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'Research costs time and money and cannot be justified unless it informs policy and practice'.

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Introduction

'Research costs time and money and cannot be justified unless it informs policy and practice'. Critically discuss, illustrating your answer with material you have studied in Units 19-21. There are two different types of research - research that makes a theoretical contribution such as testing hypothesis, or answering research questions and research, which makes a practical contribution by assessing policy or practice. However there is no clear distinction between the two, as Aldgate in audio band 1 defines research as the "testing out of ideas" and the "questioning of assumptions that are made by policy makers and practitioners, (1:59), which places the definition of research in both categories. Other research, which falls into both categories, is Takei's (2001), which made a theoretical contribution to our understanding of deaf infants' babbling, and although did not inform policy or practice immediately it may well do so in the future. This essay aims to show how research, which makes only a theoretical contribution, can be just as justifiable as practical research, using papers from childhood studies, health and social welfare settings and also education as examples. Finally, it will also look at the ways in which research is disseminated, which is an important part of the research process and also important if policy and practice are to influence the relevant people. In considering whether the cost of research can only be justified if it informs policy and practice, McKechnie and Hobbs (2004) ...read more.

Middle

such as snowball sampling, semi-structured in-depth interviews, and the transcription of interviews all were time consuming and cost money in terms of manpower. However, this research could also be said to be justifiable, having had direct implications to the services, which were provided for young black people leaving care. Had these examples not informed policy or practice but just enhanced our understanding of children's thoughts and experiences in these areas, surely the money and time spent would still have been worthwhile? I will now endeavour to show how the time and money spent on theoretical research is just as justifiable as research, which only makes a practical contribution. Sutton's (2004) research into the link between bullying and social cognition was costly, especially in terms of time spent conducting the research which involved reading 11 short stories to each of the 193 children, collecting and assessing answers from 2123 readings! Further time would have been spent on preparing and administering questionnaires to the children, and interviewing teaching staff to find out who the bullies were and who fitted in the other categories. This study was costly in terms of time and money, but was justified by the contribution made to our understanding of the relationship between bullying and social cognition skills. It highlighted the fact that whilst most bullying policies are based on the opinion that bullies have poor cognition skills, Sutton's research challenges this by showing that this is not the case. ...read more.

Conclusion

It has to be questioned therefore whether as valuable in terms of money and time as Pickett's research was in practical and theoretical terms, the fact that the dissemination perhaps did not reach the people it needed to and therefore might not have been worth he time or money involved. However, during the research a new way of measuring certain types of data was developed that could be used in future studies so it may have had value after all. To imply that research which costs time and money is not valuable unless it is of practical use, is condemning the knowledge, which derives from theoretical research, simply because it doesn't inform policy and practice directly? However knowledge gained by research whether on a theoretical or practical level will ultimately have some effect on the policies and practice of our society. This essay has used research papers to show that it is not always possible to know in advance precisely which research will be useful and which not; even for the research which would benefit end-users, other pressures can lead to research being ignored by policy makers and practitioners. I have tried to show in this essay that the value of research is not just in the information that it can supply to policy makers and practitioners, it can in cases contributes to existing knowledge. Furthermore, research can benefit end-users without it necessarily informing policy or practice directly. Finally, the potential value that research has cannot be fully realised if it is not disseminated in such a way that people can access it easily. ...read more.

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