You are here

Social Work Research Methods

Social Work Research Methods
Learning by Doing

January 2019 | 544 pages | SAGE Publications, Inc

Social Work Research Methods is a step-by-step journey through the process of conducting research. With over 30 years of teaching experience, author Reginald O. York helps readers discover how research can enable them to better serve clients in the field. Each chapter features a hands-on approach to producing research, with practical chapter exercises that reinforce methods mastery. Using their own data, students engage in realistic research activities and gain an appreciation for science-informed practice as a means of evaluating client outcomes.


Part 1: The Fundamentals of Science and Social Work Research
Chapter 1: Science, Research, and Social Work Practice
How do we Know what we Know?  
Avoiding Errors in Decision Making  
Science as a Way of Knowing  
Science and Critical Thinking  
Social Work Practice and Science  
Common Sense and the Scientific Method  
Pseudoscience as an Alternative to Science  
Applying the Basic Principles of Science—Does the Full Moon Make Us Different?  
Chapter 2: Purposes and Processes of Social Work Research
Four Purposes of Social Work Research  
Evaluating Programs and Interventions  
Qualitative and Quantitative Measurement  
The Research Process  
Chapter 3: Ethics and Cultural Competence in Social Work Research
The Code of Ethics as a Guide for the Professional Social Worker  
Major Principles about the Protection of Human Subjects in Research  
Challenges for the Social Work Researcher  
The Institutional Review Board  
Advice for the Social Work Researcher  
The Nature of Cultural Competence  
Cultural Competence Among Types of Research  
Cultural Competence and the Research Process  
Strategies for Cultural Competent Evaluations  
Are Social Workers Culturally Competent?  
Rethinking Cultural Competence  
Chapter 4: Evidence-based Practice
The Nature of Evidence and Evidence-based Practice  
Levels of Evidence  
Places to Find Evidence on the Internet  
Advice for the Social Worker  
Steps in the Process of Evidence-based Practice  
Critical Appraisal of Evidence-based Practice  
Part 2: Conducting Different Types of Social Work Research
Chapter 5: Conducting Research that Employs Social Surveys
The Nature of the Social Survey  
Types of Social Surveys  
When to Use Each Type of Survey  
Conducting Your Own Social Survey  
Composing Your Own Questionnaire  
Advantages and Disadvantages of the Social Survey  
Chapter 6: Conducting Research that Describes People (What Are the Traits of the Good Manager?)
Types of Social Work Research  
The Phases of Descriptive Research  
Chapter 7: Conducting Research that Explains Things (Does Stress and Social Support Explain Life Satisfaction?)
The Four Major Phases of Explanatory Research  
An Example in Explanatory Research: Does Social Support or Stress Explain Life Satisfaction  
Chapter 8: Conducting Research that Evaluates Services
The Part of the Evaluation System  
The Phases of Outcome Evaluation Research  
Chapter 9: Conducting Qualitative Research that Explores the Unknown
Exploratory Research and Qualitative Research Methods  
What Qualitative and Quantitative Research Have in Common  
The Phases of Exploratory Research Using Qualitative Research Methods  
Approaches to Qualitative Research  
Data Collection in Evaluative Research  
Data Analysis in Qualitative Research  
Chapter 10: Conducting Program Evaluations
What Does Your Agency Do to Evaluate Programs?  
The Nature of Program Evaluations  
Advantages of Program Evaluations  
Characteristics of Good Programs  
Finding Evidence for Human Service Programs  
Types of Program Evaluations  
The Logic Model as a Method of Portraying Critical Aspects of the Program Evaluation  
Some Qualitative Approaches to Program Evaluation  
Issues in Program Evaluation  
Part 3: Conducting Each Phases of Social Work Research
Chapter 11: Developing Your Knowledge Base and Intervention
Purpose and Knowledge as the Foundations of the Research Study  
The Literature Review for a Research Study  
Describing the Intervention or Program  
Preliminary Information for the Practice Exercise  
Chapter 12: Drawing Your Study Sample
The Study Sample and the Study Population  
Generalization of Study Results  
Sampling Error  
Sampling Elements, Sampling Frames, and Sampling Intervals  
Random Samples and Scientific Generalization  
Non-random Samples and Logical Generalization  
Chapter 13: Measuring Your Study Variables
Why Fret Over Measurement?  
The Nature of Measurement in Social Work Research  
Standardized Tools and Individualized Tools  
Measurement Error  
Reliability and Validity in Qualitative Research  
Securing the Tool for Measuring Your Study Variables  
Evaluating Measurement Tools  
Tips for Designing Your Own Measurement Tool  
Computing the Score for Your Scale  
Describing Your Measurement Tool  
Determining Practical Significance  
Special Challenges for Single-Subject Research  
Individualized Scales as One Option  
Chapter 14: Selecting a Design for a Group Evaluation Study
The Nature of Causation in Research  
Threats to Internal Validity  
What Threats Should Be of Special Concern in My Situation?  
Two General Types of Research Designs  
Group Designs  
Chapter 15: Selecting a Research Design for a Single Client
The Nature of the Single-Subject Research Design  
Single-Subject Designs that Fail to Address Maturation or History  
Single-Subject Designs that Address Maturation  
Single-Subject Designs That Address Both Maturation History  
Data Analysis for Single-Subject Research  
Limitations of the Single-Subject Research Design  
Chapter 16: Analyzing Data and Drawing Conclusions
Using Descriptive Statistics to Describe People  
Using Inferential Statistics to Test your Hypothesis in Explanatory Research  
Questions You Must Answer to Find Your Statistic in Explanatory Research  
Finding Your Statistic in Explanatory Research  
Interpreting Data in Explanatory Research  
Using Inferential Statistics to Test Your Hypothesis When You Are Evaluating Practice  
Reporting Your Study Conclusions  
Chapter 17: Analyzing Qualitative Data
An Overview of Qualitative Data Analysis  
Narrative Analysis  
Content Analysis  


Instructor Resource Site

Free online resources for instructors accompany this text on a password-protected Instructor Resource Site.

  • Test banks provide a diverse range of pre-written options as well as the opportunity to edit any question and/or insert personalized questions to effectively assess students’ progress and understanding.
  • Editable, chapter-specific PowerPoint® slides offer complete flexibility for creating a multimedia presentation.

"This book provides hands-on knowledge to student learners in a way that grounds their classroom learning with professional practice expectations."

Dione Moultrie King
University of Alabama at Birmingham

"This is a research book for social workers that has social work cases and explains in detail the applicability to research situations. Research is explained in a simple way for social work students."

Claudia Moreno
Dominican College

"A solid text that addresses the goals of the course and competencies in the field."

Julie Schroeder
Jackson State University
Key features
  • A “learn by doing” approach woven throughout the text helps students apply knowledge to practice.
  • A three-part structure introduces the fundamentals of research methods, the different types of social work research, and the use of data analysis for evaluation of social work practice.
  • Chapter-opening vignettes illustrate the value of chapter content to the practicing social worker.
  • Chapter-ending practice exercises provide opportunities to apply chapter knowledge and gain a better understanding of research competencies.
  • Practical guidelines for data analysis show students how to use the Internet to analyze data with simple step-by-step instructions.
  • Discussion questions provide opportunities to spark class discussions and help students reflect on critical concepts.
  • Chapter tests, lists of key learnings, and glossaries at the end of chapters serve as convenient tools for reviewing key concepts and definitions.

For instructors

Please select a format:

Select a Purchasing Option

Electronic version
Prices from
*180 day rental