Why Research Methods Are Critically Important to Social Work Research



Social work research investigates psychological issues, preventative interventions, and community, policy and service issues, for the benefit of the individual, the community they live within, policy makers, educators, clinicians and social work consumers in general. Social work research utilizes a variety of methods to extend understandings of individuals and groups within a society, and sometimes across cultures (Morris, 2005). Research methods are based on scientific inquiry that can be represented by a scientific method. This is a set of procedures used to investigate a research question to acquire new knowledge about the world, or to correct and integrate previous knowledge, using observable and measurable data, which is subject to the laws of reasoning and logic (Morris, 2005). Research methods are employed to control for extraneous variables that may influence the results of measurements and to guard against investigator bias, or the subjective bias of the participant (Morris, 2005). The paper aims to identify reasons why the social work researcher should critically reflect on research findings that result from their studies. Firstly, two important methodological issues shall be highlighted in regards to reliability and validity of a study. Second, the advantages and disadvantages of qualitative and quantitative research methods shall be provided, as well as providing an example of each method type. Next, ethical and power issues relevant to social work research shall be discussed. Finally, a conclusion shall synthesize the main points of the paper that indicate the importance of research methods to the social work researcher.