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Defining research mindedness

To work and study effectively, practitioners and students require a good grasp of relevant literature and research. In recent years there have been moves to embed 'research mindedness' and 'research literacy' into social work research governance, education, training and practice.

For this resource we have taken a definition of research-mindedness from a project sponsored by the former CCETSW London and South East (refs. below) in which practitioners, social work educators, external assessors and students were consulted about their views on the constituent elements of Research Mindedness. The following elements were identified:

  • a faculty for critical reflection informed by knowledge and research;
  • an ability to use research to inform practice which counters unfair discrimination, racism, poverty, disadvantage and injustice, consistent with core social work values;
  • an understanding of the process of research and the use of research to theorise from practice.

Since the project was undertaken the terms research-mindedness and research literacy have grown in common usage. A range of organisations have produced networking, paper and web-based services to support research-mindedness amongst staff and social work students. Many of these are detailed in the website index of this resource.

The publication of the Research Governance Framework in 2001 was an important step forward aimed at continuous improvements and the reduction of unacceptable variations in research practice across health and social care. It should help to enhance the contribution of research to the partnership between services and science. It documents standards, details the responsibilities of the key people involved in research, outlines delivery systems and describes local and national monitoring systems.


Barn, R. and Harrison, C. (1995). 'Keeping Research in Mind': Child Care Research Mindedness at DipSW, PQ and AA levels. CCETSW: London and South East.

Harrison, C. and Humphreys, C. (1997). Keeping Research in Mind: Standards of Research Mindedness in CCETSW's Award Programmes. CCETSW: London and South East.

Harrison, C. and Humphreys, C. (1997). Keeping Research in Mind: Final Report and Recommendations for Future Developments in Social Work Education and Training. CCETSW: London and South East.

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