Pathfinder: Poverty

The following Pathfinder helps to find information related to poverty.

The Steps to Research and Writing a Paper offers more detailed information on researching and writing your topic.

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 poverty are:

Alters, S. (2009). World poverty (2008 ed.) [electronic resource]. Detroit, MI: Gale Cengage Learning. [OhioLINK E-Book]

Gilbert, G. (2004). World poverty [electronic resource]: A reference handbook. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. [OhioLINK E-Book

Haughton, J. H., & Khandker, S. R. (2009). Handbook on poverty and inequality. Washington, DC: World Bank.

Hombs, M. E. (2001). American homelessness [computer file]: A reference handbook (3rd ed.). Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO. [OhioLINK E-Book]

Kerr, D. R. (2011). Derelict paradise: Homelessness and urban development in Cleveland, Ohio. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press.

Lowe, G. R., & Reid, P. N. (Eds.). (1999). The professionalization of poverty: Social work and the poor in the twentieth century. New York: Aldine de Gruyter.

Patterson, J. T. (2000). America’s struggle against poverty in the twentieth century (New ed.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Pimpare, S. (2008). A people’s history of poverty in America. New York: New Press: Distributed by W. W. Norton & Co.

Rodgers, H. R. (2006). American poverty in a new era of reform (2nd ed.). Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe.

Schiller, B. R. (2008). The economics of poverty and discrimination (10th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall.

Spicker, P., Leguizamon, S. A., & Gordon, D. (Eds.). (2007). Poverty: An international glossary (2nd ed.). London; New York: Zed Books; distributed by Palgrave Macmillan.

Stewart, F., Saith, R., & Harriss-White, B. (Eds.). (2007). Defining poverty in the developing world. Basingstoke [England]; New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

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

Below are suggested keywords to use when searching for information. You can use them when searching the catalog or the research databases. Try combining them with another concept having to do with your subject:

  • Discrimination
  • Low income
  • Poor
  • Poverty
  • Welfare reform

Also, using these subject headings in the library catalog may improve your search results:


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3. Find some general articles on your topic.

After you have located books on your topic, start looking for general journal articles on your subject. Several general databases include:

  • Academic Search Complete
    Subjects: most academic topics
    Formats: journals, magazines, newspapers, books, book reviews
    Publication dates: 1887-present
  • LexisNexis Academic
    Subjects: news, law, business
    Formats: newspapers, wire services, broadcast transcripts, company profiles, court cases
    Publication dates: most are 1990s – present; court cases are 1789 – present
  • Article First (OCLC)
    Subjects: business, science, humanities, social sciences, medicine, technology, popular culture
    Formats: journal articles
    Publication dates: 1990 – present
  • Summon
    Subjects: interdisciplinary
    Formats: journal articles, books, conference proceedings, newspapers, images, databases and more available at CWRU
    Publication dates: Ongoing
  • TOPICsearch
    Subjects: current events, social, political and economic issues, scientific discoveries
    Formats: journal articles, magazine articles, biographies, book reviews, government information, public opinion polls, international newspapers
    Publication dates: 1990 – present

These databases are interdisciplinary and most provide a mix of popular magazine articles and scholarly research articles.

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

After finding general journal articles on your topic, begin focusing on scholarly research articles. Citations, abstracts and, sometimes, the full-text of journal articles are found in a variety of research databases:

  • CINAHL Plus with Full Text
    Subjects: nursing, allied health
    Formats: journal articles, books, dissertations
    Publication dates: 1981 – present
  • Education Research Complete
    Subjects: education
    Formats: journal articles, books, conference proceedings
    Publication dates: 1865 – present
  • ERIC (Education Resources Information Center)
    Subjects: education
    Formats: journal articles, books, research syntheses, conference papers, technical reports, policy papers
    Publication dates: 1966-present
  • PsycINFO
    Subjects: psychology and related disciplines
    Formats: journal articles, books, dissertations
    Publication dates: 17th century – present
  • Social Work Abstracts
    Subjects: addictions, aging, child and family welfare, community organization, homelessness, human services, mental health, therapy
    Formats: journal articles
    Publication dates: 1965-present
  • SocINDEX
    Subjects: sociology, criminal justice, demography, ethnic and racial studies, gender studies, marriage and family, religion, social development, social psychology, social structure, social work, socio-cultural anthropology, substance abuse, violence
    Formats: journal articles, books, conference proceedings
    Publication dates: 1895-present

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

Journals that are most likely to contain information on the topic of poverty include:

Child Welfare online at: E-Journal Portal. (Public catalog)

Evaluation and Program Planning online at: OhioLINK. (Public catalog)

FOCUS (Institute for Research on Poverty) online at: IRP (Public catalog)

Journal of Community Practice online at: Taylor & Francis Online. (Public catalog)

Journal of Poverty online at: Taylor & Francis Online. (Public catalog)

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

Journal of Sociology & Social Welfare online at: E-Journal Portal. (Public catalog)

Public Welfare online at: E-Journal Portal. (Public catalog)

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

Social Work Abstracts online at: Case Research Databases [Database name: Social Work Abstracts] (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. Search online 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.

Here are selected websites with information on poverty:

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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.