A subsequent post to the same forum on research:
“Purist scholars may find their fulfillment in undertaking research for the sole purpose of adding to the existing body of knowledge, and I respect them for that. I believe however that social work research, in particular, cannot simply seek knowledge for knowledge’s sake, and can only be truly meaningful when undertaken for the purpose of initiating positive change in society and/or in the way its realities are addressed. Here in UP I know that it is a common and encouraged practice (perhaps Dr. Almazan can enlighten us further in this regard) for colleges, centers, faculty members and even students to be tapped by development organizations to be their partners in doing various kinds of research. It is also quite common now to see academics being engaged as members of multi-stakeholder networks to lend their expertise , data and other resources to change and development efforts undertaken at the local and national levels.
“A greater fraction of the challenge to optimizing the social benefits of research perhaps lies on the perspective of the policy makers, program implementers and community members that undermine the value of anchoring decisions, strategies and actions on good data. We must admit that a huge amount of recommendations arising from good pieces of research are viewed as a tall order by decision makers, requiring a great deal of re-work in policy orientation, prioritization, resource allocation, collaboration and program design, operation and organization. Only the easiest (or “more realistic”) recommendations thus end up being adopted, while the rest are relegated to the token position of “advocacy points” if not simply pushed back for subsequent consideration and eventually dropped or forgotten.
“It is probably for this reason that social work researchers need to strike a balance between being results- and process-oriented. Banking on the policy makers and development organizations and practitioners alone to be the prime users of research data may cause us to miss out on the opportunity to facilitate learning and change among the people and the communities themselves as they take part and even take lead roles in a research endeavor. If more social work research can be undertaken using genuinely participatory approaches/methodologies, then researchers need not wait for development big-wigs to act on research findings and recommendations to see change taking place. Throughout the whole course of such research, people and communities are already empowered, gradually, as they learn more of themselves and take active roles in analyzing their realities and discovering/crafting solutions to their problems based on facts that they have been enabled to take hold of and respond to competently.”
It’s boring, academic writing, but I’m just happy to note that I’m actually able to put my thoughts together once in a while 🙂