Identifying Common Barriers in Achieving Research Goals

Identifying Common Barriers in Achieving Research Goals

There are barriers that child welfare agencies face in pursuing research goals deemed necessary to advance the field. These

include:

 

Lack of resources and funding to carry out a research plan

Consideration should be given to whether or not there are sufficient internal staff with experience in research design and statistics to conduct the research projects of interest as well as whether or not there is a sustained source of funding to contract out for research studies in a planned, productive manner, as opposed to a reactive or crisis-driven manner.

 

Mandates from state legislature, governor’s office or budget office to conduct particular research studies

 

  • As a precondition of funding or authorization for new initiatives, the state legislature, governor’s office or budget office will
  • often require the agency to evaluate the implementation and effectiveness of a program, policy or practice.
  • Legislators may also introduce legislation mandating a study examining an issue of concern to certain advocacy or special interest groups.
  • There may be pressure to provide research results documenting the effectiveness of a program, policy or practice when submitting budget or legislative requests.

 

Conflict between need for timely information to inform decisions and the reality that some research questions require longitudinal data collection and analysis

Agency policymakers often are looking for answers to research questions within a few months to a year in order to guide policy, programmatic and practice changes and the development of new initiatives, but some research questions can only be addressed through longitudinal research that may take years to complete.

 

Research perceived as not helpful in improving performance and decision­making

Consumers of research may believe that results will not be used appropriately and may reflect unsuccessful performance in some area functions. Research should be used to analyze and understand performance and identify areas to make system improvements and answer questions that help advance practice.

 

Leadership changes

When there is a new administration, the goals of the research agenda may shift.

 

Lack of understanding of equivalent groups for comparison purposes

When comparison groups are not equivalent, the internal validity of the research is compromised. That is, the ability to attribute a causal relationship is weakened. The best method to address this is to use random assignment so that the only differences between the groups are due to chance. When this is not possible, a us ful strategy is identifying a comparison group whose

characteristics are similar to the characteristics of the treatment group.






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