Pathfinder: International Social Work

The following Pathfinder is intended to step you through the basic library research process for identifying resources relating to the topic of International Social Work. Consult the Steps to Research and Writing a Paper for more detailed information.

References to book and journal titles and their call numbers and locations are specific to items owned by the MSASS Harris Library and Case Western Reserve University libraries (although in most cases the resources can be found in other academic and public libraries). The websites that are included at the end of the Pathfinder are intended as a starting point for research on the Internet and are not meant to be inclusive.

1. Start by locating resources that provide an overview of your topic.

This will help you define terms in that discipline and provide background information in your subject area. Encyclopedias, handbooks and subject specific dictionaries offer good places to start.

Some titles specifically related to international social work are:

Borrmann, S., Klassen, M., & Spatscheck, C. (Eds.). (2007). International social work: Social problems, cultural issues and social work education. Opladen [Germany]: Barbara Budrich.

Campanini, A., & Frost, E. (Eds.). (2004). European social work: Commonalities and differences. Roma: Carocci.

Chatterjee, P. (2010). A story of ambivalent modernization in Bangladesh and West Bengal: The rise and fall of Bengali elitism in South Asia. New York: Peter Lang. [MSASS Emeriti Faculty]

Cox, D. R., & Pawar, M. S. (2006). International social work: Issues, strategies, and programs.Thousand Oaks, CA:
Sage Publications.

Freitas, M. J. (2005). Children, young people and families: Examining social work practice in Europe.Roma: Carocci.

Gray, M., & Webb, S. A. (Eds.). (2010). International social work. (Vols. 1-4). Los Angeles: Sage.

Healy, L. M., Asamoah, Y., & Hokenstad, M. C. (Eds.). (2003). Models of international collaboration in social work education. Alexandria, VA: Council on Social Work Education.

Hokenstad, M. C., & Midgley, J. (Eds.). (1997). Issues in international social work: Global challenges for a new century. Washington, DC: NASW Press.

Hokenstad, M. C., & Midgley, J. (Eds.). (2004). Lessons from abroad: Adapting international social welfare innovations.
Washington, DC: NASW Press.

Human development report (2004-). New York: Oxford University Press. Available ONLINE thru the Library Catalog .

Levinson, D. (1998). Ethnic groups worldwide: A ready reference handbook. Phoenix, AZ: Oryx Press.

Lyons, K. H. (1999). International social work: Themes and perspectives. Aldershot, England: Ashgate.

Mayadas, N. S., Watts, T. D., & Elliott, D. (Eds.). (1997). International handbook on social work theory and practice . Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.

Ponterotto, J. G. (Ed.). (2010). Handbook of multicultural counseling (3rd ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Sage.

Ramanathan, C. S., & Link, R. J. (1999). All our futures: Principles and resources for social work practice in a global era. Pacific Grove: Brooks/Cole.

Tripodi, T., & Potocky-Tripodi, M. (2007). International social work research: Issues and prospects.Oxford [UK], New York: Oxford University Press.

United States. Social Security Administration. Office of Research and Statistics. (1969-). Social security programs throughout the world. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Also Available Online. Note: Publisher changed format to 4 country volumes every two years. The four country volumes are called 1/The Americas, 2/Africa, 3/Europe, and 4/Asia & the Pacific. Check the catalog and the online version for the latest volumes of each section.

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2. Search the online catalog for additional books that will give you the history, context, definitions and theories.

Define the terms that you want to use when you are doing a search for materials. If you do a subject search in the online catalog, the system limits you to using predefined Library of Congress Subject Headings. Click here for more information on doing a subject search.

Some subject headings for international social work (in alphabetical order):

  • International agencies
  • Public welfare – cross-cultural studies
  • Social policy – cross-cultural studies
  • Social policy – (name of place, as in Social policy – Sweden)
  • Social service – international cooperation
  • Social work administration – (name of place, as in Social work administration – Germany)
  • Social work education – (name of place)
  • Social work with children – (name of place)
  • Social work with juvenile delinquents – (name of place)
  • Social work with the aged – (name of place)
  • Social work with women – (name of place)
  • Social work with youth – (name of place)

Doing a keyword search will give you many more titles than a subject search and may help you focus the results. When you do a keyword search the system looks in the title, subject and table of contents fields. Click here for more information on doing a keyword search.

To do effective keyword searching, you will need to think of concepts and terms related to your topic. Consulting a thesaurus will help you find synonyms for concepts. Click herefor a list of thesauri owned by the Harris Library.

In addition to the subject headings above, here are some general terms (in alphabetical order) to use when searching for information on international social work . When you narrow your search you will make an additional list specific to your topic.

NOTE: Using a system’s truncating symbol (in this example, the asterisk “*”) at the end of the root word will provide you with records using variations of that word.

  • Cross cultural studies
  • International adoption
  • International community
  • International develop*
  • International organiz*
  • International social policy
  • International social service
  • International social welfare
  • International social work
  • International social work education
  • Multicultural social work
  • Social Security
  • Welfare state international
You can do a key word search from this pathfinder. Enter your search terms just as you would from the keyword search menu in the online catalog and then click on “search.”
Search the Library Catalog for:

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3. Find some general articles on your topic.

After you have located books on your topic, you will want to look for general journal articles in your subject area. Case and OhioLINK offer several general databases. These include: Academic Search Complete, Lexis-Nexis Academic, Article First (OCLC), Social Sciences Index and TOPICsearch. These databases are interdisciplinary and most provide a mix of popular magazine articles and scholarly research articles. You can find these databases by choosing the Research Databases option in the Library Catalog. Note: Access is limited to authorized users.

TIP: When you search in general databases, you will sometimes retrieve citations
to book reviews related to your topic. These book reviews may be helpful in leading you to book
titles and/or authors in your area of interest.

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4. Search subject specific databases for more scholarly journal articles.

Once you have assembled general journal articles on your topic, you can begin focusing on scholarly research articles. Citations, abstracts and, sometimes, the full-text of journal articles are found in a variety of databases available through Case Western Reserve University and OhioLINK to authorized users. Case and OhioLINK databases are available by clicking on Research Databases in the Library Catalog.

The World Wide Web also makes available a range of databases. Some of these require a subscription fee to be paid; others are free. Click here to view a list of selected databases available on the Web that are related to social work and the social sciences.

Literature on international social work is found in many disciplines. Some of the databases that
will have articles on this topic include:

AGELINE is available electronically through the Case Research Databases list and as a free database on the web. It provides bibliographic coverage on aging in a social, psychological, health related and economic context and is published by the American Association of Retired Persons. It has selected coverage from 1966-1977, and inclusive coverage from 1978 to the present.

Chicano Database is available electronically through the OhioLINK Research Databases. It is produced by the Chicano Studies collection at the University of California at Berkeley, and includes citations for journals, newsletters, papers, and reports related to Mexican-American and Chicano issues. This is a specialized database and many of the documents that are cited may be difficult to locate. Coverage is from 1967 forward.

Child Abuse, Child Welfare, and Adoption is available electronically through the Case Research Databases list. It is produced by the National Clearinghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect and is the world’s largest collection of bibliographic databases on the maltreatment of children. It contains over 32,000 citations and abstracts from journals, books and conference reports.Coverage is from 1965 forward.

Contemporary Women’s Issues is available electronically through the OhioLINK Research Databases. The database provides full-text access to information on women in over 190 countries. Citations for journals, newsletters, and research reports from non-profit groups, government and international agencies are all included in this database. Coverage is from 1992 forward.

Ethnic Newswatch is available electronically through the Case Research Databases list and through theLibrary Catalog. It indexes and provides the full-text of over 260 leading periodicals and newspapers published by the ethnic and minority press in the Americas. The database has search options in both English or Spanish with over 1 million articles (over 200,000 in Spanish). Coverage is from 1990 forward.

Handbook of Latin American Studies is available electronically through the OhioLINK Research Databasesand the Case Research Databases. It includes evaluations of books, chapters, articles, and conference papers published in the field of Latin American studies. Coverage is from 1990 forward. The database is updated annually.

Historical Abstracts is available electronically through the OhioLINK Research Databases. This database selectively indexes articles from over 2100 journals published in 50 languages. It includes some books and dissertations. It covers all areas of world history:
political, diplomatic, military, economic, social, cultural, religious and intellectual. This database corresponds to the printed publication of the same name. Coverage is from 1955 to present.

PAIS (Public Affairs Information Service) International is available electronically through the OhioLINK Research Databases . The subject categories include the areas of public policy, social policy and the social sciences. It includes citations for books as well as
journal articles and covers a wide range of planning and public administration journals and books, including government publications. The coverage is from 1972 to the present.

PsycINFO is available electronically through the OhioLINK Research Databases. The database indexes the world’s literature in psychology and related disciplines. It covers over 1500 journals as well as books, and individual book chapters. The coverage is from 1967 forward. This index corresponds to the printed publication Psychological Abstracts. PsycINFO Historical – Need some historical
information from 1887-1966?

Social Work Abstracts is available electronically through the Case Research Databases list. It contains more than 45,000 records from 1700 social work related journals. Topics covered include service delivery, social work practice, homelessness, aging, child and family welfare, community organization, and substance abuse. The coverage is from 1977 to the present. This database corresponds with the printed publication Social Work Abstracts.

Sociological Abstracts is a database available electronically through the OhioLINK Research Databases. It indexes 2600 journals in sociology and related disciplines from over 55 countries. It also contains citations to many relevant dissertations and conference proceedings. Sociological Abstracts is an excellent source for information related to general community practice issues. The coverage is from 1963 through June 2005. This index corresponds to the formerly printed publication Sociological Abstracts. OhioLINK stopped subscribing to updates from this database effective June 2005, as a result nothing after that date will be present in the database. Check SocINDEX for current information.

CAUTION: The setup will vary for different databases. In many databases if you type in a phrase the system will look for the exact phrase. It does not add an “and” between words. So if you type “urban poverty homeless” you will get zero results because it will look for those words in that exact order. It is often clearer to enter oneterm at a time and combine the end results.

TIP: Look in the descriptor field and/or use the online thesaurus to lead you to additional terms.

NOTE: Online databases are distributed nationally and are not specific to Case Western Reserve University. The University will not own all the journals that are cited in the databases.

Click herefor information on finding journal titles in the online catalog.

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5. Browse current issues of journals that contain literature on your topic.

Click here for a list of journals to which the MSASS Harris Library subscribes. Journals that are most likely to contain information on the topic of international social work include:

Aging International online at: OhioLINK, E-Journal Portal. (Public catalog)

Australian Social Work online at: Taylor & Francis Online. OhioLINK (v.55-58, 2002-2005 only). E-Journal Portal. (Public catalog)

British Journal of Social Work online at: OhioLINK, E-Journal Portal. (Public catalog)

Canadian Social Work Review online at: (Public catalog)

Caribbean Journal of Social Work online at: EBSCOhost Research Databases, E-Journal Portal. (Public catalog)

European Journal of Social Work online at: Taylor & Francis Online. (Public catalog)

Indian Journal of Social Work online at:EBSCOhost Research Databases. (Public catalog)

International Journal of Aging & Human Development online at: MetaPress .(Public catalog)

International Journal of Child & Family Welfare Full Text NOT Available Online. [Table of Contents & Abstracts ONLY--v.5-v.10(1-2)-- NO LINKS] [Full Bibliography of Articles--v.5-v.10(1-2)--Citations ONLY-- NO LINKS] (Public catalog)

International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry online at:OhioLINK, E-Journal Portal. (Public catalog)

International Journal of Group Psychotherapy online at: Guilford. (Public catalog)

International Journal of Social Psychiatry online at:OhioLINK . (Public catalog)

International Journal of Social Welfare online at: OhioLINK, E-Journal Portal. (Public catalog)

International Social Work online at: OhioLINK, E-Journal Portal. (Public catalog)

New Global Development online at: (Public catalog) [Ceased]

Professional Development online at:EBSCOhost Research Databases. (Public catalog)

Social Development Issues online at:EBSCOhost Research Databases. (Public catalog)

Voluntas online at:OhioLINK, E-Journal Portal. (Public catalog)

Additional journals that cover general topics in Sociology and social studies are available in the Electronic Journal Center and the E-Journal Portal.

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6. Do a Web search on the Internet for additional information.

Information located through the Internet can provide supplemental material to scholarly research articles. Material retrieved from websites should always be evaluated for currency, authorship, bias and accuracy.

Following are selected websites that might be helpful when looking for information on international social work:

Australian Association of Social Workers

The AASW site includes the Code of Ethics, abstracts from the journal Australian Social Work, the full text of a discussion paper on welfare dependency in the 21st century, and other links relating to membership issues of the ASW.

Background Notes

The U.S. Department of State publishes Background Notes on approximately 170 countries worldwide. These are brief, factual online pamphlets with information on each country’s culture, history, geography, economy, government and current political situation. Some print copies are also available for in-library use in the Government Documents Dept. of Kelvin Smith Library.

The Clearinghouse on International Developments in Child, Youth and Family Policies

Columbia University’s Institute of Child and Family Policy created this website to act as a single course for information and data about other countries’ child, youth, and family policies. The clearinghouse’s website provides cross-national, comparative information on policies, programs, benefits, and services in 23 advanced industrialized countries to address child, youth, and family needs. Scope of the site includes laws, regulations, policies, programs, benefits, services designed to achieve specific objectives with or for individuals in their family roles, or the family as a whole unit.

Human Development Report

This publication of the United Nations Development Programme provides comparative data for174 countries in such areas as demographics, crime, gender gaps in employment and education, nutrition and many other topics. The report is in PDF format.


InterAction is a coalition of over 160 relief, development and refugee agencies. The site provides links to the home pages of many of the organizations, as well as information on worldwide relief efforts, the work of the Commission on the Advancement of Women, jobs and volunteer opportunities, and press releases.

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

The ICRC directs and coordinates international relief efforts relating to its humanitarian mission. The ICRC Worldwide section provides ICRC data on over 60 countries which permanently host the ICRC and the 80 countries where they conduct their operations. The Humanitarian Law section includes information on landmines, children and war, and refugees. The site is available in English, French, Spanish and Arabic as well as pages in Russian and Portuguese.

International Council on Social Welfare

Founded in 1928, this non-governmental organization represents a range of grassroots national and international groups seeking to advance social welfare, social justice and social development. The Related Links section connects to intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations. The Publications
section provides full-text access to the ICSW journal, Social Development Review.

International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW)

The International Federation of Social Workers (IFSW) is a global organization striving for social justice, human rights and social development. IFSW works towards this end through the development of work, best practices and international cooperation between social workers and their professional organizations. It is one of the three sponsors of the quarterly journal, International Social Work. The site offers direct links to member agencies, and their associated Web sites.

International Statistical Agencies

This page on theU.S. Census Bureau website lists statistical agencies by country.

Management of Social Transformations (MOST) Programme

MOST is a research programme of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Its objective is to establish links between researchers and policy makers in the area of social science research. The Clearinghouse offers up-to-date information on the projects, publications and activities of the MOST Programme. It features Best Practices in the fields of poverty eradication, social exclusion, and indigenous knowledge. The site has a global focus.


Produced by Richard J. Estes of the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Work, this site provides access to a vast array of web resources on international and comparative social development. “PRAXIS has been designed to meet the informational needs of two audiences: 1. social work and social policy educators and students with international interests; 2. other educators and students who require assistance in locating useful national and international resources on social and economic development.”–From website.


ProPoor’s mission is to disseminate information relating to several thousand non-governmental organizations (NGOs) throughout South Asia. The site allows you to get a list of NGOs in individual countries in South Asia, as well as to search its database by individual and organizational name or project focus.

Social Science Research Council

Founded in 1923, the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) is an independent, non-governmental, not-for-profit, international association devoted to the advancement of interdisciplinary research in the social sciences. This site is designed to inform social scientists and students about the activities of the SSRC.
Scholars interested in applying for an SSRC grant will find descriptions of fellowship programs in these pages, as well as information about and literature from SSRC publications.

Social Security Programs Throughout the World

This page links you to the PDF version of Social Security Programs Throughout the World published by the Office of Policy of the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare’s Social Security Administration. The report summarizes the features of social security systems in 172 countries and territories.

Statistics Canada

This is the site of Canada’s national statistical agency. The agency collects information in three broad subject areas: demographic and social, socio-economic and economic. The site allows you to search by keyword or under a number of main themes. It also includes links to other Canadian information resources.

Statistics Sweden: International Statistics

This web page, which is part of the “Statistics Sweden” site, provides links to government statistics for Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, North and South America, and Australia and Oceania. It also connects to websites of various international organizations.

Student’s Guide to Planning a Career in International Social Work

Ann Glusker of the University of Pennsylvania wrote the chapter presented in this site to help students find their way through the process of finding international social work employment.

United Nations

The United Nations is a key source for information for all issues relating to international social work. Social work visitors of this vast and comprehensive site may find its Economic and Social Development link especially useful.

University of Michigan Documents Center

This section of the Documents Center site links to information from the statistical agencies of a large number of foreign governments.

The World Bank Group

The mission of this organization is to fight poverty worldwide. The Poverty in Focus section of the site is a rich source of information on global poverty issues, including the full text of the World Development Report. The Topics and Sectors section provides information on subject areas such as AIDS, gender, social development and health & nutrition.

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7. Evaluate the information you have collected from books and articles.

Consult the bibliographies of the books and articles you have selected. This will lead you to additional references and authors to investigate. Make notes of the gaps in your literature so that you can use this information when you do additional searches. Click here for more information on evaluating the information you have collected .

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