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Information Literacy and the Social Work Researcher: Scholarship as Conversation

Scholarship as Conversation

Scholarship is like a conversation where ideas are created, debated, and weighed against one another over time. Information users and creators come together to discuss meaning, with the effective researcher adding his or her voice to the conversation. Developing familiarity with the sources of evidence, methods, and modes of discourse in the social work field assists novice learners to enter the conversation. New forms of scholarly and research conversations provide more avenues in which a wide variety of individuals may have a voice in the conversation. Providing attribution to relevant previous research is also an obligation of participation in the conversation. It enables the conversation to move forward and strengthens one’s voice in the conversation.

Best Practices in Joining the Scholarly Conversation

  • Contribute to the scholarly conversation, such as a local online community, guided discussion, research journal, conference presentation/poster session
  • Identify the contribution that particular articles, books, and other scholarly pieces make to social work knowledge about current issues
  • Summarize the changes in scholarly perspective over time on a particular issue within social work
  • Recognize that a given scholarly work may not represent the only or even the majority perspective on the issue

Becoming Part of the Conversation

  • Understand that you, as doctoral students, are entering the middle of the scholarly conversation, not the end
  • Seek out conversations taking place in Social Work
  • See yourself as a contributor to scholarship rather than only a consumer of it 
  • Critically evaluate contributions made by others and see yourself as a producer as well as consumer, of information
  • Recognize that scholarly conversations take place in various venues
  • Suspend judgment on the value of a particular piece of scholarship until the larger context for the scholarly conversation is better understood