By Malcolm Carey
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Extra resources for The Social Work Dissertation : Practically Applying Qualitative Methodology
Possible topics Possible research topics for a dissertation include: 1 Theory based This may involve focusing upon the impact that one specific theory has had on social work practice. Such a theory might include one that has become neglected but which may still have much to offer. For example, you may wish to consider the impact of systems or labelling theory, or perhaps compare the impact of two theories over time. You could consider how any one theory has impacted upon practice with a service user group while you were on a practice placement, or compare the different influences that sociological theories have had in contrast to psychological paradigms.
A concept is a theme, trend, idea, social group or construct, that is linked to a research topic and which has wide meaning within a discipline such as social work. Concepts include gender, ethnicity, class, poverty, service users, and so on. , 1996: 37). For example, within a dissertation that seeks to explore social work practice with men with mental health needs, it is likely that a student will utilize the concepts of both gender and mental health, as well as how they relate, as part of any overall literature review and analysis.
As Blaxter et al. (1996: 37) stress, ‘research seldom, if ever, breaks wholly new ground; it builds upon an extensive history of other peoples work’. By contrasting your own research with other related material a topic is placed into context or given greater understanding and meaning. A research topic may also utilize material that is not directly related but still links to a topic. For example in exploring the KEY CONCEPTS IN SOCIAL WORK RESEARCH 41 mental health needs of a service user, a researcher may also need to consider other related influences, such as the impact of available welfare services or the effect of prior institutional support upon the current social needs of a participant.
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