Home » Introduction to Social Work Research

Introduction to Social Work Research

Oleksandr (Sasha) Kondrashov

Last Updated: April 2020

Course History

The course was built on teaching experience from four universities in Canada: 

  1. The University of Manitoba SOWK 3100 Systematic Inquiry course (Aboriginal Focus Programs) BSW level;  
  2. The University of Northern British Columbia SK 609 Advanced Quantitative Research Methods MSW course,
  3. Wilfred Laurier SK 504 Research 1 MSW course and
  4. Course assignment in SOWK 6070 Qualitative Research Course Outlines at the University of Manitoba.

Course Description

Students explore the concepts, methods, and processes of social research, and develop skills in conducting and assessing research. Students are challenged to examine their own approach to knowing, to incorporate research into practice, and to think critically about research in relation to social work practice. The subjectivity of the researcher, the political and ethical context of research, and the role of research as an instrument of power in the lives of oppressed peoples is discussed.

Educational Objectives/Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of this course, the student should be able to:

  1. Describe the value of research (what it is, why it matters, how to do it) and describe its relationship to social work and the individuals and communities with whom we work;
  2. Summarize the principal features of various research paradigms (positivist, interpretive, critical);
  3. Describe the value and utility of both quantitative and qualitative research methods;
  4. Describe specific methodologies and identify when to apply them such as feminist, Aboriginal (decolonizing),(participatory) action, survey, case study, program evaluation, needs assessment, and single subject design;
  5. Identify and analyze political, theoretical, and ethical issues related to the design, implementation, and use of social work research;
  6. Critically analyze the relationships between social location (based on factors such as ‘race’, ethnicity, gender, age, class, sexual orientation, (dis)ability, and faith) and experiences of doing research and being researched;
  7. Develop the knowledge and skills to effectively utilize social work research in a critical manner;
  8. Apply this knowledge to a research topic chosen of your choice.

 

Course Materials

Absolon, K., & Willett, C. (2004). Aboriginal research: Berry picking and hunting in the 21st century. First Peoples Child & Family Review, 1(1), 5-17.

Altpeter, M., Schopler, J. H., Galinsky, M. J., & Pennell, J. (1999). Participatory research as social work practice: When is it viable?. Journal of Progessive Human Services, 10(2), 31-53.

Carter, S. M., & Little, M. (2007). Justifying knowledge, justifying method, taking action: Epistemologies, methodologies, and methods in qualitative research. Qualitative health research, 17(10), 1316-1328.

Castleden, H., & Garvin, T. (2008). Modifying Photovoice for community-based participatory Indigenous research. Social science & medicine, 66(6), 1393-1405.

Chapter 1 from Creswell, J. W. (2014). The selection of a research approach. Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches, 3-24.

Chapter 13 Engel, R. J., & Schutt, R. K. (2016). The practice of research in social work. Sage Publications.

Chapter 13 from Marlow, C. R. (2010). Research methods for generalist social work. Cengage Learning.

Chapter 4 from Rubin, A., & Babbie, E. R. (2016). Empowerment series: Research methods for social work. Cengage Learning.

Chapter 5 from Locke, L. F., Silverman, S. J., & Spirduso, W. W. (2009). Reading and understanding research. Sage Publications.

Chapter 6 from Knowles, J. G., & Cole, A. L. (2008). Handbook of the arts in qualitative research: Perspectives, methodologies, examples, and issues. Sage.

Chapter 7 from Neuman, W. L. (2014). Basics of social research. Pearson/Allyn and Bacon.

Creswell, J. W., Hanson, W. E., Plano Clark, V. L., & Morales, A. (2007). Qualitative research designs: Selection and implementation. The Counseling Psychologist, 35(2), 236-264.

D’Cruz, H. and Jones, M. (2008). Chapter 1: Research, Social Work and Professional Practice. In Heather D’Cruz & M. Jones (eds.), Social Work Research: Ethical and Political Contexts. Thousand Oak: Sage.

Donnelly, C. A., Boyd, I., Campbell, P., Craig, C., Vallance, P., Walport, M., … & Wormald, C. (2018). Four principles to make evidence synthesis more useful for policy. Nature

Gibbs, A. (2001). The changing nature and context of social work research. British Journal of Social Work, 31(5), 687-704.

Landau, R. (2008). Social work research ethics: Dual roles and boundary issues. Families in society, 89(4), 571-577.

Lavallée, L. F. (2009). Practical application of an Indigenous research framework and two qualitative Indigenous research methods: Sharing circles and Anishnaabe symbol-based reflection. International journal of qualitative methods, 8(1), 21-40.

Lee, E. K. O., Brown, M., & Bertera, E. M. (2010). The use of an online diversity forum to facilitate social work students’ dialogue on sensitive issues: A quasi-experimental design. Journal of Teaching in Social Work, 30(3), 272-287

Pos, K., & Brown, L. (2005). Becoming an anti-oppressive researcher. Research as resistance: Critical, indigenous and anti-oppressive approaches, 255.

Reid, C. (2004). Advancing women’s social justice agendas: A feminist action research framework. International journal of qualitative methods, 3(3), 1-15.

Scheirer, M. A. (2012). Planning evaluation through the program life cycle. American Journal of Evaluation, 33(2), 263-294.

Scotland, J. (2012). Exploring the philosophical underpinnings of research: Relating ontology and epistemology to the methodology and methods of the scientific, interpretive, and critical research paradigms. English language teaching, 5(9), 9-16.

Snyder, H. (2019). Literature review as a research methodology: An overview and guidelines. Journal of Business Research, 104, 333-339.

Strier, R. (2006). Anti-oppressive research in social work: A preliminary definition. British Journal of Social Work, 37(5), 857-871.

Tracy, S. J. (2010). Qualitative quality: Eight “big-tent” criteria for excellent qualitative research. Qualitative inquiry, 16(10), 837-851.

Tri-Council Policy Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (2018): https://ethics.gc.ca/eng/documents/tcps2-2018-en-interactive-final.pdf

 

 

Student Evaluation & Assessment

EvaluationPercentageDue Dates
TCPS2 Core Certificate15 %TCPS2 Core Certificates https://tcps2core.ca/  
Class Project Part 115 %Class Project Part 1 report   
Research Quest Part 120%Research Quest Part 1 report   
Class Project Part 220 %Class Project Part 2 report   
Research Quest Part 230%Research Quest Part 2 report  
Total100% 

Topics Covered/Course Content

•             Introduction to Social Work Research
•             Literature Review and APA. Library Tour
•             Research Ethics, Power and Relational Issues in Research
•             Research Paradigms, Epistemologies, methodologies, and methods
•             Research Design
•             Qualitative Research Methods
•             Quantitative Research Methods
•             Reading Understanding and Writing Research: Staying Organized
•             Program Evaluation Research
•             Indigenous Research
•             Participatory and Feminist Action Research
•             Photovoice and Arts-based research
•             The future of social work research

Course Schedule

Week Topic(s) Readings (Bolded readings are included on quizzes)Assignments / Remarks
1.Introduction to Social Work Research D’Cruz, H. and Jones, M. (2008). Chapter 1: Research, Social Work and Professional Practice. In Heather D’Cruz & M. Jones (eds.), Social Work Research: Ethical and Political Contexts. Thousand Oak: Sage. Strier, R. (2006). Anti-oppressive research in social work: A preliminary definition. British Journal of Social Work37(5), 857-871. 
2.Literature Review and APA. Library TourDonnelly, C. A., Boyd, I., Campbell, P., Craig, C., Vallance, P., Walport, M., … & Wormald, C. (2018). Four principles to make evidence synthesis more useful for policy. Nature Snyder, H. (2019). Literature review as a research methodology: An overview and guidelines. Journal of Business Research104, 333-339. 
3.Research Ethics, Power and Relational Issues in ResearchTri-Council Policy Ethical Conduct for Research Involving Humans (2018): https://ethics.gc.ca/eng/documents/tcps2-2018-en-interactive-final.pdf Landau, R. (2008). Social work research ethics: Dual roles and boundary issues. Families in society89(4), 571-577. 
4.Research Paradigms, Epistemologies, methodologies, and methodsScotland, J. (2012). Exploring the philosophical underpinnings of research: Relating ontology and epistemology to the methodology and methods of the scientific, interpretive, and critical research paradigms. English language teaching5(9), 9-16. Carter, S. M., & Little, M. (2007). Justifying knowledge, justifying method, taking action: Epistemologies, methodologies, and methods in qualitative research. Qualitative health research17(10), 1316-1328.TCPS 2 Core Certificate is Due
5.Research DesignChapter 1 from Creswell, J. W. (2014). The selection of a research approach. Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches, 3-24. Chapter 4 from Rubin, A., & Babbie, E. R. (2016). Empowerment series: Research methods for social work. Cengage Learning.TCPS 2 Core Certificate is Due
6.Qualitative Research MethodsCreswell, J. W., Hanson, W. E., Plano Clark, V. L., & Morales, A. (2007). Qualitative research designs: Selection and implementation. The Counseling Psychologist35(2), 236-264. Tracy, S. J. (2010). Qualitative quality: Eight “big-tent” criteria for excellent qualitative research. Qualitative inquiry16(10), 837-851.Class Project Part 1 is due Research Quest Part 1 is due
7.Quantitative Research MethodsChapter 7 from Neuman, W. L. (2014). Basics of social research. Pearson/Allyn and Bacon. Lee, E. K. O., Brown, M., & Bertera, E. M. (2010). The use of an online diversity forum to facilitate social work students’ dialogue on sensitive issues: A quasi-experimental design. Journal of Teaching in Social Work, 30(3), 272-287Class Project Part 1 Research Quest Part 1
8.Reading Understanding and Writing Research: Staying OrganizedChapter 5 from Locke, L. F., Silverman, S. J., & Spirduso, W. W. (2009). Reading and understanding research. Sage Publications. Chapter 13 from Marlow, C. R. (2010). Research methods for generalist social work. Cengage Learning. 
9.Program Evaluation ResearchChapter 13 Engel, R. J., & Schutt, R. K. (2016). The practice of research in social work. Sage Publications. Scheirer, M. A. (2012). Planning evaluation through the program life cycle. American Journal of Evaluation33(2), 263-294. 
10.Indigenous ResearchAbsolon, K., & Willett, C. (2004). Aboriginal research: Berry picking and hunting in the 21st century. First Peoples Child & Family Review1(1), 5-17. Lavallée, L. F. (2009). Practical application of an Indigenous research framework and two qualitative Indigenous research methods: Sharing circles and Anishnaabe symbol-based reflection. International journal of qualitative methods8(1), 21-40. 
11.Participatory and Feminist Action ResearchReid, C. (2004). Advancing women’s social justice agendas: A feminist action research framework. International journal of qualitative methods3(3), 1-15. Altpeter, M., Schopler, J. H., Galinsky, M. J., & Pennell, J. (1999). Participatory research as social work practice: When is it viable?. Journal of Progessive Human Services10(2), 31-53. 
12.Photovoice and Arts-based researchChapter 6 from Knowles, J. G., & Cole, A. L. (2008). Handbook of the arts in qualitative research: Perspectives, methodologies, examples, and issues. Sage. Castleden, H., & Garvin, T. (2008). Modifying Photovoice for community-based participatory Indigenous research. Social science & medicine66(6), 1393-1405.Class Project Part 2 Research Quest Part 2
13.The future of social work researchGibbs, A. (2001). The changing nature and context of social work research. British Journal of Social Work31(5), 687-704. Potts, K., & Brown, L. (2005). Becoming an anti-oppressive researcher. Research as resistance: Critical, indigenous and anti-oppressive approaches255.  Class Project Part 2 Research Quest Part 2
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