Relationship between research and practice: a qualitative study with Portuguese social workers

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Abstract

This paper focuses on the relationship between research and practice insocial work, particularly in the understanding the motivations and the placeassigned by the social workers on this relationship. The main study shaftsare: 1) constraints to investigate in daily work; 2) potentialities of such research; 3) motivations to research.In this exploratory study we opted for qualitative methodology. Data collection was conducted in 2011, with the application of semi-structuredinterviews to eleven Portuguese social workers with BSW and MSW in SocialWork and a minimum of three years of practice.All interviewed social workers consider that research is one of the dimensions of Social Work, but the relationship established between researchand practice was covered from different nuances, from those who claim toestablish this relationship to those that punctually did (on the MSW).Social workers pointed out more the constraints (i.e. paucity of time in dailywork) than the potentialities of relationship between research and practice,but the potentiality repeatedly enunciated from all of interviewers is the key:improve practice. Improving practice, its the main reason and motivationthat led the social workers to do research, but they highlight that it is necessary create a set of conditions that allow and encourage professionals to doitq, particularly in organizations where they work.The interviewees pointed out reasons to explain the lack relationship between research and practice: 1) historical reasons; 2) the separation betweenscientists and practitioners; 3) small practitioner investment in postgraduate training, particularly in social work in order to contribute to increasedknowledge in this area; 4) lack of critical thinking; 5) focus in daily work; 6)routinized practice.It is fundamental in Portugal a higher investment in the discussion of the relationship between research and practice that includes more research aboutthis theme, and an evaluation about the integration of research and practice in social work education. This preoccupation in the training was refer inthe interviews like a key element in encouraging an effective relationshipbetween research and practice, and this requires: 1) investing in postgraduate studies in Social Work; 2) encourage the importance of research inSocial Work (since the BSW); 3) create or promote an investigative culture instudents/practitioners; 4) break with the dichotomy between practitionersand academics; 5) bring together the academic and professional spaces(organizations).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication6th European Conference for Social Work Research
Subtitle of host publicationReflective social work practices in contemporary societies dialogues and new pathways between praxis and research
Place of PublicationLisboa
PublisherUniversidade Católica Portuguesa
Pages420-421
ISBN (Print)9789899948624
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Event6th European Conference for Social Work Research. Reflective social work practices in contemporary societies: dialogues and new pathways between praxis and research - Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Lisboa, Portugal
Duration: 30 Mar 20161 Apr 2016
Conference number: 6

Conference

Conference6th European Conference for Social Work Research. Reflective social work practices in contemporary societies
Country/TerritoryPortugal
CityLisboa
Period30/03/161/04/16

Keywords

  • Social Workers
  • Research
  • Practice

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