Building A Research And Development Strategy For Scotland’s Social Services

One of the most important messages from the Scottish Executive’s Changing Lives Report is that more of the same won’t do. To enable and support staff to do their jobs effectively the methods and processes used in Scotland’s social services need to be informed by sound knowledge and evidence.

A number of barriers to embedding research in the culture of social services organisations have been identified. These include:

  • Low investment in social services research
  • Practitioners’ perceptions that research is not relevant to their work
  • Lack of coordination of research activity
  • Many areas of practice under-researched
  • Social work academics undertaking less research than other academic disciplines
  • Poor prioritising of research topics
  • Absence of research infrastructure for social services research

How Will A Research Strategy Help?

The purpose of the strategy will be to increase the quantity and quality of relevant research activity, and its dissemination and integration into practice in order to improve and develop social services.

This will mean:

  • Ensuring that service users and carers contribute to the research agenda, and research design and implementation
  • Placing practice concerns at the heart of research priorities
  • Increasing investment in research
  • Supporting practitioners to carry out evaluation and research
  • Encouraging staff, managers, commissioners and decision-makers to base decisions on relevant research
  • Coordination and prioritisation of research
  • Increasing the quantity and quality of research undertaken in Scotland

How Will The R&D Strategy Be Developed?

In a partnership between the Scottish Executive and the Institute a national steering group has been set up with members from social work, research and academic bodies, the Care Commission and the Social Work Inspectorate. Three working groups have been established to report to the steering group on:

  1. Embedding research in social services organisations
  2. Increasing research capacity
  3. Creating a social services research infrastructure

The groups will meet three or four times in the next year to produce papers on each of their topics and the draft strategy will be circulated for consultation in the autumn of 2007, in preparation for a launch in the spring of 2008.

So What Can You Do?

If you have an interest in helping to make social services more linked to knowledge, research and evidence, perhaps you would like to be a member of one of the working groups? We are keen to include people from all areas of social services, if you’re interested please contact Karen McLeod. It would help us to know what job you do, what your interest in research is and which group you would like to join. We will need to hear from you by: Feb 28th

Kate Skinner, Institute Lead (Research, Development and Application)