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Social Work Databases- Journal Articles & Reference

What is a Database?

A database is an electronic container of information that is organized and searchable. 

Databases contain article citations, full-text articles, books, newspapers, magazines, images, music, film & video, statistics & demographics, government documents, and much more.

There are over 300 databases available through the Hunter College Libraries. 

Some databases are purchased by the library through a subscription for the use of Hunter students, faculty and staff.  You need your Hunter NetID to access subscription library databases when you are off campus.  PsycINFO and Social Services Abstracts are subscription databases.

Other databases are publicly available, they are freely available online to everyone.  American FactFinder and Google Scholar are publicly available databases.

Tips for Database Searching

Plan Your Time:

  • Research is an iterative process, not a one-time task 
  • Plan time to research topics as part of your study, reading & writing routine

Identify Search Terms: 

  • Start with the obvious, like the terminology used in your text-books
  • But be flexible in your approach, experiment with the concepts associated with your topic as search terms  
  • Look for a "Suggest Subject Terms", "Thesaurus" or "Index" tool - this will help you find strong search terms  
  • Enter only one keyword or search phrase per search box
    • Example: 
      • Enter only the keywords: "depression" in the first box and "college students" in the second search box
      • Do not use a phrase or sentence: "college students with depression" or "what are the causes of depression among college students?"

When you find an article that looks promising:

  • Click on the title to get more information about the article
  • Look for sections called Keywords and/or Subjects
  • These terms will be linked to other articles like the one you are looking at
  • Use the keywords and subjects as search terms/phrases

Use Phrase Searching Effectively:

  • If you are searching more than one word, surround them in quotation marks: "case management"
  • Quotations tell the database to search the for the phrase, not the individual words
  • Truncation = * at the end of a search term.  Example:  therap* tells the database to search for words that begin with therap and end with any variation - therapy, therapies, and therapist
  • Wildcard = * in the place of one letter withing a word.  Example: wom*n tells the database to search for woman, women and womyn

Be Mindful of the Boolean Operators - AND, OR and NOT: 

  • Databases have advance search options which essentially teach you how to create search strings
  • When combining search terms/phrases, you have the option of joining them with: AND, OR and NOT
  • Adding a new search term/phrase with AND will reduce your search results
  • Adding a new search term/phrase with OR will increase your search results
  • Adding a new search term/phrase with NOT will eliminate items containing that term from the search results

Look for the Tools

  • Tools to manipulate the search results are generally located around the edges of the search results list
  • This includes tools to sort the search results by relevance or date of publication, to narrow the search results by date range, geography, gender, age and to limit the search results by type of item or scholalry status (peer review)

Access your Article: 

  • Click on the PDF Full Text, HTML Full Text or FindIt option in the search results
  • Look for the tools to save, e-mail, print, export and cite the article 
  • While Hunter has access to 100,000 electronic journals, there are journals to which we do not have subscriptions
  • When you find a citation for an article you need for which we do not have a subscription, you can order it through InterLibrary Loan.

Use More Than One Database: 

  • Different databases cover different journals
  • Therefore, searching different databases for the same topic may yield a range of results

Forward Citation: finding our where an article has been cited since its publication