Forging new relationships?
Despite the difficulties associated with promoting Research Mindedness,
various developments at national and local levels represent new links
between research and practice. These contribute to sometimes heated
debates about what constitutes evidence for practice. This process is
part of a larger debate about the nature of social work as a professional
activity and academic discipline as exemplified in the ESRC
sponsored seminar series, Theorising
Social Work Research.
Many policy initiatives are now informed to a varying degree by research.
- A strategic approach to research dissemination (NICE,
- Research programmes which focus research in one area albeit supporting
a wide range of research projects with diverse research methodologies
Programme on Social Stability and Exclusion).
- Policy initiatives informed by research (Valuing
People A New Strategy for Learning Disability for the 21st Century).
- A sharper focus on mapping need, practice outcomes and evaluating
services and interventions (Sure Start;
implementation of Quality Protects).
- The establishment of consortia to ensure easier access to research
findings and to involve practitioners in research agendas. (Research
Making Research Count; Centre
for Evidence-Based Social Services).
- At a local and individual level NVQ, Social Work Degree, PQ and
Advanced level candidates are demonstrating creative engagement with
research projects and findings to develop policy and practice for
the benefit of service users.
Gerry, a training officer with a Social Services Department,
took a Masters in Professional Studies and for his dissertation
undertook research in to the involvement of service users in the
assessment of students on placement as part of their DipSW programme.
- Helped him with the attainment of an academic award and provided
evidence towards an AA award
- Promoted the importance of consumer participation in research
and policy development
- Contributed to the revision of policies and procedures within
the DipSW programme.
Inevitably, discussion about Research Mindedness in social work cannot
be separated from its social and political context. Keeping in mind
the question 'Who is the research for?' is central to ensuring that
the interests of service users are recognised. At a time of continuing
change in social work and social care, it is imperative that Research
Mindedness is allied with explicit values of social justice and inclusion.