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Social Work

Journal Articles


To look for articles in journals, newspapers, or magazines, you will need to start with a research database. The following databases provide abstracts of articles from thousands of sources, often providing full-text.

Looking for scholarly articles?


Social Work Databases

Database Full Text Coverage Scholarly
Social Work Abstracts

This database provides access to social work and human services journals from 1965 to the present. Topics include addictions, therapy, child and family welfare, civil and legal rights, mental health, education, and human services.

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Links to full-text via Get-It 1965 to current Most
Social Services Abstracts

Abstracts of current research focused on social work, human services, and related areas, including social welfare, social policy, and community development.

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Links to full-text via Get-It 1980 to current All
Sociological Abstracts

Provides access to the latest international findings in theoretical and applied sociology, social science, and political science.

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Links to full-text via Get-It 1963 to current All

Available via EbscoHost: A comprehensive international database of psychology, covering the academic, research, and practice literature in psychology from over 45 countries in more than 30 languages.

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Some full-text; plus links to full-text via Get-It 1887 to current All

A national database of education literature, including reports and journal articles.

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ALERT! Within ERIC search results: IF the "Link to ERIC full text" does not work, try the "Get It!" link.
Links to full-text via Get-It 1966 to current Some

An important index to political, economic, and social issues in current debate.

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Links to full-text via Get-It 1972 to current All
Google Scholar CSUSM

Link to citations and full-text from your CSUSM Library databases and beyond!

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Some full-text; plus links to full-text via Get-It current to current All
Database Full Text Coverage Scholarly
Web of Science

Contains citation Idexes for Science, Social Sciences, Arts & Humanities, and Book Citations from 2004 to present. Select "Web of Science Core Collection" to conduct cited reference search.

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Links to full-text via Get-It 1975 to current All
Campbell Collaboration

Systematic reviews on the effects of social interventions in the areas of education, crime and justice, social welfare and international development.

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Full-text 2004 to present
Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

The Cochrane Library is a collection of six databases that contain different types of high-quality, independent evidence to inform healthcare decision-making, and a seventh database that provides information about groups in The Cochrane Collaboration.

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Full-text current Most
CINAHL Complete

CINAHL, the Cumulative Index to Nursing & Allied Health Literature, provides indexing for articles from 5,400 journals in the fields of nursing and allied health. This database provides full text access to more than 1,300 journals dating back to 1937.

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Links to full-text via Get-It 1937 to current Most

Contains (EXCEPT for the latest five years) core scholarly journals in sociology, history, economics, political science, mathematics, African-American & Asian studies, literature, humanities, music, and biological, health & general sciences.

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Full-text 1838 to most recent five years Most

Search all of ProQuest's databases.

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Some full-text; plus links to full-text via Get-It 1971 to current Most

A collection of databases, including Academic Search Elite, PsychInfo, and others.

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Some full-text; plus links to full-text via Get-It 1985 to current Most

Quick Search Tips


Tips for the search!


1) Generating keywords

  • think of more than one way to discuss your topic and use a variety of terms/synonyms to search
    • ("academic achievement" OR "academic performance") AND (coping OR resilience)
  • look up your topic online to find more keywords (wikipedia is a great resource for this!)


2) Boolean Operators

  • AND - returns literature that includes both terms
  • OR - returns literature that includes either terms
  • NOT - excludes literature with the term


3) Truncation

  • putting an asterisk at the root of a term will return variations of word
  • tour*  =  tour, tours, tourist, tourism, toured


4) Parenthesis

  • use parentheses around synonyms for the same concept
  • (coping OR resilience) AND stress AND (program* OR treatment)


5) Controlled Vocab

  • The "subjects" attached to each result represent the controlled vocab for that database


6) Still not getting good results?



Books often provide a broader treatment of a topic or issue. A book on the issue you are studying can provide background and a base of knowledge. A research project always needs some sort of background or context before discussing the focused issue.


Books at Cal State San Marcos

Library Catalog  

Search our local collection of physical and online books.

Other Options

Circuit (1-3 day delivery)

Search the collections of other San Diego area libraries -- about 3,000,000 books. Find and request books directly online; pick them up at our Library in 1-3 days.

WorldCat (5-10 day delivery)

Search the collections of libraries world-wide -- about 52,000,000 books. Find a book in this database, and fill-out an Interlibrary Loan delivery request. Book will be delivered to Library for pickup.


Finding Books in the Library

  1. Search the catalog to find a book.
  2. Make sure the item you want is available.
  3. Write down the call number (e.g. HQ 342.29 2007).
  4. Find the location of the book.
  5. Proceed to the location of the book (e.g. REF, 4th Floor Stacks). Look for the call number labels at the end of each row of bookcases, near the top.

You can use the item in the library OR check it out at the 3rd floor Check Out Desk with your student ID.


Subject Headings

  • Subject headings are words and phrases specifically created to tell you what a book is about.
  • They are the controlled vocabulary of the catalog.

One way to search by subject headings is to begin with a keyword search in the library catalog.

  • Locate a relevant item and click details to view the record.
  • Click one of the links under "Subjects" to view a list of other items that have been assigned the same subject heading. 


Video: Using subject headings to find library materials




What's the difference between searching by keyword and searching by subject headings?

Keyword Searching
  • Searching by keyword will return all results that include your search terms anywhere in the item record.
  • It is a more broad, less focused search.



Subject Searching
  • Searching by subject will only return those results that have been tagged with that specific word or phrase as a subject heading.
  • It will result in a more focused search.




Library Databases for News

Use these databases to search across newspapers and news magazines. Click the "Get It" button to access the full text.

Academic Search Premier (EbscoHost) 
Our most popular database. Covers a wide array of subjects with full text for nearly 1,850 scholarly journals, including more than 1,250 peer-reviewed titles.
Ethnic NewsWatch
Full-text ethnic newspapers, searchable in English or Spanish.
An important index to political, economic, and social issues in current debate.
ProQuest Newspapers
Includes coverage of over 300 major U.S. and international newspapers, such as The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune.

Policy Resources


Finding Legislation

State Legislation & Ballot Propositions

California Legislative Information

Search by keywords or bill number to find state legislation about your topic. You can search the current or past sessions. Included in this database are the following:

  • Status and history
  • Votes
  • Analysis (this analysis is used by legislators to make voting decisions, so it would be considered a primary source)
  • Bill text

2016-08-31_California Legislation

Federal Legislation includes legislative information from the U.S. Congress. Search by keywords or bill number to find federal legislation about your topic. You can search the current or past sessions. When you find a bill, click on "Bill Summary & Status" for the following:

  • Text of Legislation
  • Major Congressional Actions - this is where you will find the voting records, and passage/failure
  • Related Bills
  • Cosponsors Tutorial

Need help finding Federal legislation on the website? Watch this short video! 2014-03-14_11-09-17


Westlaw - This is a comprehensive database for news, business, and law-related information has been designed for students. It brings together news databases arranged geographically and topically; newswires as well as business, trade, and professional journals and publications; and law-related resources, including both primary law and analysis.


Finding Court Cases

The best source for CASES is Westlaw, found in the research databases page.

  1. You can search for a case by the name of the case from the main search screen.
  2. You can search by the citation from the main search screen (347 U.S. 475). 
  3. OR, you can browse cases. You can retrieve cases in several ways from the Browse section:
  • Click "Cases" from the main page to display the Cases page, which organizes cases under Federal Cases by Court, Federal Cases by Circuit, Cases by State, Cases by U.S. Territory, and Cases by Topic. 
  • From there, click the "Federal Materials" tab to retrieve U.S. Supreme Court cases or cases from federal courts in a specific circuit or state.
  • Or, click the State Materials tab to view a list of states. Click a state name to retrieve cases from state or federal courts in that stat.


Main page of Westlaw database with a red arrow pointed at the "cases" link.



Policy Resources on the Web

Public Policy Institute of California   The mission of PPIC is to inform and improve public policy in California through independent, objective, nonpartisan research.

California Research Bureau   The CRB provides nonpartisan research services to the Governor and his staff, to both houses of the Legislature, and to other elected State officials. 

Policy Archive   A freely available archive for public policy research including reports, charts, videos and white papers.

Congressional Reports via Congressional Research Service   The Congressional Research Service, a component of the Library of Congress, conducts research and analysis for Congress on a broad range of national policy issues.    An independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit Web site that offers pros and cons of controversial issues. The site aims to "promote critical thinking, education, and informed citizenship by presenting research on controversial issues in a straightforward, nonpartisan, and primarily pro-con format."

Policy Almanac    A digest of major U.S. public policy news.

Evidence-Based Practice Resources from the Social Work Policy Institute

Top 50 Think Tanks    This is a library guide from Penn State with a list of the current top 50 think tanks in the United States.

Quantitative vs. Qualitative Research



Quantitative research (empirical) articles will tackle research questions that can be measured numerically and described using statistics. An example of quantitative research would be a randomized controlled trial.



Contains statistical analysis

Large sample size

Objective-little room to argue with the numbers

Type of research: descriptive studies, exploratory studies, experimental studies, explanatory studies, predictive studies, clinical trials


Ways of finding quantitative studies

1) Search your keywords with quantitative or with the type of study you want to find. For example:

child welfare services AND quantitative

child welfare services AND experimental study


Image of the following search in the Social Work Abstracts database: child welfare services AND quantitative.



2) Check the advanced search limiters in the database you're using to see if there is a filter that is helpful. For example, PsycINFO has a Methodology filter under advanced search. 




Qualitative research articles will attempt to answer questions that cannot be strictly measured by numbers but rather by perceived meaning. Qualitative research will likely include interviews, case studies, ethnography, or focus groups.



includes interviews

Small sample size

Subjective-researchers are often interpreting meaning

Methods used: phenomenology, ethnography, grounded theory, historical method, case study


Ways of finding qualitative studies

1) Search your keywords with qualitative or the type of study you are looking for. For example:

child welfare services AND (“case study” or “grounded theory” or ethnography or “historical method” or phenomenology)

child welfare services AND qualitative 




2) Check the advanced search limiters in the database you're using to see if there is a filter that is helpful. For example, PsycINFO has a Methodology filter under advanced search. 





Mental Health
Cultures and Health

Thesis Submission

APA Citation Help


Citing sources is expected in scholarly communities and is almost always required in research papers. Scholars cite:

  • to give credit where credit is due;
  • so your reader (professor) can find the source that you mentioned in your assignment;
  • to add credibility to your research - shows you did the work;
  • and to avoid plagiarism!

Not sure where to start? Review this Flow Chart of the citation process before you continue!

APA Style

APA stands for the American Psychological Association. This is the preferred citation style of many of the social and behavioral sciences. Always remember to check your assignment guidelines or ask your professor which citation style they prefer for your work.

Official APA Style Manual Resources

  • APA Style Manual (BF76.7 P83 2010)  Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association: the most current APA style manual is available at the Kellogg library. Click on the above link to find a copy. 
  • The official APA website  Off campus or need APA guidelines right now? Access the official APA website for citation help by clicking the above link. This site has useful tutorials and up-to-date facts about citing in APA.  


Helpful Online Resources


Also Helpful: Citation Generators

  • Zotero  Zotero is a tool for storing citations and generating bibliographies using data collected from the library catalog or websites such as Amazon or Google. For more information on using Zotero, see our Zotero Guide. Always double check your results with citation generators, they are not always perfect!
  • KnightCite Citation Service   This citation generator formats your citations for you. This can be a convenient tool, especially if you have a lot of sources to cite, but it is NOT 100% accurate. ALWAYS check an additional resource like the APA Manual or Purdue OWL to make sure that the citation is formatted correctly!


Sample Papers in APA format


Grants & Funding


General Funding Resources

  • Pivot - *CSUSM only.* Pivot contains information on available grants, awards, fellowships, from federal/non-federal, corporate/private foundation, and international funding sources.
  • Federal Grants - Find and apply for federal grants at
  • Book: The Foundation Directory  Location: Library Reference (3rd Floor)  AS911.A2 F65
  • Book: Annual Register of Grant Support  Location: Library Reference (3rd Floor)  AS911.A2 A67
  • Foundation Center  Use this resource to find funders. Locate basic information by organization name, contact information and 990 IRS returns. Contains statistics on foundation and grant activity, search for RFP announcements for calls for grant applications. 
  • The Grantsmanship Center  Lists funding sources by state.
  • Guidestar  Use this website to find foundations and non-profit organizations that are interested in programs like yours. You will have to go separately afterwards to the organizations' websites to see what granting opportunities they offer. To find relevant foundations and organizations, click on "Take Action for Your Favorite Causes" and select the issue your program deals with.

Local Funding Resources



Health-Related Grants


Need Help?

Judy Opdahl

Instruction and Reference Librarian
Image of librarian Judy Opdahl
Office Location: 
KEL 5010
Office Hours: 
email for an appointment

I will be covering for the subjects of: Nursing, Kineseology, Speech Language Pathology, Public Health, Palliative Care for Trisha Lantzy when she goes on leave.