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Being opportunistic

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 Mindedness.

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 have to:

Public lectures

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!

Local workshops

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.

Not forgetting….

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.

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