Research Methods for Social Workers

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  • Edition: 7th
  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2011-02-14
  • Publisher: Pearson

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This social work research methods text is written in an accessible, reader-friendly style and includes numerous examples of how research can be used to inform social work practice. #xA0; It is part of the Connecting Core Competencies Series that integreates CSWE's core competencies and practice behaviors#xA0;throughout. #xA0;

Author Biography

Bonnie L. Yegidis, Ph. D., MSW     Bonnie Yegidis is Professor and Director of the School of Social Work at the University of South Florida, Tampa.  She teaches in the research methods and social work practice sequences in the School, and has conducted research on family violence,  cross-cultural issues in social work practice, and evidence based social work practice.  Dr. Yegidis earned her MSW degree from West Virginia University and her Ph. D. in Curriculum and Instruction, with a concentration in Measurement and Evaluation, from the University of South Florida.  She is the recipient of a number of awards and honors including Social Worker of the Year from the Georgia Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, and the Distinguished Alum Award from West Virginia University. 

Robert  W. Weinbach, Ph.D., MSW.     Bob Weinbach is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of South Carolina, where he continues to teach graduate level research courses in the College of Social Work. He is also the first author of Statistics for Social Workers, Eighth Edition; The Social Worker as Manager, Sixth Edition;  and is the author of Evaluating Social Work Services and Programs (all published by Allyn & Bacon), as well as over 75 other  publications and invited book chapters. He earned graduate degrees in social work from SUNY-Buffalo and Ohio State University and has worked in both medical and psychiatric social work practice and as a program evaluator.


Laura L. Myers, Ph.D., M.S.W.     Laura Myers is an Associate Professor and BSW Program Director at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University in Tallahassee, FL.  Laura received a Bachelor of Arts in Religion and Philosophy and completed her coursework and Master’s thesis in Computer Science and Statistics from the University of Southern Mississippi.  After several years of computer consulting for accounting firms, she returned to school to complete her M.S.W. and Ph.D. in Social Work at the University of Georgia.  Laura lives in Tallahassee with her husband, Dr. Bruce Thyer, and their four children, John, William, Joseph, and Cynthia.   Laura is interested in research, scholarly writing, human diversity and social discrimination, eating disorders, and social work and spirituality.


Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Toward Evidence-Based Practice

Introduction to Book

Historical Antecedents

Research and Practice

Alternative Knowledge Sources




Faulty Knowledge Can Promote Stereotypes

Misuse of Research Data

The Scientific Alternative

Types of Scientific Knowledge

Descriptive knowledge

Predictive knowledge

Prescriptive knowledge

Basic and Applied Research

Quantitative and Qualitative Research

Current Climate for Social Work Research

Practice Test


Video //  Engaging in Research Informed Practice

Case Study //  Crisis and Kinship in Foster Care


Chapter 2  Ethical Issues in Research

What are ethics?

Who provides data for our research?

Earlier abuses of research participants

The Nazi and Japanese medical experiments

The Tuskegee public health studies

The Milgram studies of obedience to authority

The Laud Humphreys studies of homosexual behavior

Today’s standards for protection of research participants 

Institutional Review Boards

Voluntary informed consent 

No unnecessary pain and suffering


Need to conduct the research

Contemporary issues related to research volunteers

Are research volunteers truly voluntary?

Dual-role relationships

Using deception in research

Withholding treatment and use of placebos

Availability of experimental interventions

Other ethical obligations of researchers

Practice Test


Video// Research Based Practice: Contracting with the client to select an evidence-based therapy

Case Study //Foster Care: Crisis and Kinship in Foster Care


Chapter 3 Research Problems and Questions

Why we begin with research problems

Identifying potential research problems 

Setting problem priorities   

Identifying and specifying the research problem

Selecting research questions

Qualitative versus quantitative questions

Developing qualitative research questions

Practice Test


Video // Engaging the client to share their experiences of alientation, marginalization

Case Study // Domestic Violence: Betty and Charlie Bristol

Chapter 4 Finding and Using Existing Knowledge

What is a review of the literature?

Purposes of a review of literature

Potential Sources

Professional journal articles

Trustworthy websites


Personal interviews with authorities

Research reports and monographs

Research presentations at conferences

Newspaper articles

Standard reference materials

Other, even more “questionable” sources

Content of workshops

Radio and television broadcasts

Magazines and periodicals

Using Internet searches to locate information sources

Organizing the product of a literature review

Writing the literature review 

Direction and flow

Use of quotations and citations

Role of the researcher

Research methods using literature review as focus

Systematic reviews


Content analysis

Practice Test


Video // Diversity in practice: Learning from the client to co-create an action plan

Case Study // Domestic violence: Betty and Charlie Bristol

Chapter 5 Focused Research Qquestions and Research Hypotheses

Focused questions

Research hypotheses

Variable and constant

Demographic variable 

Value label or value 


Dependent variable and independent variable

Confounding variables

Types of relationships between variables




Types of research hypotheses

When are research hypotheses appropriate?

Wording of research hypotheses

Use of subhypotheses 

The “perfectly worded” research hypothesis

Practice Test


Video // Learning from the client to co-create an action plan

Case Study // Foster Care: Dan


Chapter 6  Group Research Designs

What is Research Design?

Different Categorizations of Research Designs

Cross-sectional, pretest-posttest, or longitudinal

Exploratory, descriptive, or explanatory                  

Pre-experimental, Experimental, and Quasi-experimental Designs

Pre-experimental designs

Experimental designs

Quasi-experimental designs

Characteristics of a Good Research Design

Internal Validity External Validity

Practice Test


Video //  Applying Critical Thinking
Case Study // Medical Social Work: Annie


Chapter 7 Single-System Evaluation Designs

When are Single-System Evaluations Appropriate?

Elements Involved in Single-System Evaluation

Defining the outcome or dependent variable

Measuring the outcome or dependent variable

Defining the independent variable or intervention

Conducting the baseline phase

Conducting the intervention phase

Graphing and analyzing the data

Single-System Designs

B design

AB design

Successive intervention designs

Withdrawal designs

Multiple-baseline design

Strengths and Weaknesses of Single-System Evaluations

Ethical Issues

Practice Test


Video // Engagement, Assessment, Intervention, and Evaluation: Intervention
Case Study // Foster Care: Dan

Chapter 8 Qualitative Research Methods

The Case Study

Suitable topics

Strengths and limitations

Grounded Theory

Ethnographic Research

Cross-Cultural Research

Feminist Research

Goals and assumptions

A response to traditional research methods

Design characteristics


Participatory Action Research

Evaluation Criteria for Qualitative Research

Practice Test


Video // Diversity in Practice: Building Self-awareness 

Case Study // Community Practice: Golem, Albania

Chapter 9 Sampling Issues and Options



Universe, Theoretical Population, and Accessible Population

Sampling Frame




Sampling Error

Sampling Bias

Statistic and Parameter

Random Selection                               

Random Sample

Summary of Terms

Probability Sampling

Simple Random Sampling

Systematic Random Sampling

Stratified Sampling

Cluster Sampling

Nonprobability Sampling

Convenience Sampling

Purposive Sampling

Snowball Sampling

Quota Sampling

Selecting a Good Sample

Available Resources

Overall Design and Purpose of the Study

Statistical Analyses to be Used

The Importance of Sample Representativeness

Practice Test


Video // Ethical Practice: Recognizing Personal Values 

Case Study // Medical Social Work: Stephanie and Rose Doer


Chapter 10 Measurement Concepts and Issues

What is Measurement in Research?

Preparation for Measurement



Levels of Measurement





More on Levels of Measurement

Criteria for Good Measurement



Sources of Measurement Error

Practice Test


Video //  Policy Practice: Building Alliances

Case Study //  Domestic Violence: Mikki’s Story

Chapter 11 Methods for Acquiring Research Data

Secondary Data Analysis


Different Uses

Tasks Required



Oral Histories

Systematic Observations

Unstructured Observations      

Structured Observations


In-Person Interviews

Differences between Quantitative and Qualitative Interviews



Interviewing Protocol

Group Interviews

Focus Groups

Other Group Data Collection

Telephone Interviews

Electronic Communication



Video // Engagement, Assessment, Intervention, and Evaluation: Assessment       

Case Study // Mental Health: Dee

Chapter 12 Data Collection Instruments

Fixed-Alternative and Open-Ended Items

Composite Indexes and Scales

Composite Indexes


Using Existing Data Collection Instruments

Revising Existing Data Collection Instruments

Constructing New Data Collection Instruments

Issues in Development

Use of Self-Administered Data Collection Instruments


Supervised Administration

Practice Test


Video // Professional Identity: Professional Roles and Boundaries             

Case Study //  Mental Health: Alice and Eric

Chapter 13 Analyzing Data: The Data in Perspective

Preparing for Data Analysis

Data Analysis: An Overview

Qualitative Analysis

Quantitative Analysis

Uses of Statistical Analysis

Interpreting and Reporting the Results

Practice Test


Video // Engagement, Assessment, Intervention, and Evaluation: Assessment

Case Study // Community Practice: Organizing Social Work in the Republic of Armenia, Part I


Chapter 14 Disseminating Rresearch Findings

Reports and Monographs

Internal Correspondence and In-Service Training

Major Conferences

Other Professional Gatherings

Publication in Professional Journals

Practice Test


Video // Critical Thinking: Demonstrating Effective Oral and Written Communication

Case Study // Mental Health: Carletta


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