When Methods Meet Motives: methodological pluralism in Social Work research

Authors Martine Ganzevles, M.R.F. Van Regenmortel, Jaap van Weeghel, Daan Andriessen
Published in Quality & Quantity
Publication date 13 May 2021
Research groups Research Competence
Type Article


In Social Work research there is a strong debate on the distinctiveness and methodological quality, and how to address the dilemma of rigour and practice relevance. Given the nature of Social Work the field has developed a characteristic research culture that puts emphasis on giving voice to service users and disseminating research knowledge in practice, especially in a stream of so called practice-based research. However, there is no consensus on how to best contribute to the practice of Social Work through research and at the same time producing rigourous scientific outcomes, resulting in methodological pluralism. Studying the perceptions of Social Work researchers on their role, the aims and values of Social Work research and their research approach, provides insight into the methodological pluralism of Social Work research. Thirty-four professors specialising in practice-based Social Work research participated in a Q methodology study. Q methodology combines qualitative and quantitative methods. It helped reveal and describe divergent views as well as consensus. The analysis led to the identification of three differing viewpoints on Social Work research, which have been given the following denominators: The Substantiator, The Change Agent and The Enlightener. The viewpoints provide researchers in the field of Social Work with a framework in which they can position themselves in the methodological pluralism. Researchers state that the viewpoints are helpful in clarifying perspectives on good research, facilitate the discourse on methodological choices to further develop and strengthen Social Work research as a scientific discipline

On this publication contributed

Language English
Published in Quality & Quantity
Key words practice-based research, Q methodology, Research approaches, Methodological pluralism, Social work research
Digital Object Identifier https://doi.org/10.1007/s11135-021-01161-3

Martine Ganzevles