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SOCW351 (Child Welfare): Find Internet Info

This guide includes print and electronic resources and instruction that will aid students in child welfare policy research. This guide was originally created by Michelle Spomer.

Evaluating Websites

There are several excellent resources on the Internet that will aid you in your studies. In the box below, you'll find some recommended websites. This is not an exhaustive list by any means - you may find several other relevant sites. However, be sure to evaluate what you find for not only relevancy, but also authority and quality. Take a look at the handout below for tips on evaluating websites.

Internet Research

You will have a much better chance of finding quality Internet resources if you narrow your searches to particular domains. Follow these instructions:

  • Go to the Google Advanced Search
  • Type one of the following three domains in the 'Search within a site or domain' box:  .edu  .org  .gov
  • Type your search terms in one or more of the boxes in the 'Find web pages with...' section (near the top of the page)
  • Click the 'Advanced Search' button
See the 'Evaluating Web Pages' handout above to get more information about finding high-quality and authoritative websites.

Using the California & Federal Databases

When researching particular legislation, starting with the actual text of the bill is key to understanding the context, focus, projected outcomes/programs, etc. The information below will help you locate California State or Federal legislation.

California Legislative Information

The key to using the California Legislative Information Bill Information database is the 'Session Year' option (see graphic below). You might have the title of the bill (which would be entered in the 'Keyword(s)' box), the bill number, or the bill author, but none of it will help unless you select the correct session year. If you know the session year, that's the best scenario, but you can also enter what you know and try it in different session years until you find the correct bill.


In addition to bills, the California Legislative Information website has a section for California Law where the state constitution and codes can be found.


State legislation often stems from legislation on the federal level. For federal bills, you'll search in the THOMAS database, which is maintained by the Library of Congress. Again, the session year is important to note. In THOMAS, the sessions are referred to as congresses, and these can be found in the advanced search (see graphic below). Unless you select a different congress, the search engine will look for your term(s) in the current congress. Searching in THOMAS is similar to searching the California database. Select a congress by clicking on one of the links above, enter the name of the bill or the bill number in the search box, and then click 'Search.'


Finding Policy News on the Internet

If you're trying to find the most current information on particular policies, you'll want to use the 'news' feature that most Internet search engines provide. This type of search will narrow the results to only those that show up in online news publications. Be sure to evaluate the news sources for any potential biases. Here are two examples of Internet news searches (for both searches, be sure to click on the 'News' link in the navigation bar):

Google News Search

google news search

Bing News Search

bing news search