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Social Science Research and

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1 Social Science Research and
The Writer’s Handbook: A Guide for Social Workers Chapter 3 Social Science Research and Evidenced-Based Practice ©2014 The Writer’s Toolkit, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

2 What is research? Research is an organized attempt to answer a specific question: The goal of scientific research is to explain, predict, and/or control phenomena. Valid and reliable research guides social workers and other professionals to provide more effective services.

3 Council on Social Work Education (CSWE)
2.1.6—Engage in research-informed practice and practice-informed research. Social workers use practice experience to inform research, employ evidence-based interventions, evaluate their own practice, and use research findings to improve practice, policy, and social service delivery

4 Social workers: Use practice experience to inform scientific inquiry (research) Use research evidence to inform and guide practice (CSWE, 2010)

5 Collecting and Conducting Research
Observation Involves directly observing or watching to better understand a situation or circumstances. Quantitative Research Collects numerical data to explain, predict, and/or guide events, issues, and behavior. Qualitative Research Collects narrative data (stories) to gain insight into events, issues, and behaviors.

6 Quantitative Research
Quantitative research uses numbers to interpret information (data): The results of experiments, polls, and questionnaires that include a large number of people can be generalized from one population to another. Some quantitative research involves predictability: Did an event happen by chance or does a causal relationship exist?

7 Hypothesis Researchers use probability theory (a branch of statistics) to test a hypothesis to determine if a causal relationship exists. A hypothesis is an explanation that can be tested. To form a hypothesis, start with a question and then turn it into a statement.

8 From Question to Hypothesis
Is nicotine replacement more effective than antidepressants in helping smokers stop smoking? Hypothesis: Nicotine replacement is more effective than antidepressants in helping smokers stop smoking.

9 Null Hypothesis Probability theory
Research can support the probability that something was unlikely to happen due to chance . . . But research cannot prove the cause. Therefore, to conduct research, nullify the hypothesis. As a null hypothesis, our example could be written in either of two ways.

10 From Hypothesis to Null Hypothesis
Nicotine replacement is more effective than antidepressants in helping smokers stop smoking. Null Hypothesis: Nicotine replacement is not more effective than antidepressants in helping smokers stop smoking. Nicotine replacement is equally effective as anti- depressants in helping smokers stop smoking.

11 The Scientific Method Ask a question.
Do background research—review the literature. Construct a hypothesis. Develop a null hypothesis. Test your hypothesis by conducting a survey or using a questionnaire. Analyze your data and draw conclusions. Communicate your results at conferences, workshops, and through publications.

12 Social Science Research
Studies our societies, communities, families, and individual people. Helps us better understand what influences thoughts and behaviors. Helps us better understand cultures and belief systems. There are some differences between physical and social science research because of the human element.

13 Conducting Qualitative Research
Describes and evaluates to give a more detailed picture of the current state of designated topic. Examples: Take a poll to determine what issues voters will support in the next election. Interview people who have the same experience – for example, people who were in the foster care system. Conduct a focus group about a particular topic.

14 Reliability and Validity
Reliability and validity are basic to understanding the quality of research. Reliability relates to consistency of measure: If the same study is repeated several times and the outcomes are the same, then it is more likely to be reliable. Validity refers to whether the study examines what it is intended to examine: Are the participants and methods of research relevant to the hypothesis?

15 Credible Social Science Research
All research has bias, based on the perspectives and cultural assumptions of the researchers. Research funded by a particular source may represent the interest of the funder; however: Credible researchers do not intentionally take a position and then seek proof to confirm it.

16 Credible social science researchers:
Ask a question. Review the assumptions and methods of the study in an attempt to reduce bias. Then evaluate the evidence–the data is utilized to support the conclusions. Social science research does not prove or disprove: it either confirms a hypothesis or does not support a hypothesis.

17 Action Research Here are the four basic steps of scientific inquiry that guide the process of action research: Identifying a problem or question Conducting a meeting or brainstorming session to gain information about the problem or question Analyzing research data or information Taking action to rectify the problem or illuminate the question

18 Surveys, Focus Groups, and Interviews
The most popular type of qualitative research relates to asking people their experience with an issue, examples include: surveys focus groups interviews

19 Displaying Research charts graphs tables
You are displaying research when you put someone else’s words in quotation marks or when you turn complicated data into: charts graphs tables

20 Graphics Bar charts Pie charts Line charts Flow charts
Organizational charts Tables Which type of graphics have you used and what purpose did it serve?

21 Plagiarism Plagiarism relates to taking another person’s words and using them verbatim or using another’s ideas without crediting the source. Plagiarism is unethical. Can you give examples of when a person has plagiarized and gotten caught? Besides being unethical, what are other reasons to avoid plagiarism?

22 What to Credit (Or: How to avoid plagiarism.)
Direct quotations and paraphrase Facts that are not widely known or assertions that are arguable Judgments, opinions, and claims of others Statistics, charts, tables, and graphs from any source Help provided by friends, instructors, or others

23 Applying Research We use research every day—research becomes meaningful when findings are applied. What types of research have you applied in your life, your studies, or your practice? What kinds of changes have you made based on what you learned through research? What type of research do you find to be the most valuable?

24 Questions

25 Throughout your process: Separate composing from editing

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