Research Methods for Social Workers
Research Methods for Social Workers (2nd ed.), by Samuel S. Faulkner & Cynthia A. Faulkner, Lyceum Books, Chicago, 2014, 256 pages, $54.95.
As a doctoral student in social work, I’m privileged to both instruct and enroll in social science research courses. During this process of training to become an academic, I’m also engaged in a variety of research projects. These experiences have stoked my interest in the generation of knowledge, offering fascinating opportunities to design and implement studies, analyze data, and consider various venues to support dialogue and dissemination of findings.
The second edition of this text by the Drs. Faulkner, published in 2014, marks a seminal advancement in training related to social work research. Updating content from the premier edition, CSWE Core Competencies, self-assessments, and suggestions for the cultivation of practice-informed empiricism are integrated throughout the 13 chapters. Whereas many of the profession’s research training publications primarily read like textbooks, the style, tone, and content of this resource are differently engaging and informative. In fact, students and practitioners alike may discover that this new release resembles a practice manual, an attribute that is likely to reduce the hesitation often accompanying studies of research. Carefully crafted and concise treatments of literature reviews, inferential and descriptive statistics, and research proposals further enhance applicability.
Despite its many achievements, a third revision of the text may address some of the limitations. Absent from the book are more critical considerations of key elements in the research process. For instance, the ways in which social science theories can inform the design of studies and analyses of data need to be considered. Qualitative and quantitative processes are occasionally framed to imply a mutual exclusivity, with an implicit privileging of the latter paradigm; unfortunately, this duality prevents a more dynamic discussion of mixed methods research. Mostly absent from the text, also, are reviews of timely topics of great importance to data analyses, including the centrality of mediation and moderation and strategies for exploring alternate approaches like structural equation modeling. Although these shortcomings are unlikely to impede the orientation of new trainees in social work research, those committed to more advanced learning may need to acquire supplemental materials to accompany their studies.
Well written and with tremendous readability, this latest text by Drs. Faulkner and Faulkner makes an invaluable contribution to the development of new knowledge related to practice-informed research and evidence-based practice. Students, practitioners, and scholars in social work and allied social sciences are certain to be challenged by and appreciate the rich ideas discoverable within these pages.
Reviewed by Jeff T. Steen, LCSW, Ph.D. candidate, New York University, Silver School of Social Work.