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Research Methods for Social Workers

Research Methods for Social Workers

Linda Bell


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Book Details


This handy book is a one-stop introduction to research and evaluation for social workers. Including unique project examples, exercises, discussion points and extensive signposting to further reading, and drawing on the author's many years of teaching experience, it is essential reading for students who may be unfamiliar with research methods.

Linda Bell is Associate Professor in the School of Health & Education at Middlesex University, UK. She has extensive experience of teaching research methods to professional students, particularly social workers. She has also successfully supervised many doctoral and master's dissertations. Linda is an anthropologist who has researched and published on various aspects of health, social care, gender issues and parenting. She has specific expertise in feminist research, and in research ethics.

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Cover Cover
Contents v
List of exercises viii
List of figures ix
Preface x
Acknowledgements xii
1 From social work skills to research skills: what is ‘being research minded’? 1
Introduction 1
Working towards research mindedness 5
Applying and defining approaches to enquiry in practice 12
Linking research and evaluation to professional development 14
Chapter summary 15
Further reading 16
2 Understanding published research and research design: scoping and summarising 17
Introduction: Media and information 17
Assessing knowledge: Thinking about ontology and epistemology 20
Ways of thinking about research design (methodology) 23
Finding appropriate knowledge and publications for reviews 27
Different kinds of review: Scoping studies, systematic reviews, meta-analyses and ‘academic’ literature reviews 29
Skills involved in critiquing research literature (critical appraisal) 35
Chapter summary 40
Further reading 40
3 Dealing with ethics and maintaining professional values during research 41
Introduction: Principles, professional and theoretical issues 41
What is ‘research ethics’? 42
Research governance for social work and health researchers (including students) in the UK 44
Research processes: Ethical aspects 47
Ethical issues in research practice 49
Chapter summary 58
Further reading 59
4 Talking and listening: using ‘qualitative’ methods to develop relationship based approaches to research 60
Introduction: The importance of relationships in research and social work 60
Underpinning approaches in qualitative research:\rGrounded theory, ethnography, feminist approaches,\rphenomenology, case studies and ‘practice-near’\rresearch 62
Key qualitative methods – interviews, observation, focus groups, vignettes/scenarios 74
Chapter summary 85
Further reading 86
5 Working with documentary sources and analysing qualitative data in social work research 87
Introduction 87
Using documents 87
Obtaining documentary data from observational methods 92
Preparing to analyse your material – some practical issues 94
Dealing with ‘qualitative’ comments produced by respondents on questionnaires 97
Analysing text taken from documents 97
Selecting, organising and analysing qualitative data: Interviews and focus group material 100
Chapter summary 105
Further reading 105
6 It’s all about attitude: ways of capturing and understanding measurable data 106
Introduction 106
Descriptive survey design (methodology) and methods 108
Developing and using a questionnaire/attitude measure on ‘attitudes to research’ 115
Building explanations from quantitative data 117
‘Pre’ and ‘Post’ test design – showing whether or not there are changes before and after an intervention 120
Gathering and analysing data from randomised controlled trials (RCTs) – a form of experimental design 121
Chapter summary 125
Further reading 126
7 Mixing it up: how to combine research approaches without getting into a muddle 127
Introduction 127
Some key theoretical issues in relation to ‘mixing methods’ 128
Mixing methods during the research process 130
Examples of research using ‘mixed’ methods in different ways 132
Practical considerations when deciding whether or not to mix methods in a project 137
Chapter summary 139
Further reading 140
8 Can you innovate? developing arts-based and visual methods for social work research 141
Introduction 141
Researching and using arts-based methods in social work education 143
Methods of data collection, analysis and interpretation in art-based research: discussion 150
Chapter summary 152
Further reading 153
9 What’s out there? using the internet and social media for research 154
Introduction 154
Using online methods in social work research 155
Ethical issues in online/digital contexts 156
Examples of online/digital social work research 158
Chapter summary 162
Further reading 163
10 Becoming a social work researcher: building confidence as well as skills 164
Introduction/Summary 164
Producing a research proposal 166
Outline of headings for a research proposal 169
My final suggestions 172
Glossary of key terms 174
Appendices 183
Notes 206
References 209
Index 224