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Social Work Research Methods

Social Work Research Methods
Learning by Doing

First Edition

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

Reginald O. York

Reginald O. York, PhD, is a professor in the School of Social Work at the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Previously, he served on the social work faculties of East Carolina University and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. He is the author of Human Service Planning (The University of North Carolina Press, 1982), Building Basic Competencies in Social Work Research (Allyn and Bacon, 1997), Conducting Social Work Research (Allyn and Bacon, 1998), Evaluating Social Work Practice (Pearson, 2009), and Statistics for Human Service Evaluation (Sage Publications, 2017). Prior to his entry into academia, he served as a foster... More About Author

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ISBN: 9781506387192

SAGE Research Methods is a research methods tool created to help researchers, faculty and students with their research projects. SAGE Research Methods links over 175,000 pages of SAGE’s renowned book, journal and reference content with truly advanced search and discovery tools. Researchers can explore methods concepts to help them design research projects, understand particular methods or identify a new method, conduct their research, and write up their findings. Since SAGE Research Methods focuses on methodology rather than disciplines, it can be used across the social sciences, health sciences, and more.