What Counts as Valid Research in Social Work?

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorialpeer-review

8 Downloads (Pure)


The notion of social work research impacting directly on practice is nothing new. This article explores the challenges within the recent trend which privileges randomized controlled trials (RCTs) – the ‘gold standard’ of research within medical science – and a relatively new approach to evaluating the effectiveness of interventions with children and families. The What Works Centre for Children’s Social Care is also discussed in terms of what policymakers count as ‘valid evidence’ when allocating financial resources within Children’s Services. The appeal of the RCT is clear to those in charge of budgets, offering a binary, conclusive approach to finding out whether or not something works. Yet an RCT methodology will not capture the nuances of relationships, trust, and social meanings – all of which are integral to delivering effective interventions in social work with children and families. The simple picture painted by government and what they circumscribe as valid research is not the reality of where social work interventions take place. The What Works Centre for Social Care does, however, offer some reasons for hope in working towards a richer research landscape, where the knowledge base is more diverse, valuing and yielding both qualitative and quantitative insights.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)84-87
Number of pages4
JournalSentio Journal
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2019

Cite this