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Social Work: Companion Document to the ACRL Framework: 2. Information Creation as a Process

Created by the ACRL/EBSS Social Work Committee, 2020

Social Work Perspective

Social Work Practice

Social workers are information creators. Whether it is case documentation, court letters, editorials, policy, advocacy briefs or empirical research. These communications represent the dynamic nature of information creation and dissemination throughout the field of social work. As information creators, social workers take responsibility for what their documentation communicates, protecting the privacy of clients, and acknowledging bias in their research methodology. 

Social Work Education

Social work students learn the processes of engagement, assessment, intervention, and the evaluation of the individuals in their care and how to ethically translate these interactions into information outputs (i.e., research papers, literature reviews, case documentation, and so on) that will benefit them. These iterative processes allow students the space to cultivate information in different formats and varying contexts. Social work librarians help students learn how to distinguish various information outputs and the process in which they were created. With this insight, students reflect, research, and critically evaluate these information outputs before incorporating them into their own documentation and scholarship.

Connection to Professional Standards (NASW)

National Association of Social Workers: Code of Ethics

Ethical Standard 3.04(b) & (c) -- Client Records

  • ​"Social workers should include sufficient and timely documentation in records to facilitate the delivery of services and to ensure continuity of services provided to clients in the future....[and] protect clients' privacy to the extent that is possible and appropriate and should include only information that is directly relevant to the delivery of services.”

Ethical Standard 5.01(d) -- Integrity of the Profession

  • “Social workers should contribute to the knowledge base of social work and share with colleagues their knowledge related to practice, research, and ethics. Social workers should seek to contribute to the profession's literature and to share their knowledge at professional meetings and conferences.”

Connection to Professional Standards (CSWE)

Council of Social Work Education: Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards

Competency 1: Demonstrate Ethical and Professional Behavior

  • “Social workers demonstrate professional demeanor in behavior; appearance; and oral, written, and electronic communication.”

Competency 5: Engage In Policy Practice

  • “Social workers apply critical thinking to analyze, formulate, and advocate for policies that advance human rights and social, economic, and environmental justice."

Examples of Learning Objectives and Activities

1. Learning Objective: Develop, in their own creation processes, an understanding that their choices impact the purposes for  which the information output will be used and the message it conveys.

  • Activity: Assign students to journal about a recent social work document they’ve composed (e.g. case note, annotated bibliography, policy brief, literature review, or other) reflecting on its intended audience and purpose. Invite students to share their reflections and respond to the capabilities and constraints of information creation.

2. Learning Objective: Describe the information creation process for popular and scholarly sources, and evaluate sources in order to choose those that fit the information need.

  • Activity: Facilitate a discussion comparing a scholarly research article with a popular article reporting on the same research. Students discuss how the process of creating each article is different. Then students analyze whether or not the popular article is an accurate representation of the research and, if it is not, why that may be.