Martine Ganzevles, Daan Andriessen, Tine Van Regenmortel, & Jaap van Weeghel (2021, May). When methods meet motives: Methodological pluralism in social work research. Quality & Quantity. (ePub in advance of print) (Open Access:

Abstract: 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.

Martine Ganzevles <> is with the Research Group Methodology of Practice-Based Research, HU – University of Applied Sciences Utrecht, Utrecht; and the Academic Collaborative Centre Social Work, Tranzo – Tilburg School of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands.