Help

The Social Welfare Portal includes a high quality collection of full text research and evaluation reports, Parliamentary papers, consultations and policy proposals selected by our social policy curators and available for immediate download free of charge.

Hopefully you'll find the answer to your question here, but if not please don't hesitate to contact us.

Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ Who is Social Welfare at The British Library for?

Social Welfare at the British Library focuses on social policy development, implementation and evaluation. The research reports collection mainly covers the situation in the UK, but the Welfare Reform Digest includes abstracts of articles on policy development in both the UK and other Western countries to faciliate comparative research and policy borrowing. The portal is designed to be useful to:

  • Researchers, policymakers and policy liaison officers in the Third Sector - charities, think tanks and community organisations

  • Managers and training and development officers in the statutory, voluntary and independent sectors

  • Independent researchers and consultants

  • Student social workers and their teachers

The portal will not provide quick access to detailed practice guidance - for this please use the resources of our partner the Social Care Institute for Excellence.

FAQ What does it contain?

The portal contains a high quality collection of full text digital research and evaluation reports, issued by academic research centres, think tanks, and campaigning charities, Parliamentary papers, government consultations and policy proposals, all selected by our social policy curators and available for immediate download free of charge.

The portal also contains articles that we have commissioned from individual authors, and a powerful search interface that brings together all of the British Library's material in one results list - so you can see all the print books and journals, audio and websites that we have alongside the content from the Portal itself.

It does not contain the full text of peer-reviewed journal articles.

 

FAQ What is available free and what do I have to pay for?

You can download the latest research reports, summaries and government papers in the field free of charge.

The high cost of journal subscriptions means we cannot deliver journal articles to your home or office free of charge. Your university, public or organisation library can provide you with print or electronic versions, or you can order them from the British Library On Demand document supply service on a pay as you go basis. If you have a British Library Reader Pass, you can read print or electronic journals in our reading rooms in London or Yorkshire for free. For a step-by-step guide on how to order material please visit I want this: how to get books and journal articles from the British Library.

FAQ Why are there very few full text academic journal articles on the portal?

This is because the cost of licencing subscription-based electronic journals for remote use is prohibitively expensive. It could also potentially duplicate provision by universities, national charities and professional bodies, which would not be a good use of public money. However, we do link out to open access versions of articles when they are available and when we have found them.

If you need journal articles and can't get them from your University or Public Library, you can:

  • Come to the British Library in London and get a Reader Pass that will enable you to use the electronic journals while you are in our reading rooms in London or Boston Spa in Yorkshire. In the Social Science Reading Room in London you'll find the latest 12 months' issues of a selection of print journals on the shelves, you can also order journal issues for delivery to the Reading Room.
  • Order the journal article you need from our On Demand document supply service on a pay as you go basis, or the publisher's website. Again, if you're an academic or student, your University Library can help you via our inter-library loan service.

FAQ I want to write an article for you. Who do I contact?

We're always pleased to hear from potential authors, so please don't hesitate to contact us. You need to have a good idea for an article and be able to demonstrate that you know about the subject, as well as being willing to grant us non-exclusive rights to publish the article.

We are also happy to re-publish articles that have appeared elsewhere, provided you are the copyright-holder or can get copyright clearance. We will verify these things with you, explain our editorial policy and writing style, and make sure there are no copyright issues, once you contact us.

FAQ How do I get my organisation's content added to the portal?

If you, or your organisation, would like to contribute content specifically to Social Welfare Portal at the British Library, please contact us.

If you would like to find out more about contributing electronic content to the British Library generally, or to have your website archived by the UK Web Archive, please see our webpages about Legal Deposit.

FAQ How do I register?

Anyone can register to use Social Welfare at the British Library. Just complete a short online form on hour homepage, click on the link in the email we send you, and that's it!

The data you give us will be kept secure and will not be used for any other purposes or shared with any third parties. Click on the word Register in the top right of any Social Welfare Portal screen to start your registration.

You don't need to come to the British Library to register to use the Portal. You do, however, need to come to our Reader Registration Office in London if you want to get a British Library Reader Pass to use our reading rooms. Remember to bring two forms of ID with you.

FAQ What are the benefits of registration?

Registered portal users can:

  • Sign up to receive alerts, tailored to their subject interests
  • Access a personalised home page, which offers Twitter and RSS feeds
  • Leave comments on portal content

However, the research reports collection and Welfare Reform Digest are available to all without registration.

FAQ What are alerts?

If you register for alerts, you will receive information from us on new content and services, tailored to your subject interests.

Email alerts are set up by you when you register to the Social Welfare at the British Library. You can choose to receive alerts for any one or more of the key subject areas, or no alerts at all, it's up to you.

 

FAQ How do I use the portal?

The portal's full text research reports, editorial articles and the archived Welfare Reform Digest are available to all, 24/7

However, if you perform a search, you will be directed to the British Library catalogue, Explore the British Library. Here you are searching a database containing records of books, journal articles, theses, audio recordings and archived websites in the British Library's stock.

To consult printed items, you will need to register for a British Library Reader Pass and visit our reading rooms in person. Explore is a different system from the Social Welfare Portal, and at the moment it requires you to log into it with your Reader Pass number in order to request material. Please see the Help pages written by our Electronic Services team for step by step instructions and video tutorials to help you use Explore.

You can also order electronic versions of theses and journal articles to be delivered to your home or office via our On Demand document supply service. Please note that supply of journal articles is a charged service. For full details of how to order journal articles please visit I want this: how to get books and journal articles from the British Library

FAQ In the search box, what does 'Digital content only' and 'All Social Welfare content' mean?

'Digital content' means:

All downloadable, full text, content in the Social Welfare Portal. This includes the latest research reports, policy briefings, and summaries from think tanks and charities who have an agreement with The British Library.

'All Social Welfare content only' means:

  • everything in the Social Welfare Portal

  • plus a subset of print and digital material in the British Library's collections (library books, journals, datasets, sound recordings, theses, websites etc) that we have identified as being relevant for the subject of Social Welfare

We use an automated process to capture catalogue records of books etc. with the relevant Dewey class numbers, this set is updated once a week. New Social Welfare Portal content is added overnight each night.

If you want to see only  Social Welfare Portal content:

First: Search using All Social Welfare content

Second: In the Results list, look on the left hand side where it says Refine my results and choose Reports as the material type to see all downloadable reports, working papers and other PDFs on the Portal.

FAQ Ordering journal articles to be delivered to your home or office

The high cost of journal subscriptions means we cannot deliver journal articles to your home or office free of charge. Your university, public or organisation library can provide you with print or electronic versions, or you can order them from the British Library On Demand document supply service on a pay as you go basis.

If you have a British Library Reader Pass, you can read print or electronic journals in our reading rooms in London or Yorkshire for free. For a step-by-step guide on how to order material please visit I want this: how to get books and journal articles from the British Library.

FAQ Ordering books or other print materials to be delivered to the reading room

Most material is not kept on the open shelves in the British Library. In fact, most of our books, journals and other print material is kept in storage in Boston Spa in Yorkshire - two hundred miles away from our main Reading Rooms in London. So, you need to order the books, journal issues and other printed items you need to use in advance of your visit.

You need to have a British Library Reader Pass to be able to order up material for delivery to our Reading Rooms.

Start your search using the search box on the Social Welfare Portal, and selecting 'All Social Welfare content'. This will take you into the Explore the British Library Search our Catalogue system. Explore is a different system from the Social Welfare Portal, and at the moment it requires you to log into it with your Reader Pass number in order to request material. Please see the Help pages written by our Electronic Services team for step by step instructions and video tutorials to help you use Explore.

FAQ What is a British Library Reader Pass? And how can I get one?

A Reader Pass is a plastic card with a Reader Number on it that enables you to use the British Library's collections in our Reading Rooms in London and Boston Spa, Yorkshire.

You have to apply for a Reader Pass in person, by coming to our Reader Registration Office in St Pancras, London with the required forms of identification. Please read the detailed information here.

You also need to show that you have a genuine need to use our collections, for example because you need to use material that is only available from the British Library. When you come to the Reader Registration Office, the staff there will ask you why you need to use the British Library, and will expect you to be able to describe what you want to do. It helps if you have done a search of our catalogue and can name some books, journals and other resources that you need to use. If you're a University student, you really need to show that you need to use material that is not available from your University i.e. research-level material, not textbooks.