NCJRS Abstracts (National Criminal Justice Reference Service Abstracts) [search its library option]
Campbell Collaboration
Education Collection
Education Database
Education Full Text
ERIC (Education Resources Information Center)
Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Education
Times Educational Supplement Historical Archive, 1910-2000
Applied Science and Technology Full Text
Development of Environmental Health Policy
Environmental History: Colonial Policy and Global Development, 1896–1993
Environmental History: Conservation and Public Policy in America, 1870–1980
Lyell Collection (e-book package)
National Centers for Environmental Information
National Technical Reports Library (NTIS/NTRL)
Oxford Bibliographies Online: Ecology
Oxford Research Encyclopedias: Environmental Science
Campbell Collaboration
Cochrane Library
EBP Resource Center (SAMHSA)
ECRI Guidelines Trust
National Guideline Clearinghouse
PubMed's Clinical Queries search
SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices (now called EBP Resource Center)
Trip Database
Gender Studies
LGBT Thought and Culture
LGBTQ History and Culture Since 1940
LGBTQ+ Source
Women's Social Movements 1600-2000
Women's Suffrage Collection
Annual Reviews
Books@Ovid (e-books)
CDC Stacks by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Cochrane Library
Ditki Medical & Biological Sciences
ECRI Guidelines Trust
Global Health and Global Health Archive
HAPI Health and Psychosocial Instruments
JoVE Unlimited (video)
LILACS (Latin-American and Caribbean Center on Health Sciences Information)
National Guideline Clearinghouse
Oxford Bibliographies Online: Public Health
Quarantine and Disease Control in America: Parts I & II (1736-1928)
SPORTDiscus with Full Text
Trip Database
Immigration to the United States, 1789-1930
Immigrations, Migrations, and Refugees: Global Perspectives, 1941 - 1996
American Indian Index
Arizona and Southwestern Index
Ethnic NewsWatch
Gale's Archive Unbound (American Indian Correspondence, American Indian Movement, Indian Trade in the Southeastern, Meriam Report on Indian Administration, War Department and Indian Affairs)
Indigenous Newspapers in North America
Indigenous Peoples: North America
Clase and Periodica
Handbook of Latin American Studies
HAPI Hispanic American Periodical Index
Hispanic American Newspapers, 1808-1980
Latin American Newsstand
LILACS (Latin-American and Caribbean Center on Health Sciences Information)
Oxford Bibliographies Online: Latin American Studies
Oxford Bibliographies Online: Latino Studies
Oxford Research Encyclopedias: Latin American History
U.S. Hispanic Newsstream
Web of Science SciELO Citation Index (Scientific Electronic Library Online Citation Index)
Alcohol Studies Database
Annual Reviews
APA PsycInfo
EBP Resource Center (SAMHSA)
HAPI Health and Psychosocial Instruments
Mental measurements yearbook with Tests in print
Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Psychology
Psychiatry Online
PTSDpubs (formerly PILOTS [Published International Literature on Traumatic Stress])
SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices (now called EBP Resource Center)
Many news articles are text only.  You may not see charts, graphs, images, or photographs.  Most databases don't include website articles (just the articles published in the printed version).
     01/01/1997 to Present in Single Journals    
     1843 to 2020 in Economist Historical Archive
Financial Times (current) Create an account to use.
Financial Times Historical archive 1888-2021
New York Times 
     The WUSTL community has access to the current website through a campus subscription.  We don't have access to some features such as games, cooking, athletics, and other content that is hosted through a premium subscription.  For more information:
     09/14/1857 to 12/31/2020 in ProQuest Historical Newspapers
     06/01/1980 to Present in Factiva and also Nexis Uni (text only, no images)
     1857-2023 microfilm in Olin Library (missing some issues)
     current paper issues in Kopolow Business Library, Kranzberg Art & Arch Library, Law Library
New York times (International ed.)
     08/01/1992 to 06/01/2017 in International Newsstream
     10/13/2017 to Present in International Newsstream
New York Times (Online)
     01/29/2012 to Present in Factiva (text only)
New York times book review
     01/03/1988 to Present in Arts Premium Collection
     current paper issues in Olin Library
St. Louis Post Dispatch:03/11/1879 to 12/31/2003 in ProQuest Historical Newspapers
     1981 to Present in Factiva and also Nexis Uni (text of articles, but not images of the pages)
     current daily paper issues in Olin library
Times Educational Supplement Historical Archive, 1910-2000
Wall Street Journal:
Washington Post:
     1887-2007 ProQuest historical newspapers
     02/07/1899 to 12/25/1900 in Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers
     1972-2024 Olin Library Level B Micro Per
     01/01/1977 to Present in Factiva
     02/13/2003 to Present in Regional Business News
     10/25/2003 to Present in PressReader
Brown School Library's links to selected newspapers:
Olin Library's links to other newspapers:
America: History & Life
Annual Reviews
C-SPAN Video Library
Case Studies in Public Policy & Management
Catalog of U.S. Government Publications
CIAO (Columbia International Affairs Online)
Congressional Digest
Congressional Research Service Reports
CQ Almanac
CQ Researcher
CQ Weekly
Hein Online
Index to Legal Periodicals
National Journal Services
Nexis Uni
PAIS Index
Policy Archive
Policy File Index
Political Science Database
Politics Collection
ProQuest Congressional
ProQuest Legislative Insight
Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
Encyclopedia of Social Work
Oxford Bibliographies Online: Social Work
Social Services Abstracts
Atla Religion
Index Islamicus
Academic Search Complete
American Antiquarian (AAS) Historical Periodicals Collection
Anatomy of Protest in America: Parts I & II (1701-1928)
Annual Reviews
ASSIA Applied Social Sciences Index and Abstracts
Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers (
Communication Source
Consumer Reports
eHRAF World Cultures (Human Relations Area Files)
Ethnic NewsWatch
Exploring Race in Society
Family & Society Studies Worldwide
Independent Voices
International Bibliography of the Social Sciences IBSS
Nexis Uni
Oxford Bibliographies Online: Communication
Oxford Bibliographies Online: Urban Studies
Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Communication
Policy File Index
ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global
ProQuest Historical Newspapers
ProQuest Social Sciences Premium Collection
SAGE Research Methods Online
Social Science Database
Social Science Premium Collection
Social Science Research Network (SSRN)
Social Services Abstracts
SocIndex with Full Text
Sociological Abstracts
Sociology Collection
Sociology Database
Visual History Archive
Web of Science Core Collection