Lessons for international comparative research : The case of the IASSW census
Using a case study of the IASSW census of social work education world wide, this paper examines the issues arising for international comparative research in terms of logistical planning focusing on accounting for the cultural, linguistic, professional and educational differences across the world. The analysis of these issues for such knowledge production are located within these differences and the discussions of them across the local regions and countries. The particular place of the construction of reality through the use of language as this impacts upon how we try to construct a survey, how to take account of how these matters may skew what we are trying to discover , and how we might best use the knowledge of possible confounding factors in what we are trying to discover in our research are discussed. The census’ methodology and results are examined here in relation to what we might have anticipated as problems and what we found in the analysis of the responses from across the globe. Ideas on what and how we might have constructed our survey differently, the effectiveness of the strategies we used to maximize participation and relative advantages/disadvantages of web-based and paper survey distribution are discussed and analysed with ideas what we may include in the 2020 census, and how. The process of undertaking such cross-national research in terms of practical and methodological matters are presented for discussion. This will contribute to the development of University organisation and provision in order to prepare students for their work more effectively by learning from such comparative work and analysis.