Surveys have always been a popular social work research method. They are particularly applicable for portraying population characteristics on the basis of a sample. Two key methodological issues influencing the value of any survey are the representativeness of its respondents and the reliability and validity of its measures. Surveys can be administered by mail, online, or in face-to-face or telephone interviews. Each modality has advantages and disadvantages. Ultimately, which method to use will often depend on the purpose of the research, the nature of the research question, and feasibility considerations.
Julia H. Littell
Systematic reviews summarize a body of empirical evidence to address important questions for practice and social policy. Widely used to compile evidence about intervention effects in the helping professions, systematic reviews can also be used to assess rates, trends, associations, and variations on many topics. Credible reviews are based on the science of research synthesis, which provides the theoretical and empirical foundations that undergird efforts to minimize bias and error at each step in the review process to ensure that systematic reviews are comprehensive and their conclusions are accurate. Methods for the synthesis of quantitative studies are well developed. Meta-analysis, a set of statistical procedures, is often used in quantitative reviews, but meta-analysis is only one part of the systematic review process; other steps are needed to limit bias and error. Methods for systematic reviews of qualitative research are under development, as are strategies to combine quantitative and qualitative data in reviews.
Michael S. Kelly
Task-centered practice is a social work technology designed to help clients and practitioners collaborate on specific, measurable, and achievable goals. It is designed to be brief (typically 8–12 sessions), and can be used with individuals, couples, families, and groups in a wide variety of social work practice contexts. With nearly 40 years of practice and research arguing for its effectiveness, task-centered practice can rightfully claim to be one of social work's original “evidence-based practices,” though the relative paucity of research on its effectiveness in this decade suggests that the approach itself may have become increasingly integrated into other brief social work technologies.
Elizabeth Lightfoot and Raiza Beltran
The Group for the Advancement of Doctoral Education in Social Work (GADE) is the social work organization committed to promoting rigor in North American social work and social welfare doctoral program. GADE plays a vital role in supporting social work doctoral programs in training future social work researchers, scholars, and educators. GADE develops and updates the aspirational guidelines for quality in PhD programs, provides support to doctoral programs and doctoral program directors in program administration, collaborates with other national and international social work organizations, and serves as the leading voice for doctoral education in the field. This article traces the history of GADE from the early beginnings of social work doctoral education in the early 20th century, through the establishment of GADE in the 1977 to promote the research doctorate, and ending with GADE’s activities today.
Paula S. Nurius and Susan Kemp
This entry provides an overview of the nature of transdisciplinary and translational priorities in the context of changing forms of research and assessments of the relationship of research to societal impact. It first describes shifts away from single disciplinary to more integrative disciplinary approaches to science and discusses emerging forms of integrative research, distinguishing and illustrating multidisciplinary, interdisciplinary, and transdisciplinary approaches. It then turns to describing the social forces behind the acceleration of science into service, illustrating what are referred to as translational gaps and efforts to bridge them. Within social work, methods attentive to adaptation for diverse settings, organizational dissemination and implementation, and community partnership models have become prominent. The entry concludes with attention to the development of an educational pipeline that prepares professionals as well as researchers for capable, confident participation into this environment of transdisciplinary and translational approaches.