The Handbook of Social Work Research Methods represents an area that we have several other publications coming out and a market we actively reach. In addition, Bruce Thyer is the editor of the journal Research in Social Work Practice and expressed interest in updating the book along with the other two candidates. In the field of social work, qualitative research is starting to gain more prominence as are mixed methods and various issues regarding race, ethnicity and gender. These changes in the field will be reflected and updated in the second edition of the handbook. It will also contain more on meta analysis, designs to evaluate treatment and will provide more support to help students harness the power of the Internet. The original mission of the handbook was to bring together leading scholars to write about research methods in social work. The second edition will stay true to this mission but will also attempt to be more student friendly and will be offered in a paperback edition. We will also make a greater effort to promote the book as a textbook, as we will do with the other two handbooks.
Social work knowledge building can be viewed as a continuum. First, exploratory research uncovers important variables of interest and identifies appropriate research designs to better understand relationships among variables. Second, descriptive research allows investigators to understand characteristics of those variables among participants and to begin examining relationships among those variables. Finally, explanatory research involves drawing causal inferences about how one variable predicts another (Rubin & Babbie, 2008; Yegidis & Weinbach, 2002). This chapter focuses on the second stage, descriptive research, by examining the following components:
- Definition and purpose of descriptive research
- Types of descriptive research
- Sampling considerations
- Surveying descriptive information
- Examples of three descriptive research studies
Definition and Purpose of Descriptive Research
Descriptive research attempts to describe characteristics of ...