The Meandering Social Worker

wandering : wondering : learning

Book Review – Qualitative Research

Qualitative Research Skills for Social Work by Malcolm Carey [2012], Ashgate Publishing, Surrey, ISBN 978-1-4094-4931-7

Written in an accessible style Carey’s comprehensive guide to undertaking qualitative research will be particularly appreciated by social work students undertaking their first piece of research as well as experienced practitioner-students undertaking subsequent research but wanting a quick reference guide or handbook available.

Presented in three sections, part 1 is the background you need before you start and in the early stages of your research, and includes research concepts, undertaking a literature review, the theoretical perspectives and ethical principles.  Part 2 moves on to practical tasks such as designing and carrying out interviews, running focus groups and using case studies while part 3 covers the final stage of analysis, writing up and disseminating your research findings.  Case studies help illustrate aspects of the different stages.

Although the book outlines qualitative research as likely to be the most appropriate research for social work, lending itself to small scale in-depth inquiries based on local needs and service provision, there are many comparisons to quantitative research and much of part 1 and at least some of part 3 are relevant to both disciplines.  The three page list of social work related websites that are also relevant for social research towards the end of part 2 is a valuable resource in itself.


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