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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

We encourage Brown School students to search a database for articles.  Databases usually offer a limit for narrowing the results to academic journals.  Databases frequently offer more searching strategies.  You can save time and increase the relevancy of your results when you use the search strategies.  The Brown School Library offers library sessions on the search strategies.  Click here to see a list of library sessions with descriptions and dates. 

The Brown School Library compiled a list of frequently used databases for social work, public health, and social policy topics.  Consider these databases when you begin your search for articles.  The list of databases by topic:
We included descriptions of the databases in an A-Z list:

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

Finding Articles - Searching Tips

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.
ProQuest: * is up to 5 characters.  Therefore use [*20] for the maximum number of characters. Note: twenty is the maximum.  For example, random[*12]  will pull up randomization, but random* won't pull up randomization.
Web of Science: * is unlimited characters.  NOTE: You cannot use after special characters (/ @ #) and punctuation (. , : ; !). 
Can you truncate inside a phrase?
African Journal Archive - no
African Journals Online AJOL - no
Catalog - no
Cochrane Library - no (use NEXT operator instead) - no
Ebsco group of databases - yes  "suicid* tendenc*"
Embase - no (use NEXT/1 operator instead)
JSTOR - no
OpenGrey - no (use NEAR/1 instead)
ProQuest group of databases - yes if the phrase has two or more words  "suicid[*8] tendenc[*10]"
PubMed - yes for only the last word in the phrase (no other words in the phrase)  "suicidal tendenc*"
Scopus - yes  "suicid* tendenc*"
Web of Science - yes  "suicid* tendenc*"
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?
Catalog: salmon WITHIN 3 upstream
Cochrane Library: (salmon OR pike) NEAR/2 (upstream OR upriver) 
Cochrane Library (order matters, no option for intervening words): (salmon OR pike) NEXT (upstream OR upriver) (order matters) "salmon upstream"~2
Ebsco group of databases: (salmon OR pike) N2 (upstream OR upriver)
Ebsco group of databases (order matters): (salmon OR pike) W2 (upstream OR upriver)
Embase: salmon NEAR/2 (upstream OR upriver)
Embase (order matters): salmon NEXT/2 (upstream OR upriver)
OpenGrey: salmon* NEAR/1 pike*
ProQuest group of databases: (salmon OR pike) N/2 (upstream OR upriver) 
ProQuest group of databases (order matters): (salmon OR pike) PRE/2 (upstream OR upriver)
PubMed: no proximity operators available
Scopus: (salmon OR pike) W/2 (upstream OR upriver) 
Scopus (order matters): (salmon OR pike) PRE/2 (upstream OR upriver)
Web of Science: (salmon OR pike) NEAR/2 (upstream OR upriver) 
Web of Science (order matters): no proximity operator available
Where is the Search History?
Ebsco group of databases: Search History link is under the search box.
ProQuest group of databases: Recent Searches link is under the search box and
     also 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
To get to the Advanced mode, return to the main search page.  There will be a
down arrow next to the word "Basic" (left side above the search box).  Click the
down arrow and choose Advanced.  You can use NOT with set numbers. 
You can 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.)
Anthropology Plus,      Global Health,      Global Health Archive,
Medline,     PsycCritiques
Ebsco - Selected Databases that have a Peer-Reviewed Limit
Academic Search Complete,      America: History & Life,     
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,      GreenFILE,     
LGBT Life with Full Text,      Military & Government Collection,      PsycARTICLES,
PsycINFO,      Regional Business News,      SocINDEX with Full Text
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."

Brown School Faculty/Staff Articles

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.
African Journal Archive
African Journals Online AJOL
Index Islamicus
World Health Organization African Index Medicus
Accounting, Tax & Banking
Annual Reviews
AtoZdatabases (replaces ReferenceUSA)
Business Source Complete
EconLit with Full Text
Economist Historical Archive
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 (ProQuest)
Criminology Collection (ProQuest)
NCJRS Abstracts (National Criminal Justice Reference Service Abstracts) [search its library option]
Campbell Collaboration
Education Collection (ProQuest)
Education Database (ProQuest)
Education Full Text
ERIC (Education Resources Information Center)
Campbell Collaboration
Cochrane Library
EBP Resource Center (SAMHSA)
ECRI Guidelines Trust
National Guideline Clearinghouse
SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices
     (now called EBP Resource Center)
Gender Studies
LGBT Life with Full Text
LGBT Thought and Culture
LGBTQ History and Culture Since 1940
Women's Social Movements 1600-2000
Annual Reviews
Books@Ovid (e-books)
CDC Stacks by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Cochrane Library
ECRI Guidelines Trust
Global Health and Global Health Archive
HAPI Health and Psychosocial Instruments
Health and Wellness Resource Center
LILACS (Latin-American and Caribbean Center on Health Sciences Information)
National Guideline Clearinghouse
Oxford Scholarship Online: Public Health & Epidemiology (e-books)
Immigration to the United States, 1789-1930
Immigrations, Migrations, and Refugees: Global Perspectives, 1941 - 1996
Clase and Periodica
Handbook of Latin American Studies
HAPI Hispanic American Periodical Index
Latin American Newsstand
LILACS (Latin-American and Caribbean Center on Health Sciences Information)
Oxford Bibliographies Online: Latin American Studies
Web of Science SciELO Citation Index (Scientific Electronic Library Online Citation Index)
Alcohol Studies Database
Annual Reviews
EBP Resource Center
HAPI Health and Psychosocial Instruments
Mental measurements yearbook with Tests in print (e-book)
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)
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 Peoples: North America
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 via University of North Texas (
CQ Almanac
CQ Researcher
CQ Weekly
Hein Online
National Journal Services
Nexis Uni
PAIS Index
Policy Archive
Policy File Index (ProQuest)
Political Science Database (ProQuest)
Politics Collection (ProQuest)
ProQuest Congressional
ProQuest Legislative Insight
Worldwide Political Science Abstracts
Encyclopedia of Social Work
Oxford Bibliographies Online: Social Work
Atla Religion

Academic Search Complete
American Antiquarian (AAS) Historical Periodicals Collection
Annual Reviews
ASSIA Applied Social Sciences Index and Abstracts
eHRAF World Cultures (Human Relations Area Files)
Ethnic NewsWatch
Family & Society Studies Worldwide
Independent Voices
International Bibliography of the Social Sciences IBSS
Nexis Uni
Policy File Index (ProQuest)
ProQuest Dissertations and Theses Global
ProQuest Social Sciences Premium Collection
SAGE Research Methods Online
SAGE Research Methods – subscribed to additional modules through December 2022:  Cases, Datasets, Video, and Data Visualization
Social Science Database (ProQuest group)
Social Science Premium Collection (ProQuest different group of databases)
Social Science Research Network (SSRN)
SocIndex with Full Text
Sociological Abstracts
Sociology Collection (ProQuest group)
Sociology Database (ProQuest group)
Web of Science Core Collection