• Australian social work research: an empirical study of engagement and impact

      Tilbury, Clare; Bigby, Christine; Fisher, Mike; Hughes, Mark; Griffith University; La Trobe University; University of Bedfordshire; Southern Cross University (Oxford University Press, 2020-12-03)
      Internationally, non-academic research impact is assessed by governments as part of evaluating the quality of publicly funded research. A case study method was used to investigate the non-academic impact of Australian social work research. Interviews were conducted with 15 leading researchers about outputs (research products, such as publications and reports), engagement (interaction between researchers and end-users outside academia to transfer knowledge, methods, or resources), and impact (social or economic contributions of research). Twelve case studies were prepared using a standardised template. Content analysis highlighted examples of impact, and theoretical and in-vivo coding uncovered processes of engagement and impact. Different types of engagements with research end-users influenced impact in three areas: legislation and policy; practices and service delivery; and quality of life of community members. Engagement and impact were intertwined as research altered policy discourses and illuminated hidden social issues, preparing ground for subsequent, more direct impact. Likewise, academic and non-academic impacts were intertwined as research rigour and academic credibility were perceived to leverage influence. There was no evidence of achieving impact simply through the trickle-down effect of scholarly publication. The findings broaden understandings of how research influences policy and practice and iterative and indirect relationships between engagement and impact.
    • A comparative study of Australian social work research

      Tilbury, Clare; Hughes, Mark; Bigby, Christine; Fisher, Mike; Vogel, Lauren (Oxford University Press, 2017-02-15)
      The quality and quantity of social work research is not simply a matter of academic inquiry, it has real-world implications for practitioners, policy makers, and the community. Internationally, research assessment exercises being undertaken in university sectors are shaping notions of research productivity, quality, and impact. This paper advances empirical understandings of the nature of social work research in Australia, through an interdisciplinary and cross-national comparative analysis of performance data reported in the research assessment exercises Excellence in Research for Australia 2012 and 2015, and the UK’s Research Excellence Framework 2014. It found that compared to other social science disciplines, social work in Australia is a mid-level performer in terms of quantity and above-average in terms of quality, but when compared to social work and social policy research in the UK, quality is rated less highly. It argues for more transparent criteria to assess quality within peer-review research assessments and careful consideration of ways to document and evaluate research impact that are relevant to the discipline, capable of capturing the many and varied ways that research can influence policy and practice over time.
    • From research question to practice research methodology

      Fisher, Mike (Routledge, 2020-04-30)
      This chapter concerns whether practice research might offer a solution to this conundrum at its most basic level–what should be researched and how? It concerns the way the problem or issue is conceptualised and what methods of research flow from these initial decisions. The chapter adopts a deliberately pragmatic and concrete stance, attempting to reflect the predominantly practical concerns of practitioners. Social workers address inherently complex problems – how to ensure children are safe but have the freedom to explore, how to respect a client’s autonomy in the face of demands that ‘something should be done’, how to support communities to oppose harmful development without destroying economic opportunity. The technology of systematic reviews is evolving rapidly, and now offers alternatives to the lengthy prescriptions of classical methods.
    • Helsinki statement on social work practice research

      Fisher, Mike; Austin, Michael J.; Uggerhoj, Lars (Taylor & Francis, 2014-12-10)
    • The Hong Kong Statement on Practice Research 2017: contexts and challenges of the Far East

      Sim, Timothy; Austin, Michael J.; Abdullah, Fazlin; Chan, Tak Mau Simon; Chok, Martin; Cui, Ke; Epstein, Irwin; Fisher, Mike; Joubert, Lynette; Julkunen, Ilse; et al. (SAGE Publications Inc, 2018-06-15)
      This statement on social work practice research highlights the contributions of scholars, practitioners, and conference participants in the Fourth International Conference on Practice Research (ICPR) in 2017, hosted by The Hong Kong Polytechnic University in May 2017. It focuses on the contexts and challenges of carrying out practice research in the Far East and beyond as well as raises pertinent questions about the development of practice research. It begins with a brief description of the context of social work practice research in the Far East. The second part explores the organizational and community contexts and challenges of practice research with special attention to the perspectives of practitioners. It concludes with reviewing some of the continuing challenges that will guide the program planning for the Fifth ICPR in 2020 in Melbourne, Australia, located at the crossroads between East and West.
    • ICPR2017 – The Fourth International Conference on Practice Research: overview

      Chin, Ci-Siou; Ciro, Diane; Fisher, Mike; Ji, Clara; Begum, Razwana; Rahim, Abdul; Lien. Ying; Kay-yu Wu, Florence; University of Bedfordshire (IASSW, 2017-10-09)
      This paper reports issues arising from the Fourth International Conference on Practice Research, held in Hong Kong in May 2017. The issues were identified by specially convened group of conference participants, and include the need to develop a better language to describe practice research in terms that make sense to practitioners, improved support for practitioners to conduct research, recognising the different drivers for practice research in different countries, and enhancing practitioners' coordinating and leadership roles.
    • Research end-user perspectives about using social work research in policy and practice

      Tilbury, Clare; Hughes, Mark; Bigby, Christine; Fisher, Mike; Griffith University; Southern Cross University; La Trobe University; University of Bedfordshire (Oxford Journals, 2021-02-14)
      Research funding and assessment initiatives that foster engagement between researchers and research end-users have been adopted by governments in many countries. They aim to orient research towards achieving measurable impacts that improve economic and social well-being beyond academia. This has long been regarded as important in social work research, as it has in many fields of applied research. This study examined research engagement and impact from the perspective of research end-users working in human services. In-person or telephone interviews were conducted with 43 research end-users about how they used research and interacted with researchers. Content analysis was undertaken to identify engagement strategies and thematic coding was employed to examine underpinning ideas about research translation into practice. Participants were involved in many types of formal and informal research engagements. They viewed research translation as a mutual responsibility but indicated that researchers should do more to improve the utility of their research for industry. The findings highlight the iterative nature of engagement and impact and raise questions about the infrastructure for scaling up impact beyond relationships between individual researchers and their industry partners.
    • The research–practice relationship and the work of Edward Mullen

      Fisher, Mike; Marsh, Peter; University of Bedfordshire; University of Sheffield (Bozen-Bolzano University Press, 2015-12-01)
    • Using grey literature in the human services: perspectives of Australian research end users

      Hughes, Mark; Tilbury, Clare; Bigby, Christine; Fisher, Mike; Southern Cross University; Griffith University; La Trobe University; University of Bedfordshire (Australian and New Zealand Social Work and Welfare Education and Research, 2021-03-24)
      Human services workers need up-to-date, quality research to inform their work in practice, management, education, policy, and advocacy. While some research end users read peer-reviewed journal articles, many also rely on research-based grey literature in the form of print and online materials, which may not be subject to scholarly peer review. This may include commissioned research reports, conference papers, policy documents, and research summaries. The aim of this study was to understand how research end users accessed research knowledge and the benefits and challenges related to different knowledge sources, including grey literature. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 43 research end users in child protection, disability, and aged care services. Participants indicated that they used an array of grey literature for reasons such as difficulties accessing academic journals, wanting to read more digestible research, and to source lived experience or culturally appropriate knowledge. Grey literature provides a valuable source of research knowledge, but uncertainty about its quality means research end users should be mindful of its limitations. Producers of grey literature should ensure that it distils messages for policy, practice, and the delivery of human services based on sound research.