Research as social work: participatory research in learning disability

Atkinson, Dorothy (2005). Research as social work: participatory research in learning disability. British Journal of Social Work, 35(4) pp. 425–434.



The social work literature has already made links between social work and research, and has argued in favour of practitioner research. This paper turns the argument around and looks at how research can come to look and feel like social work. This happens particularly, but not exclusively, in participatory research in the learning disability field, especially in auto/biographical or life-story research, where long-term research relationships are more in evidence. Drawing on the participatory research methodology literature, and her own oral and life history research, the author explores the areas in which research comes to emulate social work practice. There are, of course, practical and ethical issues to be addressed and, as the author concludes, safeguards are needed to clarify roles and foster openness in research relationships.

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