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Social Work (HE): Articles & Journals

About Journals

Journals are collections of articles, news, updates and opinion on current issues, which are aimed at academic and students, and sometimes people working in the industry. They are published at regular intervals throughout the year which means they can include very up-to-date information, and they usually focus on a specific topic so are useful if you want more detail on your topic than provided by textbooks. We have some journals in print, but most are available online via our databases.  You should use journal articles rather than information from the Internet as they have been checked prior to publication and can be relied on to be accurate and authoritative.

Print Journal

The following print journal is available in the library. 

Professional Social Work is the UK's only printed social work magazine and is published 10 times a year. You can read the latest edition and back copies in the Library


Most Social Work journals are available online

For Online Journals, we recommend you use Discover (see the boxes below for more information).  Online titles for social work include: British Journal of Social Work; Child & Family Social Work; and Journal of social work practice. 

About Journals

Quick guide to finding journal articles

  • If you know the article title, go to the Advanced Search in Discover and choose the Title search
  • If you want to browse a particular journal, go to our A-Z journals list and type in the title of the journal
  • If you want to search across a number of journals for a topic, go to Discover and type in your keywords
  • If you want to run a very specific search, select the most relevant database in the right hand list. 

DISCOVER@BradfordCollege is our online search tool and is a quick and easy way to search the College Library’s resources, print and electronic, and find full text information.  It is a bit like using Google but the results are higher quality and more relevant to your course at Bradford College. If you are looking for information for an assignment DISCOVER is a great place to start.

For Social Work Practice articles and reports, click on the tab on Practitioner Materials.


a quick and easy way to search for the Library's resources

To find journal articles, you need to use a library database. Databases are like search engines, but instead of searching the Internet, they search the contents of journals, books, reports, newspapers or magazines. The library pays to provide access to special academic databases that will provide you with content which has been evaluated and checked to ensure that the materials you find are of high quality.  Once you get used to searching databases, you can save a lot of time because a lot of the work has been done for you!

Different databases provide access to different types of information.  Discover searches across most of our databases at the same time so is good for an initial search.  You can also search databases individually - this can be useful to refine your search.  We recommend the databases listed in the right hand column to find journal articles for Social Work.

If you are researching a particular topic, the best way to find journal articles or newspaper reports is to use a database such as Discover.  Think carefully about your topic and identify the keywords that best describe the information you need.  See the tab on Search Tips for more information on constructing a search strategy.

There are thousands of journal articles in the databases so you need to be specific - for example a search for "social work practice" will bring too many articles for you to properly look through. 

These 5 steps will help you to plan your search strategy when looking for information to support your assignment. 

Step 1: Identify the main ideas or concepts in your assignment. 

Does attending specialised eating disorder support groups reduce instances of anorexia or bulimia in men? 

Concepts:  "Support Groups" AND Anorexia AND Men

Step 2: Identify keywords. You can direct library databases to look for your keywords in the title, abstract, keywords and subject headings of an article, which means that your results are more relevant than if you were searching for your terms anywhere in the full text.  To get the best results, you need to find the best terms possible.  Spend a bit of time identifying synonyms or related terms that best describe the topic. Also think about what the question is asking - are there any key theories or problems that the question is alluding to?

The PICO method can be useful to help you think of appropriate terms to search:

P is for Patient or Population, eg men, males.  

I is for Intervention, eg. "support group"

C is if you want to compare with another approach, eg counselling.  This is optional as it can really widen your search. 

O is for Outcome, eg. reduction in eating disorders. 

Synonyms / Related Terms: Men could also be Males, and Support Group could also be Therapy group. You could also search here for services you are aware of, such as "Adult Eating Disorder Service". You could narrow down eating disorders to Anorexia, Bulimia etc. 

Step 3: Decide which database to use.  If you want to find academic journal articles, we recommend that you start by using Discover which searches across the majority of library databases.  If you wish to find specialist information such as systematic reviews, government papers, or practice notes, try one of the social work databases such as CC Inform, Childlink if the population group is children, or Social Care Online. 

Step 4: Use the Advanced Search function. This allows you to put a keyword or a string of keywords on each line and then combine your terms. You should be prepared to run your search a few times to get the best results. Use speech marks to search for a phrase, and use the asterix symbol to find words with a variety of endings (therap* will find Therapy or Therapist). 

Advanced Search: 

Men OR Males 

"Support Group" OR Counselling OR Therapy

"Eating Disorders OR anorexia OR bulimia

Step 5: Check your results.  If you have too many results, narrow by adding more search terms to focus your search, or restrict your results by date, publication type (journal, newspaper).  You should also look at the subject terms that are used to describe the best results, and re-run your search using those terms. 

Remember - you can save your search if you set up an account with the database, or keep a note of your terms.  You can also view your search history and combine different searches until you get the best results. 

If you want to browse a specific journal, eg. one that you have seen referred to in a textbook or by your lecturer, you should use the A-Z of Journal Titles. This will allow you to access the full text of over 20,000 journals in electronic format.  Some are electronic versions of journals that are held in print in the Library.   Some are journals that the Library does not have in our  print collection, but which are made available as part of a database collection - Emerald, Computer Source, SPORTDiscus, General OneFile and Lexis Library for example.

Type in the title of your journal and click on search.  You will see a list of matching titles.  Click on Full-text Access and click on the database name that is listed.  From here you should be able to browse different issues and search by keyword.


Before searching, think about:

  • The information that you already have.  Where are the gaps? Is the information you have at the right level and detail?
  • The type of information you are looking for.  Do you need newspaper articles, academic journals, industry reports, company information, statistics?  This will help you decide which database to search, or whether the information is available on the Internet. 
  • Theories or concepts that you may need to refer to.  Textbook usually are the best place to start as they introduce and explain topics with examples. If you want to find material which applies a theory to an issue, you will usually need to refer to journal articles. 

Be prepared to read around your subject.  You may not find an article which directly answers your assignment question, but instead you will need to synthesis information from a variety of sources. For example, you may find material on customer behaviour in a different setting to the one you are researching, but the argument and findings can be applied to your own topic.

Use the contents pages and indexes in textbooks to look up company names, theories or concepts. Don't just rely on your reading list - there is a lot of information out there!

Refer to the reading lists in books and journal articles, or use the related articles and cited by functions in Emerald and Google Scholar to widen your reading. 



How do you evaluate what articles are most appropriate for your research?  Use the CRAAP test to help you assess each article:


When was the article published? Does it matter for your topic?

Are there more recent articles you could use?


Does the information help in answering your question? 

Is it at the right level? Is it too basic or too advanced? 

Does it add to your understanding?


Does the author work for a particular organisation such as a University?

Is the author appropriately qualified to provide the information?

Has the information been peer-reviewed? If an article has been peer reviewed it will have been evaluated or edited by other experts in the same field.


Where does the information come from?

Is it supported by evidence?

Can you verify the information from another source?


What is the purpose or reason of the article?

Is the article objective? Does it give a balanced view? Is there hidden bias? Does the author use emotive language?

Has the author provided supporting evidence?

Does the article include references?




Databases for Journal Articles

Library Services
(01274) 08 8257
Bradford College, Great Horton Road, Bradford, BD7 1AY.
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