The top four non-Canadian sources for connected social policy wonks

In the second post on this blog, entitled “The top five Canadian sources for connected social policy wonks,” I promised to deal with sources from outside Canada in a future post.  The time has come; this is that post.

One of the best, I think, is from Australia, entitled (appropriately) Australian Policy Online, is edited by the Social Research Institute of the Swinburne University of Technology.  It covers a wide range of public policy themes, including creative economy, economics, education, indigenous affairs, international, justice, and finally social policy.

Despite the value of the division into these themes, I find that virtually all their posts are related to social policy in some way.  For example, quick links on the home page include citizenship, immigration, poverty, and social problems. And to make it even more useful, it’s possible to subscribe to a “weekly briefing” by email, which can include all the themes, or can be customized to your specific interests.  Finally, it includes links to relevant video and websites, not just articles, press releases and reports, and it often goes beyond Australia to point to interesting new reports and programs from other countries or international bodies.

Speaking of international bodies, another of the best is from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, which was formed and is funded by most developed countries (who are committed to democracy and a market economy), with a mandate to provide “a setting where governments compare policy experiences, seek answers to common problems, identify good practice and coordinate domestic and international policies.”

Much of their invaluable research is available only to subscribers, many of whom are public and university libraries.  However, a lot of the highlights of its work is posted on its Facebook page, and working papers are available without cost on-line.  A recent one worthy of attention, for example, is entitled Minimum Income Benefits in OECD Countries, published in January 2010, which demonstrates that Canada offers the seventh-lowest minimum income benefits (social assistance) to singles without children (on page 14),  and second-lowest in minimum wage (page 17).

The OECD also offers RSS feeds (which you can use to get content delivered to your computer) by theme, by type of information, and/or by countries that might interest you.  It can be a lens on economic and social policy among advanced nations.

For a UK take on public policy questions, with an explicit left/centrist point of view, the Institute for Public Policy Research provides original research in the context of specific research projects, currently Global Change; and Citizens, Society and Economy. In a more general sense, its research themes include migration and integration, housing, welfare and poverty, crime and justice, children and families, and health and social care.

Publications from this Institute are usually available for download without charge, and often consist of short documents that will provide sources for you to delve more deeply into a subject of particular interest.  The Institute makes information available in a number of ways.  For example, it offers podcasts (which include recent speeches by senior politicians seeking re-election as audio of the speech itself, or one that includes the question and answer period) or transcripts of key speeches. It also offers an email newsletter, or RSS feeds of notices of new works.

The last source I find most useful is a site called “Information for Practice,” sponsored by the New York University School of Social Work and the Mount Sinai School of Medicine’s Division of Social Work and Behavioral Practice. This site is the work of one individual (Dr. Gary Holden, currently at NYU, formerly at the Mount Sinai med school), and it tracks and accumulates news story headlines, videos, images and books. Its mission is “to help social service professionals throughout the world conveniently maintain an awareness of news regarding the profession and emerging scholarship.”

One of its greatest contributions, in my opinion, is its tracking (and accumulation) of grey literature, which the Ottawa University library defines as “documents and ephemeral material issued in limited amounts outside the formal channels of publication and distribution.”  As this includes reports prepared by non-government organizations, it is often especially valuable for tracking research that may or may not find its way into scholarly journals.  This material covers such subjects as child welfare, drug treatment research and programs, health care, and family policy.

In addition to being continuously updated as a website, this service provides a monthly digest to email subscribers, and an RSS feed of grey literature.  It is voluminous, but in a reader, it can be scanned quickly, to pick up the gems of most direct interest to any particular subscriber.  I have found that it’s worth the effort.  And finally, the website can be searched, to find at last some historical information for particular research projects.

There are more, of course, but these four cover most of the world (or at least the English-speaking portions of it), and provide information that is timely, reliable, and reputable. Enjoy.

    • ZS
    • March 22nd, 2010

    Another great list!

    I like Lots of juicy bits – policy and political job postings around the world, research and news on economic, social, environmental justice, events (again from all over the world), an e-newsletter to subscribe to and a Think Tank Directory.

      • haviechenberg
      • March 22nd, 2010

      Good addition! Thanks!

    • Gary Holden
    • March 27th, 2010

    Thank you for your kind and supportive comments! Could you contact me at the above email (I couldn’t find yours here)?

    Thanks, gary

      • haviechenberg
      • March 27th, 2010

      Happy to!

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