2018 – 2022

I. Strategic Direction


Social work research is critical to building an inclusive, just, and equitable society.


The Society for Social Work and Research is a catalyst for excellence in developing, implementing, and translating research that advances social work practice and social policy that improves human well-being.


The Society for Social Work and Research fully endorses the core values of the social work profession as ensconced in the National Association of Social Workers’ Code of Ethics[1]: service, social justice, dignity and worth of the person, importance of human relationships, integrity, and competence.

Shared values:

  • Rigorous Research for Social Justice
    • High quality, rigorous research is essential for promoting a just and equitable society.
  • Ethical Research
    • Social work researchers should be held to the highest ethical standards.
  • Evidence-Based Practice
    • Social work practice must be based on the best available evidence.
  • Interdisciplinary Research
    • Collaboration of researchers across disciplines improves the quality and impact of research.
  • Capacity Building
    • Research training and mentoring is necessary throughout a social work researcher’s career.
  • Collaboration
    • Collaboration between researchers, practitioners, and stakeholders (e.g., communities, policymakers, clients, and other stakeholders.) improves the quality of both research and practice.

II. Strategic Priorities

1. Quality and Excellence in Social Work Research

Strategic Aim:  Support rigor, innovations, and enhance the quality of social work research.

Objective 1: Increase SSWR’s capacity to support high-quality research.

  • Develop a fiscal infrastructure to continue the support of excellence in social work research.
  • Develop funding opportunities to support social work researchers’ engagement in research.
  • Advocate for increased federal funding for social work-related research.
  • Partner with foundations to establish funding programs or funding criteria to support innovative research through seed or pilot grants.
  • Increase opportunities for members to learn about cutting-edge research methodologies and new forms of rigorous dissemination.
  • Provide opportunities for members to develop and investigate alternative forms of rigorous scholarship and dissemination.

Objective 2: Enhance ethics in social work research.

  • Develop a Code of Conduct of Responsible Social Work Research.
  • Develop a cross-institutional training platform that supports the Code of Conduct of Responsible Social Work Research.

Objective 3: Expand the social justice focus of social work research.

  • Promote research about social justice at the SSWR annual Conference.

2. Build Research Capacity

Strategic Aim: Build research capacity across the career lifespan of social work scholars.

Objective 1:  Increase research knowledge and skills of early career scholars.

  • Increase training opportunities for early career scholars on research methods, collaboration/team science, dissemination, and grant writing.
  • Make SSWR training more accessible using technology and multiple training platforms.
  • Collaborate with the Group for the Advancement of Doctoral Education in Social Work (GADE) and Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) to develop and conduct research training and professional development activities for social work doctoral students.
  • Increase support for doctoral students to attend and participate in SSWR.
  • Expand mechanisms and opportunities for members to network, develop research agendas, consult, collaborate, and mentoring.

Objective 2:  Increase career development supports for mid-career and senior scholars.

  • Conduct a needs assessment to identify the strengths, needs, and priorities of mid-career and senior scholars.
  • Develop training or skill development opportunities for mid-career and senior scholars.

Objective 3:  Increase the capacity of mentors of doctoral students and early career scholars.

  • Institute mentor training sessions at the SSWR Conference to enhance the competencies of mentors of doctoral students and early career scholars.
  • Collaborate with GADE and CSWE to develop and implement strategies to enhance the mentoring skills of doctoral mentors, chairs, and advisors.

3. Member Engagement, Experiences, and Services

Strategic Aim: SSWR will intensify efforts to increase membership diversity, engage members in the association, and improve the experience and satisfaction of members.

Objective 1: Increase the diversity of SSWR membership in terms of race, ethnicity, nation, institutional structure, research setting, degree, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

  • Develop and implement a plan to increase membership diversity.
  • Strengthen methods for assessing members’ experiences, using results to continuously improve SSWR member services.
  • Actively engage first-time conference attendees to become active and contributing members of the society.

Objective 2: Increase services and opportunities for members to increase engagement in the society.        

  • Develop and expand volunteer opportunities for the broader membership.
  • Increase opportunities and develop structures for members to network with one another.
  • Target the diverse interests of SSWR members through more frequent and substantive communications.

4. Communication and Dissemination

Strategic Aim:  Communicate and disseminate high-quality social work research to internal and external stakeholders in order to inform solutions to real-world problems.

Objective 1:  Increase use of social work research in policy decision-making.

  • Train members to engage in evidence-informed policy advocacy.
  • Expand partnerships with national organizations (e.g., Social Work, Social Sciences, Government Relations) to translate and disseminate social work research findings to policymakers.

Objective 2:  Increase timely dissemination of social work research findings in multiple venues.

  • Engage multiple media platforms to communicate social work research findings.
  • Make conference research materials available to a broad audience.
  • Publicize research findings published in the Journal of the Society for Social Work and Research to a broader audience.

Objective 3:    Improve access to research about evidence-informed social work interventions.

  • Develop partnerships with national and international social work organizations to provide social workers with access to social work research findings.
  • Provide access for members to social work clearinghouses about evidence-informed social work interventions.
  • Identify, develop, and implement multiple methods for distributing information on evidence-informed social work interventions beyond the SSWR conference.

Approved by Board of Directors

 April 14, 2018

[1] National Association of Social Workers. (2008). Code of Ethics. https://www.socialworkers.org/pubs/code/default.asp

Download PDF SSWR Strategic Plan 2018-2022