Research and Practice

Part Two: Social Work Research and Practice

In part two, we will define social work research and social work practice.

Social Work Research

Social work research is an original investigation that is undertaken to gain knowledge and understanding. Social work research is driven by a concern with social justice, inclusion, and social change. A range of methods are used in social work research and linkages are made between the research method and the research questions in the contexts and practices of social work research. Diverse stakeholders are involved in the research process and in managing the complex power relationships.

  • Theory, methodology, ethics and values, and pedagogy as they apply to social work
  • Interdisciplinary research and links with other disciplines such as sociology, development studies, health studies, history, law, social policy, and other fields
  • Linkages with stakeholders, professionals, servicer users and others
  • Policy making processes, practice, governance, service design, inter-professional relationships
  • Comparative research and research into international institutions, policy and practice
  • Analysis of administrative models in social work services
  • Assessment of policy development and legislative impacts
  • Evaluation of the implementation of social work programs and initiatives
  • Assessment and development of social work education at all levels (BSW & MSW)
  • Understanding how social work theories can be used in social work practice, and the development of social work practice frameworks
  • Provides a better understanding of human experience
  • Assists in determining the effectiveness of practice
  • Supports social workers in making sound decisions based on evidence
  • Helps social workers to determine the best course of action
  • Confirms that what they are doing is effective and that positive change is occurring

Social Work Practice

According to the Canadian Association of Social Workers (2020), social work is a practice-based profession and academic discipline that involves various roles. These roles include clinical work, advocacy, community development, policy development, leadership, supervision of social workers and social work students, and research and evaluation.

“Social work focuses on the person within their environment and recognizes the importance of family, community, culture, legal, social, spiritual, and economic influences that impact the well-being of individuals, families, groups, and communities” (CASW, 2020, p. 1). To read more about the scope of social work practice in Canada, click below.