Defining ‘quality’ in social policy research: views, perceptions and a framework for discussion

Becker, Saul, Bryman, Alan and Sempik, Joe (2006) Defining ‘quality’ in social policy research: views, perceptions and a framework for discussion. Project Report. Social Policy Association, Joint University Council Social Policy Committee, Lavenham, Suffolk.

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Abstract

This report presents the findings from an innovative mixed methods study of over 250 social policy researchers and users of research and how they conceptualise ‘quality’ in social policy research and how they judge the quality of published research texts.

It draws on three sources of original data: an Internet survey of 251 respondents, six discussion groups with 26 participants and in-depth telephone interviews with a further 28 interviewees. The study is the first to capture the range of views and criteria concerning ‘quality’ that are held by members of the ‘social policy community’. The report provides a synthesis of the key findings from all sources of data. It examines indicators of quality in quantitative, qualitative, mixed methods, cross-national and theoretical social policy research; it explores whether there is a perceived ‘hierarchy’ of methods in social policy research whereby the method and research design themselves are associated with higher quality; it reviews what the social policy community think of user involvement in research and how this involvement might affect quality; it discusses how ‘originality’, ‘significance’ and ‘rigour’ can be conceived of as criteria of quality; and it shows that within the social policy community it is possible to construct a ranking of quality criteria with some indicators receiving significantly more support than others.

The report will be supplemented by a number of specialist articles that will report in more depth particular aspects of the research. An email alert service is available for those who would like access to these other publications (see inside front cover for details).

This report is timely given the growing concern in higher education for assessing quality in research, particularly the quality of published research, through the mechanism of the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE). The data contained in the report, and the findings, will be of interest to those who conduct, manage, fund, publish, review or use social policy research and particularly to those who need to make judgements about the quality of published studies. It is hoped that the publication of this report will generate dialogue and debate within and outside the social policy community about what counts as ‘quality’.

Item Type: Reports and working papers (Project Report)
Additional Information: ISBN 0907274501
Schools and Departments: School of Education and Social Work > Social Work and Social Care
Subjects: L Education
Depositing User: Deeptima Massey
Date Deposited: 30 Jul 2018 09:23
Last Modified: 30 Jul 2018 09:23
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/77421
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