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The place of writing in social work: bridging the theory-practice divide

Heron, Gavin and Murray, Rowena (2004) The place of writing in social work: bridging the theory-practice divide. Journal of Social Work, 4 (2). pp. 199-214. ISSN 1468-0173

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Summary: Despite the rhetoric surrounding the merits of practitioners' contributions, writing for publication in social work continues to be an activity dominated by academics. Furthermore, it could be argued that the influence of the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) is reshaping what can be considered as quality research. This article examines the nature of writing for publication within social work and gives particular focus to residential child care, where the problem is most striking, although this discussion will have relevance for professionals in other social work settings. We argue that without greater involvement of practitioners, quality research may be quite narrowly defined. Findings: There would appear to be minimal discussion of the absence of practitioner writing in the social work literature. The causes for this absence have not been fully explored; potential factors, such as inequality, barriers to writing and current education and training programmes, have not been addressed as fully as in other professions. Applications: This focus on academic writing shows the need for a more inclusive approach to social work practice and research. There is a need for further discussion of strategies to involve residential child care practitioners in research.