Social Work Literature Searching: Current Issues With Databases and Online Search Engines

Tony Mc Ginn, Brian Taylor, Mary McColgan, Janice Mc Quilkin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)
70 Downloads (Pure)


To compare the performance of a range of search facilities; and to illustrate the execution of a comprehensive literature search for qualitative evidence in social work.

Developments in literature search methods and comparisons of search facilities help facilitate access to the best available evidence for social workers.

The performance of 14 databases and web search engines was appraised, by applying a search formula for articles relating to perpetrators of intimate partner violence and the process of change.

Seventy-two out of seventy-eight relevant articles were found on just six of the search facilities used. Social Services Abstracts performed the best. Web search engines did not contribute any unique hits.

The need to use a range of databases was confirmed. Databases have performed inconsistently across case studies to date. New approaches to pilot-testing facilities and search terms proved useful. Accessing qualitative evidence to inform practice must become more straightforward.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)266-277
Number of pages11
JournalResearch on Social Work Practice
Issue number3
Early online date21 Sept 2014
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 May 2016


  • Databases
  • bibliographic
  • evidence-based practice
  • information storage and retrieval
  • review literature as topic
  • systematic literature searching
  • intimate partner violence
  • domestic violence.


Dive into the research topics of 'Social Work Literature Searching: Current Issues With Databases and Online Search Engines'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this