Research principles

We exist to collate, produce, and translate research about “What Works” in Children’s Social Care.

We use a variety of different methodologies, both qualitative and quantitative, to conduct research that can be used by social workers, leaders in the sector and policymakers to support children and their families.

To do this, all of our research needs to adhere to our four principles:

  • Research needs to focus on impact – how does a piece of practice work, how does it impact on social workers, and if we take one action rather than another, what happens as a result?
  • We need to bear in mind the nuance of social care. The lives of children and families are complex and complicated, and there are many factors involved in successful social work. What works in one setting for one family might not work in a different circumstance. We need to design our research to take into account – and even celebrate – this complexity.
  • Studies have to be useful – if we can’t identify who we think should be able to make use of a piece of research, it’s not for us. While there is certainly value in more exploratory research, this is not part of the Centre’s mission and objectives.
  • Everything we do needs to help empower the profession. Our research needs to be conducted with the profession, and not done to them – it needs to provide recommendations, not prescriptions, and it needs to support existing and innovative practice to grow the evidence base.

These pages will report on all our research projects – whether that’s pilot studies trying to understand an intervention and its promise, a randomised controlled trial to work out what the effect of an intervention is on outcomes, or a piece of data analysis. For every project, we’ll publish the research plan in advance, and the results at the end – so that we can make it as easy as possible to follow what’s going on, to replicate what we’ve done, and to make sure that research is conducted as rigorously as possible.