Research Methods for Social Work Being Producers and Consumers of Research (Updated Edition)

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  • Edition: 2nd
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2010-10-05
  • Publisher: Pearson

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Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?


With its practical and accessible writing style, Research Methods for Social Workers, 2/e, offers numerous examples from the field of social work and emphasizes how research and social work practice are connected. CSWE-mandated areas of social work are emphasized. With over 25 years of teaching research and social work practice course, the author understands first-hand how practice and research are connected and how vital they are to each other. Each chapter reflects and integrates the core competencies in the 2008 Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards (EPAS) set by the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE). End-of-chapter assessment reinforces this integration, and MySocialWorkLab.com activities support the mastery of CSWE's core competencies.

Author Biography

 James (Jim) Dudley earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Education and an M.S.W. degree from the University of Illinois, and a Ph.D. from Bryn Mawr College.  He has also recently earned a M.S. Degree in Spirituality Studies from Loyola University at New Orleans.

Jim’s publications are wide-ranging and focus on families, individuals, and organizations in several areas. They include teenage parenting and procreative issues; nonresidential and teenage fathering; stigma, friendships, and social integration of people with developmental disabilities; deinstitutionalization of people with a dual diagnosis; policy analysis of a class action lawsuit of people with a dual diagnosis, spirituality and social work;  spirituality and hospice;  and other areas.  He has authored numerous books including Research Methods for Social Work, Social Work Evaluation, Fathering at Risk, Living with Stigma, and Lessons Learned from a Lawsuit. He has also authored or co-authored numerous articles and book chapters in many highly regarded journals including Social Work, Journal of Social Work Education, The Journal of Baccalaureate Social Work, Mental Retardation, Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, Family Relations, Families in Society, Psychiatric Services, and Administration in Social Work.

Jim has been a faculty member at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in the Department of Social Work since 1991 and before that was a faculty member at Temple University in the School of Administration for 18 years.  He is currently a Professor Emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and has served as Department Chair for seven years.  Overall, he has been teaching both social work research and social work practice courses for over 25 years.  He has been instrumental in establishing the MSW program and obtaining accreditation for the MSW and BSW programs at UNC Charlotte.  He has also always enjoyed and worked very closely with students, helping them become effective practitioners and researchers, and helping them find and grow their personal and professional selves.

Jim was a full-time social work practitioner for seven years, has served on several agency boards, and currently consults with social agencies in the Charlotte area.  Jim’s wife, Joanna, is a medical social worker employed in home health and they spend as much of their time as possible with their children and four grandchildren who also live in Charlotte.  

Table of Contents

1.      Why Social Workers Need Research?                                                           


Research as a Source of Knowledge

What is Research?

The Distinctiveness of Scientific Research

Development of theory

Importance of diversity in theories

Systematic and rigorous methods

Empirical evidence

Commitment to neutrality

Obligation to an ethical code

Consumer and Producer Roles

Consumer Role

Producer Role          

Using Critical Thinking Skills as Consumers and Producers

Why Do Social Work Researchers Conduct Studies?

The Research Topics of Interest to Social Workers         

The Book’s Perspective about the People Who are Studied


Discussion Questions


2.      The Philosophies and Purposes of Research                                     


Inductive and Deductive Philosophies

Inductive Research

Deductive Research

Assessment of Your Philosophical Tendencies

Quantitative, Qualitative, and Mixed Methodologies

Quantitative Methods

Qualitative Methods

Mixed Methods

Some Specialized Areas in Social Work Research

Participatory Action Research

Feminist Research

Afrocentric Research

Critical Thinking and Social Work Research


Discussion Questions


3.      Research Ethics and Social Work's Mandates                                              


Ethical Problems in Research

Physical harm

Psychological harm

Invasion of privacy

Deception of participants

Misrepresentation of findings

Balancing risks and gains 

Ethical Safeguards of Research


Informed Consent

Monitoring the effects of a study and offering any needed assistance

Involving research participants in decision-making

Selecting researchers without a conflict of interest

Mandates of Social Work

Adhering to the values and ethics of social work

Promoting a Commitment to Diversity

Promoting Social and Economic Justice and Special Attention to At-Risk Populations

Attending to Social Work Mandates throughout the Book


Discussion Questions


4.      Understanding the Research Topic                                                                            


What Issues Affect Problem Selection?

Political Perspective

Socio-Cultural Views

Professional Discipline

Specializations within social work

Personal Life Experiences

Employer Expectations, Funding Sources, and Other External Influences

Research Topics and Social Work

The Producer Role and the Research Topic

The Consumer Role and the Research Topic

The Literature Review

Tips on Completing Literature Searches

Purposes in completing a literature review

Strategies for Gathering Information

Writing up a Literature Review


Discussion Questions


5.      Defining and Measuring Concepts                                                                 


Concepts, Variables, Values, and Constants        

Constructing and Measuring Variables

Understanding Measurement

How Knowledge is Generated

Quantitative and Qualitative Measurements


Words from Forced-Response Questions

Word from Open-Ended Questions    

Levels of Measurement

Validity and Reliability

How Is Validity Measured?

How Is Reliability Measured?

Standardized Scales

Diversity Issues

Likert Scales

Thurstone and Guttman Scales

Goal Attainment Scales for Evaluating Social Work Practice


Discussion Questions


6.      Focusing a Research Study                                                                                         


Descriptive Studies

Exploratory Studie

Explanatory Studies        

Descriptive and Exploratory Studies Ask General Research Questions

Explanatory Studies Test Hypotheses

Constructing Hypotheses

Types of Variables

Three Conditions of Causal Relationships

Practical Uses of Hypotheses

Hypothesizing to Evaluate Social Work Practice

Generating Hypotheses

Focusing a Research Study and the Consumer Role                                                         


Discussion Questions


7.      Designing the Study

Review of Prior Steps

Considering Secondary Research and Existing Data                     

What is the Intention of the Study?

Descriptive research Designs

Exploratory Research Designs

Explanatory Research Designs

Three Key Questions

Illustration 1

Illustration 2

Designing a Study and the Consumer Role                       


Discussion Questions


8.      Considering Sampling Techniques                                                                   


Important Sampling Concepts

Selecting a Sample

Probability and Non-Probability Sampling

Types of Probability Sampling     

Types of Non-Probability Sampling

Diversity, Social Justice Issues, and Samples                                         

Using Combinations of Sampling Approaches

Sample Size


Discussion Questions


9.      Constructing Surveys                                                                                      


Using Interviews in Research

Types of Interviews

Varying Ways to Conduct Interviews

Using Questionnaires in Research

Types of Questionnaires

Varying Ways to Administer Questionnaires

Similarities Between Data Collection in Research and Social Work

Importance of High Response Rates

Validity and Reliability Issues

Diversity and Social Justice

Comparing Interviews and Questionnaires



How to Construct a Survey

Constructing Qualitative Surveys


Discussion Questions


10.    Constructing Observational Studies                                                               


Conducting Structured Observations

Conducting Unstructured Observations

Participant Observation

Non-Participatory Unstructured Observation

The Ethical Problems of Observing Covertly

Incorporating Diversity and Social Justice

Advantages of Observational Research

Validity and Reliability Issues

How to Construct an Observational Data Collection Instrument

Observing Social Artifacts and Other Non-Human Entities

Examples of Observations in Social Work Settings


Discussion Questions


11.    Exploring Causal Relationships: Quasi-Experimental,

         Experimental and Single System Designs                                                      


The Relevance of Causal Relationships in Social Work Practice

Claiming that the Intervention Makes a Difference                                                                                                                     

Documenting the Impact of Social Work Interventions

Group Designs for Exploring Causal Relationships

Research Designs for Exploring Causal Relationships

One-Group Posttest-Only Design

Pretest/Posttest Design

Pretest/Posttest Design with a Comparison Group

Time Series Design

Pretest/Posttest Design with a Control Group

Validity and Group Designs                               

Using Single System Designs for Practice Evaluations

Different Types of Single System Designs      

Implementing a Single System Design

Options for Analyzing Progress for Single System Designs


Discussion Questions


12.    Collecting the Data                                                                              


Differences between Quantitative and Qualitative Data Collection

Training for Data Collection

Preparation for Collecting Data

Preparation for Quantitative Methods

Preparation for Qualitative Methods

Preparation for Leading Focus Groups

Considering the Influence of the Personal Characteristics of the Researcher

Collecting the Data and the Consumer Role


Discussion Questions



13.    Quantitative Data Analysis                                                                              


Coding the Data

Coding Questions that Directly Elicit a Numerical Response

Coding Forced-response Questions 

Coding Forced-response Questions with Multiple Options

A Code Book

Ethics and Data Analysis

Descriptive Statistics for Data Analysis

Frequency Distributions

Measures of Central Tendencies

Measures of Variability or Dispersion

Bi-Variate Statistics for Data Analysis

Significance, Statistical Significance, and Statistical Tests                                         

Measuring the Association Between Two Variables

Chi-Square Test

Correlation Test

Comparing Two or More Groups



Multivariate Statistics for Data Analysis

Mixed Methods

Working with a Data Set

Analyzing Quantitative Data and the Consumer Role


Discussion Questions


14.    Qualitative Data Analysis                                                                               


Qualitative Versus Quantitative Data Analysis

Varied Types of Qualitative Data

How is Qualitative Data Analyzed?

Strategy 1: Case Studies

Strategy 2:  Summarizing Responses for Open-Ended Questions

How to Summarize Responses for Open-Ended Questions

Strategy 3:  Theme Analysis

How to Conduct a Theme Analysis

Data Collection Approaches and the Three Strategies

Other Types of Qualitative Data Analysis

Content Analysis

Ethnographic Analysis

Observational Analysis of Social Situations

Validating Data

Mixed Methods

Analyzing Qualitative Data and the Consumer Role


Discussion Questions


15.    Preparing a Report                                                                              


Task A. Highlighting Background Material on the Study

Task B: Focusing the Findings

Organization of Findings

Accuracy and Clarity

Use of Graphics

Task C. Developing Recommendations

Task D: Writing or Presenting the Report

Considering Potential Readers of the Report

Contents of a Traditional Research Report

Reporting on Qualitative Studies

Reporting on the Research and the Consumer Role


Discussion Questions


16.      Program and Practice Evaluation


Accountability to Stakeholders

A Political Process

Defining Evaluation

Purposes of Evaluations

Steps in Conducting an Evaluation

Planning, Implementation, and Outcome Stages

Logic Model

Evaluations during the Planning Stage

A Needs Assessment

Other Evaluation Strategies When Planning

Evaluations during the Implementation Stage

Is the Intervention Implemented as Intended?

Is the Quality of the Intervention High?

How Accessible is the Intervention to All Client Groups?

How Satisfied are the Clients with the Intervention?

Evaluations during the Outcome Stage

Group Designs

Cost/Benefit Analysis Studies

Outcomes in Practice Evaluations


Discussion Questions

Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?

The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

The Used, Rental and eBook copies of this book are not guaranteed to include any supplemental materials. Typically, only the book itself is included. This is true even if the title states it includes any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.

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