PURPOSE AND ROLE OF RESEARCH IN HEALTH & SOCIAL CARE
Research is wide and diverse. It may focus on people (eg. why men are more aggressive than women) on the structures of society, (eg. the family) or may study hidden structures (eg, memory).
The word “research” has several meanings:
1. Research is a systematic, formal rigorous and precise process employed to gain solutions to problems and/or to discover and interpret new facts and relationships. (Waltz and Bausell, 1981, p.1).
2. Research is the process of looking for a specific answer to a specific question in an organised objective reliable way (Payton, 1979, p.4)
Diversity of Research
There are several factors which distinguish between different types of research, but the main one is whether it is ‘qualitative’ or ‘quantitative’ research (will be discussed later).
There are many types of research, the main ones being: Exploratory Research – carried out to see if the topic for investigation is worth doing before carrying out the full investigation, eg. will there be enough relevant secondary data. Basic Research – is concerned with producing new information and knowledge on a topic and with increasing scientific understanding. It is not intended to be used (or applied) by those working in the field, eg, social workers, nurses etc. It is also called ‘pure research’ Applied Research – the aim of such research is that the findings will be used by practitioners in carrying out their jobs; it is intended that their jobs performance will be improved by the findings. Practitioners will study the findings of such research to help them keep up to date with current developments in their job, eg. findings of a study on the effects of psychological abuse on an elderly person’s self-esteem.
... the result of personal contacts during the job finding process. Next in line for finding jobs was placement by employment agencies, rehabilitation counselors ... approximately 16% of the people surveyed in Crammatte's study found employment through direct application in which they would send ... in order to become successful at their chosen career. Studies have shown that a majority of deaf workers are not ...
Descriptive Research – aims to describe something that is currently happening and is the most commonly used, eg. it could be used in order to find out what age group is most likely to develop an eating disorder. Longitudinal Research – studies social issues over a period of time, possibly years, eg. the development of a child from birth to 5 years Comparative Research – aims to identify similarities and/or differences between research categories, eg. between different age groups, socio-economic groups (classes) etc. An example of such research would be cross-cultural studies which compares behaviour etc. between different societies or cultures. Action Research – is increasingly being used within childcare educational programmes (eg. BTEC ND H&SC).
Its main idea is to use research to directly change working practice. While other quantitative and qualitative research approaches may go through a long process of data collection, analysis and eventually producing a final report which researchers can only hope practitioners will use to inform their work, action-research works directly with practitioners so that findings are used to immediately and continually develop practice. Therefore, a key idea within action-research is that it is done with participants rather than on them. Basically the individual uses what they have learned in theory and puts it into practice in the workplace. An example is the PPD module.
Purpose of Social Research
The function of research is to either create or test a theory. A theory is an explanation for something that is based on observation, experimentation, and reasoning. Many theories of human behaviour are based on ‘common-sense’ ideas, eg. women are more nurturing than men. Research is the method used to test whether a theory is good or not. It is the method by which data is gathered to generate a theory or to test a theory. There are different ways of conducting research, however any method you use will be based on the systematic collection and analysis of data following the Scientific Method (will be discussed later).
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The emphasis here is on the word systematic. This means that you have to collect your data in an ordered manner, with a purpose in mind (clear aim), and following certain rules about your method of collection, eg. questionnaire, interview etc.
Overall Purpose and Aims of Social Research
a. General – studying something to gain more information on it, eg. a social survey to study the recreational habits of the population of Newtownabbey (what people do in their spare time) b. Theoretical – prove, disprove, or change a theory
c. Pragmatic (realistic) – suggest solutions to social problems, eg. findings from research into awareness of adolescents of dangers of prescription drugs indicates need for increase in publicity campaigns d. Political – provide evidence for changes to social policy, and support for government legislation, eg. findings of research into abuse of welfare system by migrant workers could be used by government to change immigration policy.
Overall Motives of Social Research
Aims usually refer to immediate outcomes of the research, eg. to find out the extent of the problem being investigated or what is causing it. Motives refer to more general goals and can be ‘intrinsic’ (related to the interests of the researcher) or ‘extrinsic’ (related to the interests of whoever has commissioned or requested the research).
The main motives are: 1. Educational – to educate and inform the public
2. ‘Magical’ – to provide credibility to the researcher or the person/organisation commissioning the research 3. Personal – to promote the academic status of the researcher 4. Institutional – to enhance the standing of the organization (eg. University) for which the researcher works 5. Political – to provide support for government plans or programmes