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Jim Poulter Author of Books on Aboriginal Culture and Child Protection
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The Two Embedded Research Functions of Heuristic Case Practice

Journal article in : Australian Social Work, Vol. 59. No. 3, September 2006, pp328-341.


In social work’s formative years, practice, education, training, research and theory building were an integrated whole within the field. However when educational responsibilities moved to tertiary institutions, research and theory building was also claimed as a primary responsibility by these bodies. Since then, the function of research has been seen from a tertiary institutions perspective as the post-hoc evaluation of intervention effectiveness. This paper proposes that two distinct types of research remain seamlessly embedded within everyday case practice, these being Interventive research and Modelling research. Interventive research is the information gathering and synthesising process creating a theory of one that guides each intervention. Modelling research is the reflective linking of interventions over a class of cases to build practice wisdom and guide future interventions in similar cases. Such research is not free from experimental control as has been assumed in the past, but has a number of embedded bias controls that protect the integrity of practice interventions by giving greater reliability and validity than assumed previously.


As indicated, the article explores the research functions embedded in heuristic case practice. This issue formed part of my Doctoral thesis and was subsequently developed further as part of my text ‘An Integrated Theory of Practice in Social Work. The above paper therefore constitutes the first half of Chapter Nine of that text as shown in the table of contents.

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