Writing about social work in New Zealand

It’s a sign of the health of our profession that it is engaged in research on its own practice and on the diverse problems faced by our service users and communities. While it might seem that research and publication of results is the sole job of academics from schools of social work , in fact a great deal of research is carried out by practitioners engaged in MSW and occasionally PhD research. A smaller contribution is made by practitioners in the field doing small scale projects within their busy jobs, but such projects are rarely disseminated beyond their own workplace.
In my study of continuing professional education in New Zealand, the social workers I interviewed were very aware of the significant of research-informed practice for social work. While New Zealand social workers were positive about the ideals of social work research, their enthusiasm was tempered by issues of confidence, practical considerations and financial constraints. Social workers believed that research was vital to ensure respect for the profession in contestable spaces, especially for practitioners in the health sector. You can read an article about the research (free) here There are many challenges to be faced in terms of growing a very healthy research culture in New Zealand social work. One is to persuade more MSW graduates to publish from their thesis. I’m clear that this is an ethical responsibility not an option. Many people helped with your research projects, whether you conducted a survey or carried out interviews. They gave their time and ideas to you and there is an ethical and professional obligation for you to report your findings, so we can grow that pool of local knowledge. I encourage you to get that thesis off the shelf and write an article. Writing about your research supports our local journal and ensures that not all findings of local research are invisible or hidden behind “pay walls”, where the article can’t be accessed free by practitioners. There are some legal ways around this latter problem and I have set up a blog to encourage social work researchers to make their work available. I’ve also been exploring ideas about using social media to develop ideas, disseminate research and stimulate more intellectual debate about social work. My Research in New Zealand blog
Liz Beddoe @BeddoeE

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