Journal Article

Keeping Social Work Honest: Evaluating as Profession and Practice


in The British Journal of Social Work

Published on behalf of British Association of Social Workers

Volume 27, issue 6, pages 847-869
Published in print December 1997 | ISSN: 0045-3102
Published online December 1997 | e-ISSN: 1468-263X | DOI:
Keeping Social Work Honest: Evaluating as Profession and Practice

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The central argument of this paper is that social work needs a radical alternative to existing options for evaluating practice. Social workers at present are offered three choices. They are invited to choose between applying research, conducting research or adopting specific forms of empirical research-based practice (for example Everitt et al., 1992; Thyer. 1993; Fuller and Petch, 1995).

We touch briefly on reasons why we believe none of these options provides an adequate grounding for social work, referring especially to the growing call for social work to find new purpose through an empirical, research-based practice. If alternative approaches are to be persuasive, they must be fashioned from the materials of a new approach to research on social work practice— ‘one that is exploratory rather than confirmatory, building a model of evaluation from the practitioners' own accounts rather than superimposing an ideal model’ (Elks and Kirkhart, 1993, p. 555). The major part of this paper is taken up with evidence from research of this kind. The model of evaluating in practice with which we conclude the paper is simultaneously true to social workers' accounts of their practice, while offering a critical starting point for evaluating and refashioning that practice.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Social Work

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