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  MAKING SENSE OF RESEARCH


   

Rejecting or ignoring research findings

Rejecting or undermining research

Another common technique, much beloved of researchers themselves, is to undermine or reject research studies by the deployment of contradictory findings. This is often a legitimate and necessary activity that properly tests and critiques findings. However this can also reflect academic nit-picking or battles between entrenched theoretical perspectives that prevents useful research being used to effect action or social policy. For practitioners it is the problem of balancing complex realities against the necessity of making decisions in the real world.

This resource suggests that researchers in the area of social care should take on a greater responsibility for enabling the translation of research findings into social policy and action. Conversely practitioners need to help shape the research agenda more closely to the needs of clients and practice as they experience them.

Ignoring research results

This is the most systematic and well-established technique of all for dealing with research. Just pretend it isn't there.

Drawing of cigarette in ashtray

The medical evidence about the dangers of smoking have been known for thirty years or more, with consequent deaths running into millions in this country and tens of millions worldwide. Commercial and political pressures have meant that this research has largely been ignored in terms of producing effective policies to eradicate or prevent smoking, apart from tokenistic health campaigns and warnings.

In social policy the research based conclusion espoused in the White Paper leading up to Criminal Justice Act 1993 that 'prison is an expensive way of making bad people worse' became transmogrified into the slogan 'prison works' by a later Home Secretary in the same government. During this period many researchers producing work for the Home Office were not able to get results published that did not accord with the political views of the government.

Similarly, some post- WW2 research on North American delinquency was financed by major corporations, such as automobile manufacturers. Not surprisingly, they wanted explanations for youthful offending that located it in individual/group pathological terms, rather than, for example, as a product of social breakdown wrought by industrialisation.

This is why the section in this resource on ‘Research in Context’ is essential reading.

     
       
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