• Development of scholar-based random sampling methodology using gerontological social work research as an exemplar

      Smith, Charles A.; Harrington, Donna (2005)
      This study had two primary purposes: First, to explore a new methodology to conduct studies of studies of social work research status that might provide better reliability, minimize validity threats, and require less resources; and secondly, to utilize that new methodology to examine the current status of geriatric social work research. A multi-stage sampling process was utilized in order to isolate and obtain 248 unique aging focused peer reviewed articles published from 1999 to 2003 by self-identified geriatric social work scholars. Articles were content coded using typologies borrowed from prior studies. Five waves of inter-rater, and one intra-rater, checks were utilized to maximize reliability. Descriptive, bivariate, and multiple regression analyses were conducted to examine the current status of geriatric social work research. Bivariate analyses (e.g., chi square and independent t-tests) were utilized to examine whether random sampling produced results than would have been obtained from a convenience total sample. Findings from this study indicated a significantly higher proportion of empirical research (71.4%) within social work gerontology than found in other prior studies. Findings also indicated that while survey research designs continue to dominate the research literature, utilization of more sophisticated statistical techniques and research focused on explanatory knowledge vs. descriptive knowledge were significantly higher than in prior studies. Findings also indicated that the new random sampling methodology produced virtually identical findings to prior methodologies, while increasing reliability, at approximately one-fifth of the resource utilization in prior studies.;This study provides a cost-effective methodology to conduct future studies of social work research status that focus either on social work overall, or on a specific subject area within the discipline (e.g., gerontology). Findings were also supportive of a call for increased interdisciplinary collaboration. Interdisciplinary collaboration was significantly associated with increased external funding, and the development of explanatory vs. descriptive knowledge. It is hoped that this new methodology will provide a means to conduct periodic systematic reviews of research status over time that are comparable to each other. The methodology is both more reliable and cost-effective, and will allow for longitudinal trend analyses.