The following article selection includes a set of articles that illustrate key concepts which are introduced throughout Fundamentals of Social Work Research.
Article Review Questions
The questions below are designed to guide your reading of research articles.
- What is the social condition under study? What is the basic research question, or problem? Try to state it in just one sentence.
- What prior literature was reviewed? Was it relevant to the research problem? To the theoretical framework? Does the literature review appear to be adequate? Are you aware of (or can you locate) any important omitted studies? Is the literature review up to date?
- What were the independent and dependent variables in the hypothesis or hypotheses? Did these variables reflect the theoretical concepts as intended? What direction of association was hypothesized? Were any other variables identified as potentially important?
- What were the major concepts in the research? Did the author(s) provide clear and complete nominal definitions for each concept? What are the nominal definitions? Were some concepts treated as unidimensional that you think might best conceptualized as multidimensional?
- Was a sample of the entire population of elements used in the study? Was a probability or nonprobability sampling method used? What specific type of sampling method was used? How was the sample recruited and selected? How large is the sample? Do you think the sample was generally representative of the population from which it was drawn? How could you evaluate the likely generalizability of the findings to other populations?
- Was an experimental, single-subject, survey, participant observation, or some other research design used? How does the author describe the design? How well was this design suited to the research question posed and/or the specific hypotheses tested? Why do you suppose the author(s) chose this particular design?
- How were data collected? What were the advantages and disadvantages of the particular data collection method(s) used?
- What did the author(s) find? Are the statistical techniques used appropriate for the level of measurement of the variables? How clearly were statistical and/or qualitative data presented and discussed? Were the results substantively important?
- Did the author(s) adequately represent the findings in the discussion and/or conclusion sections? Were conclusions well grounded in the findings? Can you think of any other interpretations of the findings?
- Did the study seem consistent with current ethical standards? Were any trade-offs made between different ethical guidelines? Was an appropriate balance struck between adherence to ethical standards and use of the most rigorous scientific practices?
Intersecting Feminist Theory and Ethnography in the Context of Social Work Research.
Qualitative Social Work 8: 143-160, 2009
This article explores the relationships among social work, feminist theory and ethnography in the context of social work research.
The Effects of an Abstinence-Based Sex Education Program on Middle School Students' Knowledge and Beliefs.
Research on Social Work Practice 9: 10-24, 1999.
Arnold, Elizabeth Mayfield, Thomas E. Smith, Dianne F. Harrison, and David Springer
Quasi-experimental design to evaluate the effectiveness of a program designed to prevent teenage pregnancy.
Evaluating the Effectiveness of Cognitive-Behavioral Treatment of Residual Symptoms and Impairment in Schizophrenia.
Research on Social Work Practice 14: 112-120, 2004.
Bradshaw, William and David Roseborough
Used a multiple baseline design to evaluate the effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral therapy in reducing psychiatric symptoms and improving psychological functioning as well as a pretest-posttest design to determine goal attainment and self-concept. The article exemplifies systematic replication.
Adolescent Dating Violence Victimization and Psychological Well-Being.
Journal of Adolescent Research 18: 664-681, 2003.
Callahan, Michelle R., Richard M. Tolman, and Daniel G. Saunders
The authors examined the relationship between dating violence and depression, anxiety, self-esteem, post-traumatic stress, and overall life satisfaction through the use of self-administered questionnaires.
Risk Behaviors Among Young Mexican American Gang-Associated Females: Sexual Relations, Partying, Substance Use, and Crime.
Journal of Adolescent Research 18: 90-106, 2003.
Cepeda, Alice and Avelardo Valdez
Use of focus groups and life history interviews with female adolescents to explore their participation in risky behaviors and the consequences of these behaviors.
Thoughts on the Use of Knowledge in Social Work Practice
Research on Social Work Practice 18: 278-284, 2008
Cnaan, Ram A., and Melissa E. Dichter
In this article, the authors briefly review the field of social work in the United States during the past 100 years and discuss how the quest for the status of a profession forced the emphasis on empirical research.
A Brief Report: Factors Influencing African American Youth Decisions to Stay in School.
Journal of Adolescent Research 17: 223-234, 2002.
Davis, Larry E., Sharon Johnson, Julie Miller Cribbs, and Jeanne Saunders
This article is a good example of the use of theory to examine a social issue. The authors evaluate the degree to which the theory of planned behavior contributes to understanding the decision to stay in school or to drop-out of school.
The Promise of Random-Assignment Social Experiments for Understanding Well-Being and Behavior
Current Sociology 51: 529-541, 2003
Duncan, Greg J., and Katherine A. Magnuson
This article explains the utility of random-assignment experiments for sociological and developmental studies.
Cultural Diversity and Populations at Risk: Social Work Education and Practice.
Home Health Care Management Practice 17: 45-47, 2004
Dyeson, Timothy B.
The purpose of this article is to inform the reader how the social work profession prepares its practitioners to serve those who experience discrimination and oppression.
Conduct Problems and Peer Rejection in Childhood: A Randomized Trial of the Making Choices and Strong Families Programs.
Research on Social Work Practice 14: 313-324, 2004.
Fraser, Mark, Steven H. Day, Maeda J. Galinsky, Vanessa G. Hodges, and Paul R. Smokowski
The authors examined the efficacy of a program to improve social skills and reduce peer rejection using a randomized experimental design. This study is a good example of both the use of theory to design an intervention and the steps to evaluate the intervention.
Problem-Solving Therapy for Depression in Adults: A Systematic Review.
Research on Social Work Practice 18:117-131, 2008.
Gellis, Zvi D. and Bonnie Kenaley
A systematic review of research evidence using the standards set by the Cochrane Collaborative.
Randomized Controlled Trial of Problem-Solving Therapy for Minor Depression in Home Care.
Research on Social Work Practice 18: 596-606, 2008.
Gellis, Zvi D., Jean McGinty, Lynda Tierney, Cindy Jordan, Jean Burton, and Elizabeth Misener
This study tests the effectiveness of problem-solving therapy to reduce depressive symptomatology using a randomized control group.
Understanding Diversity Through Social and Community Inquiry: An Action-Research Study.
Journal of Teacher Education 56: 367-381, 2005
Hyland, Nora E., and Susan E. Noffke
This article describes a portion of a long-term, action-research project investigating the teaching of an elementary social studies methods course for preservice teachers from a social justice framework.
Mothering under Difficult Circumstances: Challenges to Working with Battered Women.
Affilia 22: 23-38, 2007.
Krane, Julia and Linda Davies
The researchers use participant observation and interviews to examine the role of motherhood and the emotional complexities and challenges faced by battered women.
A Meta-Analysis of Father Involvement in Parent Training
Research on Social Work Practice 18: 97-106, 2008.
Lundahl, Brad W., Derrik Tollefson, Heather Risser, and M. Christine Lovejoy
A meta-analysis of 26 studies to determine: (a) whether the involvement of the father in parent training is related to improved outcomes in the child's behavior and (b) whether mothers and fathers benefit equally from parent training.
The Future of Evidence in Evidence-based Practice: Who Will Answer the Call for Clinical Relevance?
Journal of Social Work 6: 101-115, 2006
This article considers factors important to the broad-scale adoption of an evidence-based approach to social work practice (EBP).
Preparing Social Work Practitioners to Use Evidence-Based Practice: A Comparison of Experiences From an Implementation Project
Research on Social Work Practice 19: 613-627, 2009
Manuel, Jennifer I., Edward J. Mullen, Lin Fang, Jennifer L. Bellamy, and Sarah E. Bledsoe
This article describes results from a project that sought to enhance practitioner use of EBP by using a supportive strategy including training and technical assistance through a partnership between university-based researchers and three social work agencies.
Using Cumulative Risk to Screen for Mental Health Problems in Child Welfare.
Research on Social Work Practice 18: 144-159, 2008.
McCrae, Julie S. and Richard P. Barth
Using data from the National Survey of Child and Adolescent Well-being, the study examines whether caregiver reports of problems such as substance abuse, depression, and domestic violence can be used to identify children with mental health problems.
The Client Satisfaction Inventory: Results of an Initial Validation Study.
Research on Social Work Practice 10: 644-663, 2000.
McMurtry, Steven L. and Walter W. Hudson
The authors evaluate the measurement reliability and validity of a new client satisfaction scale.
Implementing Evidence-Based Social Work Practice
Research on Social Work Practice 18: 325-338, 2008
Mullen, Edward, J., Sarah E. Bledsoe, and Jennifer L. Bellamy
This article examines the implementation literature, describes alternative strategies for implementation of evidence-based practice in social work, describes an implementation study to illustrate concepts discussed, and specifies needed research.
Social Work Services on an Organ Transplantation Program: A Preliminary Cost-Benefit Analysis.
Research on Social Work Practice 9: 201-212, 1999.
Paris, Wayne, Linda Hutkin-Slade, Gayla Calhoun-Wilson, Beth Slentz, and William Oehlert
This study illustrates the use of cost-benefit analysis to assess social work services in a specialized unit. In addition to financial data, the authors also address the impact of services on quality of life, hospital admissions, length of stay, and the use of out-patient services.
The Effectiveness of a Psychoeducational Group for HIV-Infected/Affected Incarcerated Women.
Research on Social Work Practice 9: 171-187, 1999.
Pomeroy, Elizabeth C., Risa Kiam, and Eileen M. Abel
This study is an example of a pretest-posttest design to evaluate the effectiveness of a group intervention integrating both education and support in reducing depression, anxiety, and trauma symptoms.
From Knowledge Production to Implementation: Research Challenges and Imperatives
Research on Social Work Practice 18: 285-291, 2008
Proctor, Enola K., and Aaron Rosen
This article identifies implementation as a critical issue for research; implementation itself must be better understood if evidence-based practices are to be used and resultant improvements to practice are to be realized.
The Role of Science in Social Work: The Perennial Debate
Journal of Social Work 1: 273-293, 2001
Reid, William J.
This article examines the age-old debate about the role of science in social work has intensified with the growth of scientific activities and the emergence of philosophically-based criticisms of prevailing scientific paradigms.
Long Distance Parental Caregivers' Experiences with Siblings: A Qualitative Study.
Qualitative Social Work 6: 315-334, 2007.
Roff, L. L., S. S. Martin, L. K. Jennings, M. W. Parker, and D. K. Harmon
Interviews with adult children who lived at least one hour away from older parents and who were providing care to the older parents. The study focused on coordination of care, division of labor with other siblings, and caregiving and sibling relationships.
Evaluation Research: Bridge Between Social Work Administrator, Practitioner and Researcher
International Social Work 22: 27-32, 1979
This article discusses practical suggestions to increase mutual understanding and collaborative evaluative efforts between social work administrators, practitioners, and researchers.
Data Analysis Problems in Single-Case Evaluation: Issues for Research on Social Work Practice
Research on Social Work Practice 6: 40-65, 1996
Rubin, Allen, and Karen S. Knox
This article uses findings from an evaluation of a cognitive-behavioral intervention with adolescent sex offenders to illustrate these data analysis problems and develop issues for research on social work practice and the teaching of single-case evaluation.
Cost-Effectiveness of Case Management in Substance Abuse Treatment.
Research on Social Work Practice 16: 38-47, 2006.
Saleh, Shadi S., Thomas Vaughn, Samuel Levey, Laurence Fuortes, Tanya Uden-Holmen, and James A. Hall
This study examined the cost-effectiveness of different models of case management for individuals receiving substance abuse treatment.
Domestic Violence in the Lives of Women Receiving Welfare.
Violence Against Women 7: 141-158, 2001.
Tolman, Richard M. and Daniel Rosen
The study examined the relationship of domestic violence and economic well-being, physical health, and mental health in a randomly selected sample of female participants in the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program.
Facilitating Self-Esteem and Social Supports in a Family Life-Skills Program.
Affilia 15: 277-293, 2000.
Wichroski, Mary Anne, Sharyn J. Zunz, and Elizabeth Forshay
The authors used a pre-test post-test design to evaluate a program designed to enhance self-esteem and social supports. Data collection involved both responses to a structured questionnaire and ethnographic data including observations, field notes, and intensive interviews.
Engaging Young Adolescents in Social Action Through Photovoice: The Youth Empowerment Strategies (YES!) Project.
Journal of Early Adolescence 27: 241-261, 2007.
Wilson, Nance, Stefan Dasho, Anna C. Martin, Nina Wallerstein, Caroline C. Wang, and Meredith Minkler
Use of the Photovoice methodology is described as applied to an intervention to provide civic engagement opportunities.