Being research minded has become an essential skill for students and practitioners in social work and social care. The ability to assess and use research to inform your work helps to ensure that those you work with get the best provision possible. For social work students and practitioners, research mindedness is integral to demonstrating the ways that your knowledge and practice are integrated and built into the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF) and other forms of professional appraisal.
This learning resource has been developed to allow you to get a quick overview of research mindedness, and also to explore the topic in more depth. For the quick overview, read the entry page in each section. You can then explore as required by reading further into the themed sections.
Aims of the resourceOpen
In an increasingly complex policy and practice world, social care and social work staff are required not only to provide high quality services, but also to base them on prior evidence of effectiveness (DH 2000) and value for money (Francis and Byford 2011). This evidence should be based on sound and reliable research, and staff must possess the ability and knowledge to appraise its quality and put it to use appropriately. This requires that staff view policy and practice issues in a particular way - they need to be 'research minded'.
With the above in mind, this learning resource aims to:
- help you understand what being research minded means
- provide you with a range of resources for improving your research mindedness
- support you in developing research mindedness among fellow students, colleagues and other stakeholder partners or collaborators.
How does the resource work?Open
Most conventional learning resources - textbooks, open learning materials, lecture notes, etc. - are designed to be used in a linear way, that is, by starting at a particular point, proceeding through a planned learning experience (or sequence of them), and finishing at another fixed point. This resource has been designed instead to function in two complementary ways, since it may have different purposes for its two distinct audiences, students and practitioners.
For students on social work and social care qualifying courses the resource is intended to be used in pursuit of the specific knowledge and skills required for research literacy, as laid down by the regulatory bodies for social work education and training and supported through the PCF. This includes an initial understanding of the connection between research and practice, challenged and developed through reflection within your practice placements.
You may wish to use the resource in a linear mode, starting with the section Why be research minded?. Of course, as a student you can also choose to browse the resource, using it as a source of ideas, concepts and examples about research mindedness.
For staff working in practice settings, who are likely to have already acquired some experience of using research to inform policy and practice decisions, the resource is more likely to be of value when used in a non-linear way. Indeed, in developing it we have assumed that the potentially wide range of social work and social care staff who might visit the resource may each have very different reasons for doing so, ranging from simple curiosity, to continuing professional development, to a particular need for specific information.
So, for its practice audience this resource does not have a set of objectives based on achieving specific learning outcomes, but is intended to encourage you, as a professional worker, to extend your knowledge of research mindedness. A rigorous and systematic exploration of the concept and its application will help you to engage with the development framework set out in the PCF.
We have provided a suggested learning route,with brief descriptions of the main sections and suggestions for ways to work through them. There is also a quiz to check what you already know about research mindedness: Are you research minded?