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Social Welfare Policy: Search Tips

Suggested Search Terms

On this page you will find some sample search terms you can use to begin your research on Social Welfare Policy. You can use these terms to search in the Thesaurus or Index of a database to come up with even more terms. For a list of relevant databases, see the Social Work research page.

For a search on social welfare policy in the United States, you might use the following search:

First search box: social welfare policy

Second search box: United States


Here are other keywords you may find useful:

  • Children OR youth OR families
  • Criminal justice AND violence
  • Homelessness
  • Immigration
  • Mental health
  • Poverty Public health
  • Human rights
  • Public assistance
  • Women AND gender issues
  • Social security
  • Food stamps

Remember to use the connectors OR/AND, also called Boolean operators.  OR broadens your search; use it to combine synonyms or related terms. Use AND to combine your major concepts; it narrows the search. These are some examples of searches using connectors:

  • child welfare AND (policy OR politics OR legislation) AND united states
  • public welfare AND social policy AND united states
  • food stamps AND (policy OR history)
  • substance abuse AND (policy OR legislation) AND united states

Sometimes simply searching for the law will bring back results, e.g., "Older Americans Act."


When searching in databases, it is helpful to use the Thesaurus feature to identify the most appropriate search terms for a particular database. This tool is located at the top of the Advanced Search page and sometimes it is called Subject Headings or Subject Terms instead of Thesaurus. Almost all databases have some equivalent of this tool.

In EBSCO company databases, you will find this feature in the bar at the top of the page:


In ProQuest databases, you will find the Thesaurus option above the first search box on the Advanced Search page:

When you enter your keywords into the Thesaurus, it will give you a list of Suggested termsBroader termsNarrower termsRelated terms, and Used for terms. For example, a search for Mental illness brings back Mental disorders, and a search for Black brings back African Americans. Using the Thesaurus can really help you generate a good collection of search terms and it ensures you are optimizing your searches in that particular database.

For tips on constructing your strings of search terms, please see our page on Boolean Operators, located in the Keyword Searching guide.

Suggested Journals for Social Welfare Policy

The following journals focus on social welfare policy. For tips on how to find journals by title in our collections, please see the relevant page of the Journals guide. 

For more information on browsing journals by topic:

Sample Database Search

  1. On the Library homepage, go to the Subject Resources box.

  2. Click on Select a subject and choose Social Work.
  3. Scroll down until you see a section called Social work articles, journals & books.
  4. Click on Social work databases and then click on the link for SocINDEX with Full Text

    Note: If you have not already logged in to the Library databases, you will be prompted to log in with your myWalden Portal user name and password.
  5. Now you are on a search screen with three search boxes. Break your topic down into keywords and type one concept or keyword(s) per box.

    For example, top search box:

    child welfare
    Middle search box:


    Bottom search box:

    United States
  6. Under the search boxes, check the boxes for Full Text and Peer Reviewed.

  7. Click the Search button.


For more tips on choosing databases and building keyword searches, see these helpful guides: