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Social Work Research Methods

Social Work Research Methods
Learning by Doing

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January 2019 | 544 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

Social Work Research Methods is a step-by-step journey through the process of conducting research. With over 30 years of teaching experience, author Reginald O. York helps readers discover how research can enable them to better serve clients in the field. Each chapter features a hands-on approach to producing research, with practical chapter exercises that reinforce methods mastery. Using their own data, students engage in realistic research activities and gain an appreciation for science-informed practice as a means of evaluating client outcomes.


About the Author
Part 1: The Fundamentals of Science and Social Work Research
Chapter 1: Science, Research, and Social Work Practice
How do we Know what we Know?  
Avoiding Errors in Decision Making  
Science as a Way of Knowing  
Science and Critical Thinking  
Social Work Practice and Science  
Common Sense and the Scientific Method  
Pseudoscience as an Alternative to Science  
Applying the Basic Principles of Science: Does the Full Moon Make Us Different?  
Chapter 2: Purposes and Processes of Social Work Research
Four Purposes of Social Work Research  
Quantitative and Qualitative Measurement  
The Research Process  
Chapter 3: Ethics and Cultural Competence in Social Work Research
Section A: Ethics in the Use of Human Subjects in Research  
Section B: Cultural Competence in Social Work Research  
Chapter 4: Evidence-based Practice
The Nature of Evidence and Evidence-based Practice  
Steps in the Process of Evidence-based Practice  
Critical Appraisal of Evidence-based Practice  
Part 2: Conducting Different Types of Social Work Research
Chapter 5: Conducting Research that Employs Social Surveys
The Nature of the Social Survey  
Types of Social Surveys  
When to Use Each Type of Survey  
Conducting Your Own Social Survey  
Composing Your Own Questionnaire  
Advantages and Disadvantages of the Survey  
Chapter 6: Conducting Research That Describes People: What Are the Traits That Describe the Good Manager?
Preliminary Step for Practice Exercise 2 for This Chapter  
Types of Social Work Research  
The Phases of Descriptive Research  
Chapter 7: Conducting Research That Explains Things: What Explains Life Satisfaction?
The Four Major Phases of Explanatory Research  
An Explanatory Research Study Example: Does Stress or Social Support Explain Life Satisfaction?  
Chapter Appendix: Questionnaire for Study of Life Satisfaction  
Chapter 8: Conducting Research that Evaluates Services
The Parts of the Evaluation System  
The Phases of Outcome Evaluation Research  
Research Example: Are the Services of the New Horizons Treatment Program Effective in the Reduction of Depression for Adult Clients?  
Chapter Appendix: Statistical Analysis of the Data for the New Horizons Treatment Program  
Chapter 9: Conducting Qualitative Research that Explores the Unknown
Exploratory Research and Qualitative Research Methods  
What Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches to Research Have in Common  
The Phases of Exploratory Research Employing Qualitative Research Methods  
Approaches to Qualitative Research  
Data Collection in Qualitative Research  
Data Analysis in Qualitative Research  
Chapter 10: Conducting Program Evaluations
What Does Your Agency Do to Evaluate Programs?  
The Nature of Program Evaluations  
Advantages of Program Evaluations  
Characteristics of Good Programs  
Finding Evidence for Human Service Programs  
Types of Program Evaluations  
The Logic Model as a Way of Portraying Critical Aspects of the Program Evaluation  
Some Qualitative Approaches for Program Evaluation  
Issues in Program Evaluation  
Part 3: Conducting Each Phase of Social Work Research
Chapter 11: Developing Your Knowledge Base and Intervention
Purpose and Knowledge as the Foundation for the Research Study  
The Literature Review for a Research Study  
Describing the Intervention or Program  
Preliminary Information for the Practice Exercises  
Chapter 12: Drawing Your Study Sample
The Study Sample and the Study Population  
Generalization of Study Results  
Sampling Error  
Sampling Elements, Sampling Frames, and Sampling Intervals  
Random Samples and Scientific Generalization  
Nonrandom Samples and Logical Generalization  
Chapter 13: Measuring Your Study Variables
Why Fret Over Measurement?  
The Nature of Measurement in Social Work Research  
Standardized Tools and Individualized Tools  
Measurement Error  
Reliability and Validity in Qualitative Measurement  
Securing the Tool for Measuring Your Study Variables  
Evaluating Measurement Tools  
Tips for Developing Your Own Measurement Tool  
Computing the Score for Your Scale  
Describing Your Measurement Tool  
Determining Practical Significance With Your Measurement Method  
Special Challenges of the Single-Subject Research Study  
Individualized Scales as an Option  
Chapter 14: Selecting a Research Design for a Group Evaluation Study
The Nature of Causation in Research  
Threats to Internal Validity  
What Threats Should Be of Special Concern in My Situation?  
Two General Types of Research Designs  
Group Research Designs  
Preexperimental Designs That Fail to Address Threats to Internal Validity  
Quasi-Experimental Designs That Address Causation Minimally  
Experimental Designs That Address Threats Optimally  
Summary of Group Research Designs  
Chapter 15: Selecting a Research Design for a Single Client
The Nature of the Single-Subject Research Study  
Single-Subject Designs that Fail to Address Maturation or History  
Single-Subject Designs that Address Maturation  
Single-Subject Designs That Address Both Maturation and History  
Data Analysis for Single-Subject Research  
Chapter 16: Analyzing Data and Drawing Conclusions
Using Descriptive Statistics to Describe People  
Using Inferential Statistic to Test Your Hypothesis in Explanatory Research  
Questions You Must Answer to Find Your Statistic in Explanatory Research  
Finding Your Statistic in Explanatory Research  
Interpreting Data in Explanatory Research  
Using Inferential Statistics to Test Your Hypothesis When You Are Evaluating Practice  
Presenting Your Study Conclusions  
Chapter Appendix: Instructions for Using an Internet Website to Analyze Data  
Chapter 17: Analyzing Qualitative Data
An Overview of Qualitative Data Analysis  
Narrative Analysis  


Instructor Resource Site

Free online resources for instructors accompany this text on a password-protected Instructor Resource Site.

  • Test banks provide a diverse range of pre-written options as well as the opportunity to edit any question and/or insert personalized questions to effectively assess students’ progress and understanding.
  • Editable, chapter-specific PowerPoint® slides offer complete flexibility for creating a multimedia presentation.

"This book provides hands-on knowledge to student learners in a way that grounds their classroom learning with professional practice expectations."

Dione Moultrie King
University of Alabama at Birmingham

"This is a research book for social workers that has social work cases and explains in detail the applicability to research situations. Research is explained in a simple way for social work students."

Claudia Moreno
Dominican College

"A solid text that addresses the goals of the course and competencies in the field."

Julie Schroeder
Jackson State University
Key features
  • A “learn by doing” approach woven throughout the text helps students apply knowledge to practice.
  • A three-part structure introduces the fundamentals of research methods, the different types of social work research, and the use of data analysis for evaluation of social work practice.
  • Chapter-opening vignettes illustrate the value of chapter content to the practicing social worker.
  • Chapter-ending practice exercises provide opportunities to apply chapter knowledge and gain a better understanding of research competencies.
  • Practical guidelines for data analysis show students how to use the Internet to analyze data with simple step-by-step instructions.
  • Discussion questions provide opportunities to spark class discussions and help students reflect on critical concepts.
  • Chapter tests, lists of key learnings, and glossaries at the end of chapters serve as convenient tools for reviewing key concepts and definitions.

For instructors

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