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Social Welfare Policy: Field of Aging

Policy Related Reference Sources to look for Overviews

It can be essential to locate and read overviews of policy on your topic in order to understand how laws, regulations, court cases, and common practices may have influenced policies about your topic.   Here are some starting points to use, in addition to Google, in order to get a general overview about your policy topic.  Wikipedia can also be a very helpful starting place for understanding policy topics, although it is important to cite more reliable sources for your final paper.

CQ Researcher

Resources on American government, current affairs, history, politics, public policy, and data analysis for the social sciences.  Youtube video about concerns with Whiteness and CQ Researcher (part of CQ Press Library)
Vendor: Sage

Encyclopedia of Social Work

Co-published by the National Association of Social Workers and Oxford University Press.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is an independent, nonpartisan agency that works for Congress. Often called the "congressional watchdog," GAO investigates how the federal government spends taxpayer dollars. The head of GAO, the Comptroller General of the United States, is appointed to a 15-year term by the President from a slate of candidates Congress proposes.

Full-text source for information on current issues, studies, thoughts and trends of the legal world with coverage back to 1908. Search through Ebsco.

Indexing for more than 1200 major law reviews, legal newspapers, Bar Association journals, and international law journals. Search through Gale.

Opposing ViewPoints


Books and Book Chapters, including E-Books

Books and book chapters can be especially helpful to obtain a big picture overview if you are new to a topic, and to include a historical perspective.   Many books you will find in OneSearch are in print in the Silberman Library's lower level and others are available electronically.  Use OneSearch on the Hunter Library homepage to find books in libraries on campus, as shown:

screen shot shows under Resource Type heading books is circled


Things to Consider When Researching Policy Topics

—Keep these questions in mind as you begin reading overviews.  If you begin to figure out the answers to these questions during preliminary research and reading, the answers may allow you to locate additional research much more easily.—

Have governmental policies on your topic been proposed or created, or are you proposing something entirely new?

If you are proposing something new, can you locate any pilot studies similar to what you want to propose?

If something was proposed or created before, is the activity related to your policy topic legislative (laws or bills), executive (regulations), or judicial (court decisions)?

* Legislation, including laws and bills, come from the legislative branch of government, which is Congress (House of Representatives and Senate for federal, Assembly and Senate for New York State).

* Regulations come from the executive branch of government, which includes government agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration.

* The judicial branch of government decides cases.

Definitions of Administrative Law and Regulations:

* Administrative Law- regulations and rules established by agencies formed by federal or state legislatures. The legislative statutes establishing these agencies give them their authority. from: administrative law. (1998). In Mosby's Emergency Dictionary. Retrieved October 19, 2007, from

* Regulation- An agency is often delegated the power to issue regulations by the legislation that created it. Regulations must be made in accordance with prescribed procedures, such as those set out in the federal or a state Administrative Procedure Act. Federal regulations are first published in the Federal Register and later codified in the Code of Federal Regulations. from: regulation. (1996). In Merriam-Webster's Dictionary of Law. Retrieved October 19, 2007, from

Do you know if a law was passed or if a bill was introduced on your topic?

If so, was it at local, state, or federal level?

When did the law pass or when was the bill introduced?  Was it passed as part of another law or did it amend another law?  Has it been overturned?  Is it reauthorized periodically?

Have you found an exact title of a bill or law, a public law (PL) number or a bill number?  These may be helpful for locating the text of a law or bill, and in understanding what you are reading.