Social Services Knowledge Scotland
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:

  • Latest research on a topic within the Social Services Knowledge Scotland Library.
  • Iriss resources to support finding and using evidence to enrich and improve practice.  Also includes the Iriss Evidence Search and Summary Service.
  • Tips on how to find information online more effectively within the Skills to find, use and share knowledge section.



Social Services Knowledge Scotland Library

Social Services Knowledge Scotland Library

Enter your search terms here e.g. Dementia

The Knowledge Network logo

Social Services Knowledge Scotland (SSKS) is part of the Knowledge Network developed by NHS Education for Scotland. You can search the library for books, journals and articles, but to get full access to resources you will need an OpenAthens account. This is freely available to anyone working in social care in Scotland. Register here.


Iriss: Evidence-informed practice

Iriss is a charity that builds the capacity and capability of the Scottish social services workforce, to access and make use of knowledge and evidence-informed practice, for service improvement.

Evidence summaries

  • 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 - summaries of evidence produced by the Iriss Evidence Search and Summary Service 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.

Evidence Search and Summary Service 

The Iriss Evidence Search and Summary Service (ESSS) helps you find and use evidence from research, practice and experience to inform practice, service improvement and continuous learning. If you have an evidence query, one of Iriss' Information Specialists will be happy to help you.

This is a free service and the summaries of evidence (ESSS Outlines) Iriss produces for individuals and organisations are made available on the website.

Other Iriss resources

  • podcast - Scotland's social services podcast presenting research, projects and events on current topics of interest to the sector.
  • Toolkits - tools and guidance on topics such as: evidence use in practice; how to make co-production happen; working in an outcomes focused way, how to create effective partnerships; and how to explore ideas collaboratively and facilitate conversations.
  • Research Trim (student research) - a showcase and summary of the best of Undergraduate/Masters' in Social Work dissertations and PhD/early careers research.
  • Online learning - multimedia learning resources on various topics. Includes a finding evidence online course.
  • Case studies - a series of case studies that showcase good practice. Topics include: leadership; service user and carer involvement; and community social work.
  • Curate and Connect - special collections of Iriss resources based on topics at the forefront of the Covid-19 crisis. Each collection includes insights from a member of the social services workforce about the impact of Covid-19.


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

Finding evidence online - online learning for those working in social services who are looking to develop their skills in finding and using evidence. The content of this short and accessible resource takes around fifteen minutes to work through.

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

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 enter an 'institution', please select NHS Scotland.

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. 

Make your learning count

Get recognition for learning how to use the SSKS library through Open Badges. These are digital certificates which recognise formal and informal learning and can count towards your professional registration and training. Find Open Badges here.

Can’t find what you are looking for?

If you or your Team would like more information on how to use the SSKS library we can offer tailored training sessions. Contact us at  


Improvement support section

An introduction to the Improvement support section and quality improvement methodology.

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 & Young People Bulletin: 19 -25 May 2023

Children & Young People Bulletin: 19 -25 May 2023

Children & Young People Bulletin: 19 -25 May 2023

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 & Health Bulletin: 19 - 25 May 2023

Adult & Health Bulletin: 19 - 25 May 2023

Adult & Health Bulletin: 19 - 25 May 2023