Knowledge, research and practice: a contentious relationship?
As well as claiming an independent knowledge base, social work draws
from a range of related social science disciplines including psychology,
social policy, sociology and law, within and between which there have
been conflicts. It is not surprising, therefore, that there are resulting
tensions between knowledge and practice in social work. Research, which
is the bridge between these, is also contentious and contested.
When consulted about Research Mindedness, practitioners cite a wide
range of factors that act as real barriers to the integration of knowledge
and practice. These are:
- theoretical - what knowledge counts?
- practical and logistical - how do you gain access to it?
When you think about your own situation, what constraints do you experience
(personal, professional or organisational) that impede the development
of stronger research-practice links?
|CONSTRAINTS TO Research Mindedness cited by practitioners
in a project sponsored by CCETSW London and S.E. to explore Research
|| Lack of confidence in interpreting and evaluating
|| Difficulty in keeping up with the volume of research
|| Difficulty in accessing research literature within the organisation
|| Absence of research culture within the organisation
|| Low status accorded to undertaking/updating research compared
to other work
|| No time allocation for practitioner research
|| Research associated with a positivist paradigm which many practitioners
view as incongruous with anti-discriminatory practice
||Increased procedural and managerial control over day to day practice
gives little encouragement to innovative and potentially challenging
Research Mindedness in practitioners
|| Research is seen as something done by experts
|| Previous research studies have alienated social work practitioners
|| Difficulty in relating research findings to individual service
|| Small practitioner research studies are undervalued in organisations
relative to larger quantitative studies