Social workers rely on Evidence-Based Practice to demonstrate the efficacy of the services they provide. Social workers and their agencies incorporate evidence into their practice by identifying and translating research; building relationships between practitioners and researchers; collecting and managing data on the individuals, families, and communities in which they work with integrity. To do this, social workers need to keep current with emerging knowledge relevant to their clients. Social workers who can synthesize information from multiple sources, critically assess new professional literature, and re-evaluate previously held conclusions in light of new information, will be effective evidence-based practitioners.
Social workers also draw on their professional knowledge as well as the expertise and lived experiences of their clients and the wider communities they serve. Expertise is also considered from other professions via a multi-disciplinary, cross-collaborative approach. When academic resources are unavailable, social workers utilize open access resources to inform their practice. Additionally, information is acquired in an ethical, legal manner.
Social work librarians promote the value of open ended questions and the importance of gathering information from multiple outlets and perspectives and gathering information from the perspective of marginalized communities. Social work librarians also emphasize the literature search as an iterative process. Social work librarians guide students in narrowing or broadening initial research questions by helping them ask “increasingly complex or new questions whose answers in turn develop additional questions or lines of inquiry in any field” (Frame 4).
Social work librarians also teach students how to utilize a variety of research methods, including sources that fall outside the academic sphere such as the lived experiences of one’s clients. Further, social work librarians can assist students in developing data curation skills through the use of software applications for bibliographic management, survey design, and quantitative statistical analysis.
Ethical Standard 2.03 -- Interdisciplinary Collaboration
Ethical Standard 4.01 -- Competence
“Social workers should critically examine and keep current with emerging knowledge relevant to social work. Social workers should routinely review the professional literature...should base practice on recognized knowledge, including empirically based knowledge, relevant to social work and social work ethics.”
Ethical Standard 4.08 -- Acknowledging Credit
“Social workers should take responsibility and credit, including authorship credit, only for work they have actually performed and to which they have contributed…[and] honestly acknowledge the work of and the contributions made by others.”
Ethical Standard 5.01(b) -- Integrity of the Profession
Ethical Standard 5.02(c) -- Evaluation and Research
Competency 1: Demonstrate Ethical and Professional Behavior
Competency 4: Engage In Practice-informed Research and Research-informed Practice
1. Learning Objective: Identify additional questions to original research topic or interest.
2. Learning Objective: Locate a variety of source materials related to your research project.
3. Learning Objective: Locate and retrieve a research article that exists in a free, open access database that does not require you to log in to your institutional account.
4. Learning Objective: Identify alternative keywords to the original search terms you started with.