Resource Type Research

Research resources and skills

There are times when you will want to check the latest evidence, research and practice examples to enrich your knowledge and help your decision making.

From here you can access:

  • Social Services Knowledge Scotland (SSKS) a digital library for anyone working within social care in Scotland. Use the Library Search to find books, journals and articles available to support practice and learning along with links to bibliographic databases to support research.
  • Evidence informed practice offers additional sources of research evidence to support well-informed, professional decisions. Sources include evidence briefings and evidence summaries, case studies and centres of excellence.
  • Skills to find, use and share knowledge offers practical guidance on how to search online more effectively. Access to guides, training materials and library services to enable you to find and use the information you need quickly and effectively.

Social Services Knowledge Scotland

SSKS Library

Do you want to find a book, journal or article?

The Knowledge Network logo

Use the SSKS Library to discover books, journals and articles in health and social care. An NHSScotland OpenAthens username and password is required to access these resources. This is freely available to anyone working in social care in Scotland


Access help and training on using SSKS Library

Do you need to conduct research?

Bibliographic databases are collections of published literature. They generally provide abstracts of journal articles but can also include information about books, reports and conference proceedings. The databases most used in social services are listed below. An NHSScotland OpenAthens username and password is required to access these resources. If you are prompted to select an "institution", please select NHS Scotland.

Do you need to keep up-to-date and save resources?

With conflicting demands and time-constraints, keeping up to date can often be difficult. However, it is also a vital component of your continuing professional development and can make significant improvements to your practice. Many practitioners benefit from receiving current awareness bulletins and alerts to their email inbox or from using social media tools to build your personal network and share knowledge. SSKS Library provides tools to help you keep up to date.

Can’t find what you are looking for?

IRISS Evidence Search and Summary service

A free service led by information specialists, anyone working in social services can get support with research and evidence searches to support their practice and continuous learning. 

Alternatively you can use the expertise of NHS professional librarians. Join your local NHSScotland library or the Health Management library. Contact a Librarian to find out more.

Evidence informed practice

Evidence summaries provide readers with summarised research findings from published evidence and experience for easier application to practice. Sources include evidence briefings, case studies and centres of excellence. You will also find more general key sources of information at the end of this list.

Evidence briefings

  • Iriss Insights - Evidence summaries to support the social services in Scotland, outlining evidence and potential implications for the social services. Insights are reviewed by people with research, policy and practice expertise to ensure they are robust and meet the needs of social service stakeholders in Scotland.

  • ESSS Outlines (Evidence Search and Summary Services) - Summaries of evidence produced by the ESSS using flexible and thorough approaches to identify and evaluate a wide range of evidence to ensure robust outputs that meet the needs of social service stakeholders in Scotland.

  • Campbell Collaboration - The Campbell Collaboration is an international research network that produces evidence syntheses such as systematic reviews on social interventions to support decisions on policy and practice.

  • SCIE - Social Care Institute for Evidence - Co-producing, sharing and supporting the use of the best available knowledge and evidence about what works in practice across social care including health, housing and support to children and adults.

  • Centre for Research on Families and Relationships - Produce, support, stimulate and share high quality social research on families and relationships across the lifecourse. Includes research briefings on topics including relationships, families, childhood, environment, lifestyle, consumption, health and caring, child protection, gender-based violence.

  • Research Collections from CCPS - Coalition of Care and Support Providers - Publications and blog posts aiming to support and supplement the aims of the CCPS.

Case studies

  • Iriss Case Studies - A series of case studies to showcase practice in Scotland.
  • Scottish Health Council - Supporting healthcare providers to engage meaningfully with people and communities in the design and delivery of services. Includes Evolving Practice, a database of case studies containing real-life examples of how local services have been improved by involving patients, carers, service users and communities. 
  • Resource Library from Alliance Scotland - Working towards a Scotland where people of all ages who are disabled or living with long term conditions, and unpaid carers, have a strong voice and enjoy their right to live well, as equal and active citizens, free from discrimination, with support and services that put them at the centre.

Centres of excellence

  • Iriss - Promotes positive outcomes for the people who use Scotland's social services by enhancing the capacity and capability of the workforce.
  • Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland - Evidence-based consultancy, policy, research and qualifications aimed at making positive and lasting improvements in the wellbeing of children and young people living in and on the edges of care and their families.
  • The Dementia Centre - International centre of knowledge and expertise dedicated to improving the lived of people with dementia through drawing on research and practice to provide a comprehensive, up-to-date resource. 
  • Scottish Commission for Learning Disability - Lead strategic partner to the Scottish Government in the delivery of learning disability strategy and policy, committed to finding new and better ways to improve the lives of people with learning disabilities. 
  • Centre for Youth and Criminal Justice - Supporting improvements in youth justice, contributing to better lives for individuals, families and communities. Internationally renowned and respected practice, policy and research. 
  • Scottish Centre for Crime and Justice Research - Produces research that informs policy and practice and advances our understanding of justice. Includes monthly bulletins and publications to keep the SCCJR community up to date. 

Key evidence sources

  • ScOPT - The Scottish Organisation for Practice Teaching - a membership organisation for social work practice teachers and others involved in social work education in Scotland.
  • Iriss FM - Scotland's social services podcast presenting research, projects and events on current topics of interest to the sector.
  • Databases for social services - Bibliographic databases are collections of published literature. They generally provide abstracts of journal articles but can also include information about books, reports and conference proceedings. 

Skills to find, use and share knowledge

Search skills

Do you need help with searching for information that you need online?

With so much information available online it is easy to feel overwhelmed.  Where do you start?  Can you trust the information you have found? 

Here are some guides to help:

Search tips

This guide helps you to plan a search and use databases.

Finding evidence to inform your social care practice

This guide helps you:

  • improve your online search skills
  • use familiar systems like Google effectively, through to more advanced techniques such as searching databases 
  • efficiently share your findings with your colleagues

Google guidance

This guide focuses on using Google effectively, including:

  • General search tips
  • Making sure results are accurate and up to date
  • Advanced search for better results
  • Using Google Scholar to find full-text articles

Make your learning count

Find out about topics such as:

  • An introduction to Social Services Knowledge Scotland (SSKS)
  • Using Social Services Knowledge Scotland (SSKS) to support your practice
  • Finding evidence to inform your practice

And gain an Open Badge!  These are digital certificates which recognise formal and informal learning and can count towards your professional registration and training. Find more Open Badges here.

To help you use knowledge in practice try

  • IRISS Toolkits which provides information, resources, and advice to support areas like improvement, engagement and co-production.
  • A short video on using Twitter to develop you networks and share knowledge

Use your local NHS library

Social Services staff can use their local NHS library.   All the libraries offer a quiet study space and equipment and library staff are on hand to offer help to find the items you need.  They can also help with specific research by providing a list of journal articles, reports and other sources relevant to your topic area. 

Help and Training

SSKS Help and Training provides information on how to use the SSKS Library itself. From there you can also request online or face-to-face training for your team.


Starting your improvement journey

An introduction to improvement theory and how to achieve positive change

National policy and legislation

An overview of the latest national policy developments affecting social care and social work services, as well as relevant legislation and the Health and Social Care Standards

Health and Social Care Standards

The Health and Social Care Standards set out what we should expect when using health, social care or social work services in Scotland

Latest Children and Young People Bulletin

A weekly bulletin produced by our policy team providing an update on the key developments concerning children and young people

Children and Young People Bulletin: 9 - 15 January 2020

Children and Young People Bulletin: 9 - 15 January 2020

Children and Young People Bulletin: 9 - 15 January 2020

Latest Adult and Health Bulletin

A weekly bulletin produced by our policy team providing an update on the key developments in adult social care and health

Adult and Health Bulletin: 9 - 15 January 2020

Adult and Health Bulletin: 9 - 15 January 2020

Adult and Health Bulletin: 9 - 15 January 2020