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Social Work Courses & Research

Library session 9/25

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Limit to types of articles, such as newspapers, scholarly journals, etc, on the left-hand side once you see the search results.

Social Work Databases

Where to Find the Credibility Information for Sources

How to find credibility information

Find the Wikipedia article

  • If an author or source is well-known enough, use the Wikipedia article to quickly check for background information and note any controversies.
  • The Wikipedia page of a scholarly journal is also a good quick place to check if it is peer-reviewed.

Look on the source itself for bio information

  • A journal, newspaper, magazine, book, or website likely has information on it somewhere about the author.
  • If there is no author on a website, the website assumes authorship; look for an "About" page but don't use that exclusively.

Search the author or publication online

  • Search the name of the author inside quotes, such as "Oliver Sacks."
    • Add site:edu for scholarly journal authors.
    • Add the word journalist or the name of the newspaper for journalists.
  • When there is no information about an author online, consider whether they may have died before online presence was established.

Evaluation: Three questions

What is it? Why do I care? What does it really say?

You answer these three questions every time you use a source, whether you know it or not.

  • Whether it is a website or a scholarly journal article...
  • Whether it is for a 1st-year course or real life...

Start noticing how you answer these questions to ensure your sources are really meeting your needs.


The Three Questions:

  • What is it: What is the source type and author credibility?
    • Quick Wikipedia checks are okay! You can also compare what other source say about that source.
  • Why do I care: Does the source type and author credibility meet your needs?
    • Decide this at the beginning so you know whether to read the material or find something better.
  • What does it really say: Perceive how the word choices influence the knowledge.
    • The author's word choices, included and excluded information, and the aim of the publication all make a difference in how or why you would use a source.

Google Domain Hack

Once you locate a professional organization or agency website that appears helpful, you may have a hard time navigating their search bar. Most of these websites do not include advanced search functions, so it's hard to navigate the internal rules.  Thankfully, there is a way to use Google to search your website for specific information. Using this domain search limiter tip will save you time.

For example, to search the National Association of Social Workers‚Äč website, add to your keyword search.

Google Advanced Searching

Google Scholar (Advanced)

Google Scholar appeals to lots of folks because it is a free web search engine that appeals to our love of a Google Search. Instead of the entire open web, however, Google Scholar indexes only the scholarly literature portion of Google. This can include peer-reviewed articles, conference papers, theses and dissertations, and more. 

  • Google Scholar results often lead you to a great abstract that you cannot access without payment. The number of times this happens can be limited if you link your Google Scholar account to your Vogel Library access. If even the Library Links can't get you the article you need, you can request it through Interlibrary Loan. Contact me anytime to help you do so!
  • Google Scholar results seem to prioritize older articles. This is because they sort their relevant results based on the popularity of both the publication in which the source appears and the author of the source. This can limit you from seeing new scholars or scholars who may be more marginalized in their fields. Remember, while peer review is considered a pretty effective system, it's still shaped by the culture in which it exists, and at this time, some voices hold more weight in academic circles than others.
  • Searching Google Scholar feels a lot like searching Google, which appeals to our everyday behavior of information searching.
  • The advanced search functionality and the "cited by" option provide options many paid databases do not provide.

Connect Vogel Library to Google Scholar searches

Citation Management with RefWorks

Vogel Library has a subscription to RefWorks, the citation management tool that helps you track and cite your resources correctly in your papers. These videos will help you get started using RefWorks. If you have questions, contact the library.

Professional policy statements

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