— Heidi Sfiligoj, News Staff
The National Institutes of Health Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) provided NASW Press with funding to publish and disseminate a special issue of Social Work Research. Those receiving free copies of the issue include deans and directors of all social work education programs in the United States as well as doctoral program directors, NIH staff and NASW sections members.
The special December 2008 issue, titled “Research Capacity and Infrastructure Development in Schools of Social Work,” contains 13 full-length articles that describe lessons learned about enhancing research capacity and infrastructure through investments made by the NIH, foundations, states and universities; outline strategic models aimed at improving research infrastructure that offer promise for replication across schools of social work; and identify key practices, personnel, resources, and strategic organizational supports that are necessary to develop healthy research programs. The issue also includes the annual index for 2008.
“It was great to have collaboration between NASW Press and the National Institutes of Health on the special issue of the Social Work Research journal,” said Cheryl Bradley, NASW Press publisher. “Our teams worked hard to deliver and disseminate information to extend the knowledge of the profession on research capacity and infrastructure development in schools of social work. The Press would welcome the opportunity to collaborate with NIH again,” she said.
The decision to award funding to the Press is one step in the implementation of the recommendations of the NIH Plan for Social Work Research that was submitted to Congress in 2003.
One of the actions for the plan regards advising deans and directors of social work programs on how to develop research capacity and infrastructure and apply for funds.
With funding from OBSSR, the issue can reach an audience larger than Social Work Research subscribers.
“We wanted to reach a bigger audience because we felt the issue could provide a kind of blueprint for schools to use in their own efforts to build research capacity. To that end, we have articles from large, Research 1 universities as well as papers from smaller undergraduate programs. I felt it important to widen our usual readership to impact schools at all levels of interest and capacity,” said Jeffrey M. Jenson, outgoing editor-in-chief of Social Work Research.
Jenson was interested in doing a special issue on research infrastructure for other reasons.
“We were aware of the fact that significant advances in research infrastructure among schools of social work had been realized in the past 15 years. However, few descriptions of the models used by schools to make these advances had been told or written anywhere,” he said.
Jenson said that the issue is intended to serve as a historical account of the field’s status with regard to research infrastructure at a particular point in time. Furthermore, he added, it shows the commitment and progress to research by groups, such as the Institute for the Advancement of Social Work Research (IASWR), Society for Social Work and Research, the Association of Baccalaureate Social Work Program Directors and the National Association of Deans and Directors of Schools of Social Work.
Lisa M. O’Hearn, managing editor of journals and books for NASW Press, is confident the special issue will be a helpful resource to those who receive it. “Each and every one of the pieces makes an important contribution to social work research, often offering strategies and potential resources that will help deans, directors, and faculties continue to build research infrastructure and capacity in diverse schools and departments of social work,” she said.
More than 9,000 copies of the issue were mailed to the social work programs accredited by the Council on Social Work Education, members of the Mental Health NASW Specialty Practice Section and current subscribers of Social Work Research. In addition to three major conference exhibits in March, copies will be delivered to IASWR, NIH and NASW chapters. Anybody who visits the NASW Press Web site will be able to obtain complimentary access.