Social Work - I. Introduction & Social Welfare Problem

This is a Social Work research guide. It offers a variety of information to help you with your research needs

I. Introduction and Social Welfare Problem/Time

Questions to address:

  1. What is your interviewee's problem?
  2. How many people experienced this issue leading up to the enactment of the law?
  3. What is your law/policy, specifically. that lead to the program/solution to your interviewee's problem?
  4. When this law/policy was first initiated, explain the situation of this population: how many, where, what was it like, who are they?
  5. What are scholars saying about your policy?

In other words:

  1. This is where you plead your interviewee's case show the importance of the topic. Why should I care? Get my attention.
  2. You need to identify the original law that jump-started your program- break it down.
  3. Give context to the situation, especially when the law/policy was first initiated. Some great places to find this information would be newspaper articles of the time that discuss this issue. Another option would be government reports and congress proceedings. What were our representatives talking about in relation to the program at the time it was initiated? Also, it's possible a book has been written on this issue and could provide overall insight and context.
  4. Look in the professional literature to see what social work scholars and policy makers are saying about your program.


  • ProQuest Congressional - find your original law, amendments, recent version, and congress proceedings and cases related to our law/problem
  • Google search for searching several government websites at once
    • (food stamps OR SNAP OR supplemental nutritional assistance program)
  • SocINDEX - One of the best databases for looking at social work and sociology-focused, scholarly work.
  • Academic Search Complete - Well-regarded scholarly database that is multi-discplinary.
  • America's Newspapers - find information from other 2,000 newspapers including by state. 
  • Alice Catalog - searching for books and government reports on your law/problem
    • ex. Search keywords in any field: Food stamps OR SNAP
  • CQ Researcher - basically this is a more legitimate version of Wikipedia and a good place to look for background information on topics/problems.
  • LexisNexis - especially good for news, legal sources, and business. Includes national and regional newspapers, wire services, broadcast transcripts, international news, and non-English language sources.
  • ArticlesPlus - first green tab on library's main page. Can search by topic and find books, newspapers, videos, articles, etc. on topic. You will get a lot of results, but you can narrow down to specific kinds of information. Does not search everything the library has, but a good place to start.