Start by finding out the basics about your topic and it's context within the field of social work and social policy.
Encyclopedias and reference books (e.g. handbooks, dictionaries, etc.) are a starting point to gather knowledge on a topic that is new to you. They can be a used to supplement your textbook readings and will help you understand how your topic fits into a broader context. Importantly, encyclopedia articles identify the major works on a topic and introduce terminology that you can use as search terms as you continue on with your research.
Top Pick! Encyclopedia of Social Work
Encyclopedia of Social Work
Call Number: Online
Key disciplinary encyclopedia for social work. Articles are through the "social work lens" for maximum relevance and usefulness.
Second Best Bet: Sage Knowledge
This is a database that searches across many encyclopedias and handbooks from Sage, a prolific publisher in the social sciences of many subject-specific reference books.
Call Number: Online
This database hosts a large number of reference works by Sage Publishers, a well-known scholarly publisher in the social sciences.
Sage Knowledge search tip: For better search results, run your search and then modify the "Refine by Type" facet (located on the right-hand side of the screen) by leaving on the boxes for Chapters and Entries checked.
Other Databases with Background Information
This is a report series that treats various "hot topics" with comprehensive reports written by journalists. Not all topics have current coverage, but for some topics there are excellent background reports.
This database covers a variety of social issues and contains articles from the popular Greenhaven Press series Opposing Viewpoints, At Issue, Current Controversies, and Contemporary Issues Companion Series, as well as statistics, biographies of social activists, court cases, profiles of special interest groups and more.
Oxford Bibliographies Online for Social Work
Annotated bibliographies of various social work topics that point to the key sources and provides some contextual information.
Additional Reference Books
The Handbook of Social Policy
Call Number: HN65 .H345 2009
The Handbook of Social Policy is an attempt to document the now substantial body of knowledge about government social policies that has been accumulated since the study of social policy first emerged as an organized field of academic endeavor about 50 years ago. The Second Edition offers a more streamlined format to make the book more consistent with the way most instructors teach their courses. This text is a comprehensive yet accessible introduction to a vast field of endeavor that has, over the years, made a significant difference to the lives and the well-being of the people of the United States.
Social work speaks : NASW policy statements
Call Number: HV85 .N33
Contains the the policy statements adopted by the NASW Delegate Assembly. Readers will find policy statements covering the full range of contemporary social issues—adolescent health, crime victim assistance, education of children and youths, electorial policies, hospice care, immigrants and refugees, and others.
Encyclopedia of U.S. political history
Call Number: E183 .E53 2010 Online
Includes a section on domestic policy and policy issues, tracing larger policy topics (e.g. welfare, education, immigration) from colonial times to the present.
Encyclopedia of Public Administration and Public Policy
Call Number: Reference JK9 .E526 2003
"This text provides A-Z entries on critical concepts, personalities, events and topics in public administration. It is aimed at students of political science, government and civics as well as a general audience desiring basic knowledge of public administration." [publisher description]
Encyclopedia of American Public Policy
Call Number: JK468.P64 J33 1999
"Public policy rules our lives, from federal environmental regulations and state testing of doctors to city dog licensing and municipal parking restrictions. Cutting through the complexities of this vast and often misunderstood subject, this unique reference work illuminates important concepts, terms, actors, legislation, and milestones of American public policy." [publisher description]
Oxford Handbook of U. S. Social Policy
Call Number: HN57 .O945 2015
Publication Date: 2014-12-04
**e-book edition on order (10-26-2015)
This Oxford Handbook pulls together much of our current knowledge about the origins, development, functions, and challenges of American social policy. After the Introduction, the first substantive part of the handbook offers an historical overview of U.S. social policy from the colonial era to the present. This is followed by a set of chapters on different theoretical perspectives available for understanding and explaining the development of U.S. social policy. The three following parts of the volume focus on concrete social programs for the elderly, the poor and near-poor, the disabled, and workers and families. Policy areas covered include health care, pensions, food assistance, housing, unemployment benefits, disability benefits, workers' compensation, family support, and programs for soldiers and veterans. The final part of the book focuses on some of the consequences of the U.S. welfare state for poverty, inequality, and citizenship.