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Appraising and Using Social Research in the Human Services


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Table of Contents

Preface. 1. Introduction. 2. Appraising and Using Social Research in the Human Services. 3. Some Key Issues in Appraising Social Research. 4. Questionnaire Design for Quantitative Research: Structured Instruments. 5. Surveys and Sampling. 6. Experimental and Quasi Experimental Designs. 7. The Qualitative Interview. 8. Ethnography and Practice. 9. Content Analysis and Grounded Theory. 10. Qualitative Evaluation. 11. Multimethod Research. 12. Afterword. Glossary of Key Terms in Social Research. References. Index.

About the Author

Michael Sheppard is Professor of Social Work at the University of Plymouth and has been involved in professional education for nearly twenty years. A qualified social worker, he has specialised in mental health and child care in practice and has also worked as a psychiatric nurse. He has published widely in the field and is the author of Prevention and Coping in Child and Family Care, also published by Jessica Kingsley.


At the heart of the book are clear descriptions of a range of methodologies, how these methodologies should be critically appraised and how the practitioner might consider them when wishing to inform his/her work. A useful glossary or key terms is given to dispel some of the myths surrounding research. This perhaps is the strength of the book. In an accessible style, it demystifies research, helping us to make sense of different methodologies in way that we can be surer that research findings inform our practice in a way that is less likely to do harm. I recommend this book. It is a useful introduction.The key message of the book - a useful reminder for all of us, including journalists - is, first, that you have to look beneath the surface of the findings and understand the nature and quality of the research undertaken.Not all research is equal. Every intervention has the possibility of doing good, making no difference or doing no harm. At the very least, social and health professionals should try to ensure that they are not harming. This book is aimed at helping those educating and preparing for practice in health and social work to appraise and use social research.

-- British Journal of Social Work
Shepard (social work, University of Plymouth) provides social work and health care undergraduate students and practitioners with the knowledge they need to evaluate research and apply it to their own practice. He considers first the process by which research and other forms of knowledge may be used in practice, and then explores the range of research methodologies used in health and social care, from randomized control trials to experimental designs and ethnographic approaches, using realistic case examples. He outlines the strengths and limitations of each and shows readers how to identify the assumptions underlying them. -- Book News

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