Research and social work practice - mutually beneficial endeavour or uneasy bedfellows?

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The 8th annual research conference ”Research and social work practice - mutually beneficial endeavour or uneasy bedfellows?“ of the European Research Institute for Social Work (ERIS), based at the University of Ostrava, took place on 13-14 October, 2014, at the University of Hertfordshire's Fielder Centre, its dedicated Conference Centre in Hatfield, England, in conjunction with the University of Hertfordshire's Department of Nursing (Learning Disabilities, Children and Mental Health Nursing) and Social Work.

The conference was attended by nearly 100 academics, managers and social work practitioners, Master's students and PhD students.


The conference commenced with welcomes from Prof Oldrich Chytil, Director of ERIS, Prof Brian Littlechild, Vice-Director of ERIS, and the Head of the Department of Nursing (Learning Disabilities, Children and Mental Health Nursing) and  Social Work, Ms Jackie Kelly.

There were 3 excellent and engaging invited keynote papers from Prof Donald Forrester, Director of the Tilda Goldberg Centre for Social Work and Social Care, University of Bedfordshire, UK: ”Research for practice, research in practice and research as practice: findings and reflections from current studies“; Lyn Romeo, Chief Social Worker for Adults, Office of the Chief Social Worker, UK Government: ”Absence of evidence isn't evidence of absence - improving social work practice“; and Prof Dr Peter Erath and Kerstin Fischer, Faculty of Social Work, Catholic University of Eichstaett, Germany: ”The German experience of social work research and its effects on practice“.

There was a very good response to the call for papers, and those accepted (30) were of high quality - for the full programme details please see the attached pdf of the conference programme.

A well-received innovation was the small group seminars, where participants could discuss the implications of papers around the themes of the conference, giving them the opportunity to consider how they could relate the ideas and issues presented at the conference back to their own thinking and experiences, and the possibilities in taking them back to their own work and agencies or universities.

A number of the participants also enjoyed a very sociable evening at the oldest public house in England, Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, in St Albans, which is 5 miles from Hatfield.

Overall, it was a very stimulating event for local and wider European participants, helping meet the  key ERIS aims of facilitating the professional development of research students and academic staff, providing knowledge for developing best practice across Europe, and offering knowledge and skills development for management and practitioners.

Updated: 29. 03. 2017