Research Design for Social Work and the Human Services

Research Design for Social Work and the Human Services

Research Design for Social Work and the Human Services

Research Design for Social Work and the Human Services

Synopsis

Research Design for Social Work and the Human Services integrates a range of research techniques into a single epistemological framework and presents a balanced approach to the teaching of research methods in the "helping professions." Jeane W. Anastas begins with a discussion of the different philosophical perspectives within which social research occurs and continues with problem formulation, research design, and methodological issues influencing data collection, analysis, and dissemination. She presents both fixed (quantitative) and flexible (qualitative) methods of research, granting legitimacy, value, utility, and relevance to both styles of inquiry. Utilizing complete case studies to illustrate different methodological approaches, Research Design for Social Work and the Human Services integrates material on women and people of color, and draws attention to the ways racism, heterosexism, sexism, and classism affect the conceptualization and conduct of research. Anastas not only exposes these biases but actively addresses the experiences, needs, and concerns of clients of both genders and different races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, cultures, and classes.

Excerpt

Since the publication of this book, interest in many of the issues it set out to address has grown substantially. Since it went to press in 1993, there has been an explosion of writing about the uses of qualitative research and evaluation in social work and the helping professions. This literature has indeed been advancing us in our sophistication in both doing and evaluating this kind of inquiry (see, for example, Denzin & Lincoln 1994; Drisko 1997; Gilgun, Daly, & Handel 1992; Morse & Field 1995; Padgett 1998; Reissman 1994; Sherman & Reid 1994). One major reason for the revision of the book is to incorporate this new work into an enriched discussion of flexible method research.

Even case studies, one of the oldest forms of inquiry in the helping professions, have been gaining renewed respect (Gilgun 1994). One way in which the discussion of flexible method research has been enriched in this edition is through the inclusion of an entirely new chapter on traditional case studies (chapter 4). This content parallels in some ways the existing chapter on the application of fixed methods of research to cases in chapter 8 on single-system designs. It may be that in future editions it will be possible to further differentiate among kinds and styles of flexible method, or qualitative, research in useful ways, resulting in more chapters on these design types.

Very recently, realism, the epistemological framework advanced in this book, has been explored and endorsed by other writers in social work and related fields (Kazi 1998; Pawson & Tilley 1997). Further reading of my own in the philosophy of science has only strengthened my conviction about the usefulness of this position as an inclusive yet thoroughly scientific standpoint from which to conduct practice-relevant research (Anastas 1998; Klee 1997; Orange 1995; Papineau 1996). These developments confirm the importance of continuing to strengthen and further develop our understanding of these important and emerging epistemological ideas.

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