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.
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.