The pressures of day to day practice often make it hard to prioritise
the time to be research-minded. As discussed in the section on changing
practice, issues may also work against innovation in the work environment.
Being encouraged to think about research perspectives in your work does
not always have to mean lots of photocopying of articles to read. There
are a range of different activities and resources to support Research
You are encouraged not only to be systematic but also opportunistic
in thinking about research.
The link between research mindedness and learning organisations is discussed
in the section on 'Research
in the care environment'. It has been acknowledged that the successful
transference of ideas is often influenced by a particular individual
or event. With this in mind you are reminded of the access which you
Attending conferences can be an expensive business nowadays but luckily
local colleges and universities still provide a number of free lectures.
Annual lectures usually attract speakers of national renown, who are
often doing very interesting research.
If getting hold of articles is a problem you might want to turn up early
and use the lecture venue’s library - you may not be able to take
materials out on loan but you can still read and copy information.
This is where access to internal newsletters can help - to enable you
to access diaries of events.
Most university websites will have listings of free or low-cost events
open to the public. You may find lectures not only in social work departments
but also in education, psychology, medicine, law, etc, that may be of
interest. Be open-minded!
Many voluntary groups have had to learn creative ways of attracting
audiences to their AGMs. This often leads to them having interesting
free or low-cost workshops and speakers at their events. Community forums
can also be a good way of accessing grass-roots policy perspectives,
which are likely to inform the work of other agencies and lives of service
users. They are also good for networking and finding out what other
people are doing. Similarly inter-agency and cross-sectoral fora assist
in the dissemination of research and sharing of cross-cultural perspectives.
Television and radio
Whilst mainstream media has been accused of dumbing down it is also
seen as one of the routes for knowledge to support the Learning Age.
The ethos of lifelong learning has rekindled the notion of community
based learning and widening participation to learning opportunities.
In addition to credible documentaries, dramas based on real-life events
and news items, there are a wide range of educational programmes. With
the aid of a video/audiotape/DVD player you can easily access the programmes
which support the Open University's courses, and which are often informed
by contemporary research. Digital and satellite television has widened
the channels available, some of which reach out to minority or specialist
audiences and which enable you to access a range of perspectives not
always available on mainstream channels.
In addition, the BBC and other television channels now have extensive
websites that not only cover entertainment news but also include articles,
information (sometimes research-based) on a wide range of social, economic
and political issues. Radio programmes missed at the time of the original
broadcast can be replayed online. The digital age is an exciting one
for widening access to information and knowledge.
All the traditional outlets for materials like local and agency libraries;
or second-hand bookshops if your agency does not have such a facility,
or it is hard to access.