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Social Policy and Social Work: Websites

Subject support from Library Services for staff and students in Social Policy and Social Work

Evaluating web sources

Anyone can put information on the web, so how can you tell if it's reliable and accurate?

Ask yourself:

  • Who is the author?  Do they have qualifications/a reputation in the relevant area?
  • Is the web site affiliated with anorganisation?  If so, what is the mission of that organisation?
  • Has the information been properlyreferenced?  Are the references authoritative?
  • When was the site last updated?
  • Is there any reason for bias on this web site?
  • Has the website been well presented in an appropriately academic style?
  • Has anyone recommended this web site to you?
  • Does the information match what you have learned from other sources?

Using websites to find information in your field

Useful websites that are relevant to  Social Policy and Social Work include:

Information and advice to help and support older people.

British Crime Survey list of datasets

The British Crime Survey (BCS) is one of the largest social surveys conducted in Britain.The BCS is primarily a 'victimisation' survey, in which respondents are asked about the experiences of property crimes of the household and personal crimes which they themselves have experienced.

British Geriatrics Society
Association of health care professionals interested in elderly medical care - uses the expertise of its members to inform and influence the development of health care policy in the UK and to ensure the design, commissioning and delivery of age appropriate health services.It produces best practice guides, clinical guidelines and case studies among other publications.

Centre for Policy on Ageing
Independent charity promoting the interests of older people through research, policy analysis and the dissemination of information.  Publishes reports, briefings and reviews on age-related topics.

The Centre for Research on Families, Life Course and Generations
Interdisciplinary forum for researchers and research users interested in families, life course trajectories and transitions, and intergenerational relationships.

Community Care
A specialist website dedicated to all areas of the social care profession.

UK government services and information.

Health and Care Professions Council
The General Social Care Council (GSCC) is the regulator of social workers and social work education in England.

International Association of Gerontology & Geriatrics
Promotes the highest levels of achievement in gerontological research and training worldwide,  interacts with other international, inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations in the promotion of gerontological interests globally.

Joseph Rowntree Foundation
A charity working towards change for people and places in poverty and an ageing society aiming for a more equal society; produce publications and reports.

National Institute for Social Work

Office for National Statistics: Crime and Justice

Figures on crime levels and trends for England and Wales based primarily on two sets of statistics: the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW) and police recorded crime data.

Social Care Institute for Excellence
The Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) was established by Government in 2001 to improve social care services for adults and children in the United Kingdom.

Social Care Online
Database of information and research on all aspects of social care and social work, hosted by SCIE.

Social Welfare at the British Library
Access the British Library's vast digital and print holdings on Social Welfare Policy.

UK Data Service
A unified point of access to data from ESDS, Census Programme, Secure Data Service, and others.


Finding information on the internet

There is a huge range of information on the Internet, but you need to be vigilant about the quality of what you find. Using subject gateways and sites which are created by subject specialists will ensure that you find information that has been evaluated for its academic quality.

Wikipedia - good or bad?

Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia, written collaboratively by anyone who wishes to contribute. Many people are constantly editing Wikipedia, making thousands of changes per hour. For more information, see About Wikipedia.

Anyone with access to the internet can edit almost every page, and this is both the strength and the weakness of the site: 

  • Because there are so many people willing to freely give their time and expertise to Wikipedia, the content can be an excellent introduction to a topic, well-referenced, and mistakes are often corrected quickly. 
  • However, because edits can be made anonymously, we cannot know whether the author is an expert on the subject or whether they have a particular agenda to push.

Wikipedia is not considered to be a suitably authoritative source of information for academic study.

It is not a good idea to reference Wikipedia in your assignments. If you choose to use Wikipedia as a starting point for your topic, however, the article will introduce you to the key vocabulary for the topic which will be useful for further searching in and bibliographic databases.

For guidance on how to evaluate the quality of Wikipedia articles, see Evaluating Wikipedia article quality.