Pew Learning Center & Ellison Library

SWK 310 - Social Welfare Policy and Services

Fall 2012

Librarian: Heather Stewart Harvey, ext. 3062

Background of the problem: books, books, and more books!

  • Use our catalog to find books, videos, CDs, etc.  Be sure to look for Reference Materials like encyclopedias; these are good background sources.  See for example: 
The Encyclopedia of Social Welfare History in North        America (R 361.97 E56 2005)

Encyclopedia of Social Work (R 361.003 E56)

Social Issues in America (R 361.973 S678c 2006)

International Encyclopedia of Social Policy (R 361.61
    I61 2006)

                                                        Encyclopedia of AIDS (R 362.1969792003 E56 1998)

                                                        Encyclopedia of Domestic Violence (R 362.829203 E56)
  • Use WorldCat to find and request books from other libraries.  If you are overwhelmed by the amount of content in WorldCat, try looking up a book that has already been helpful to you.  Then search by some of the same subject terms.  Or look for the section of the record that says 'More Like This' and click the 'Advanced Options' link.  What you see there should help you find similar materials.  Also, if you are doing an older policy, used the Advanced Search function to search for titles published before and during the time when your policy was passed.                                                            

Selecting a Policy

There are many ways to go about this.  If you haven't already indentified a specific policy from your preliminary background reading, try one of the following:

CQ Researcher: this is a database that covers the most current and controversial issues of the day with summaries, full-text articles, pros and cons, bibliographies and more.  Typically these entries include specific mention of public policies.

Non-profit websites: almost any advocacy organization will have a section on their website dedicated to public policy issues.  You may need to look in their archives or history sections to find policy that has already passed.  See NC Policy Watch for a comprehensive list of organizations working on social policy.  Try internet searches like '"domestic violence" public policy' - a healthy handful of non-profit organizations will come up right away.  

  Locating the Policy

   Locating the primary text of specific pieces of public policy can be tricky.  First, you need to identify what level of government issued the policy.  Is it a city, state, or federal policy?  Was it a policy passed by the voters (see much of California's public policy) or generated by a government body?  Did it start as its own bill and get rolled into another bill?  Can you find the bill number - many bills have a catchy name, but in many cases it will be easier to locate the text if you can identify the bill by its number (ex: H.R. 1893 [106th Congress]).  As you can see, there are a lot of details to sleuth out.  Hint: in many cases, if you search Wikipedia with the "common" name, the entry will include the bill's actual number.

   For federal policy: beginning with the 103rd Congress (1993-1994), documents have been digitized and are searchable through GPO (Government Printing Office). Beginning with the 101st Congress bills are searchable through THOMAS.  This doesn't mean that it is impossible to locate the text of a policy passed prior to the 101st Congress; you may find it on the web through a non-profit, think tank, or other website.  We can also help you obtain a copy through Interlibrary Loan, but this will generally take 3-7 days.  

   For state policy: each state has undertaken digitization at different times.  Typically if you do an internet seach for 'your state + legislature' you will immediately find the web presence of a state legislature.  North Carolina's online legislative records can be found here.

   Please don't hesitate to request help for this part of the process (email me, call me, or stop by).  You can also CALL both state and federal offices of elected officials - if they were a sponsor of a bill, their staff will typically be able to direct you to a copy quite efficiently.  

  Find Articles

 Finding an article can involve three steps.

 1. Use Articles & Databases to find articles or citations. If the citation includes the full-text or image, you can get the article right away. If not, go to Step 2.

 2. Use Journal Finder to see if we have the journal you want. Note: this is the step to go to if you *already have a citation* in hand. If we do, get your article from the source. If not, go to Step 3.

 3. Use Interlibrary Loan to request the article from another library. Please allow time.

  Selected Full-Text Databases & Web Sites (sourcess for statistics here!)

 Interdisciplinary databases covering a variety of subjects:

 Social Science databases

 Statistical Sources:

  Suggestions for Citation Management:

   Zotero – this is an excellent citation management tool that functions through Firefox.  If you use more than one computer, you'll need to sign up for a free account.  This tool integrates into Word or OpenOffice documents also, with a plugin available here.

  Guide for citing Government Documents in APA Style :

   Citing Gov Docs - from the University of Nebraska



  • Painless Library Research includes additional information on documentation and plagiarism.                                                  
  • Personal assistance: send me email, call me at ext. 3062, or come see me.                                                                            
  • Tour the library.

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