Social work research as a practice of transparency - Online Doctoral Schools


TiSSA organizes, together with the Department of Social Work & Social Pedagogy of Ghent University and the Centre for Sociological Research of the KU Leuven (Belgium), and with the support of the Doctoral School of Social and Behavioral Sciences of Ghent University, a series of online lectures as part of the online doctoral course "Social work research as a practice of transparency"

The course will be spread over four training days, each consisting of two main parts, in total 24 contact hours.

Each morning session is plenary for all interested researchers (3 hours) and will consist of two lectures by (international) experts in conducting social work research. In the afternoon, we organize interactive seminars with the enrolled PhD students and lecturers. Each PhD student will present his/her work and the accompanying questions during one of the training days.

Target audience

All PhD researchers in the field of social work and social sciences can enroll for this doctoral school. 


As social work as an academic discipline is normative, researchers need to make this normativity transparent. This implies that different areas of choice in research are critically analysed and choices are made explicit. These different areas of choice refer to the following questions: (1) what is the position of the researcher; (2) what is the definition of the problem and who has the power to define it; (3) what are the methods to be used and how are they to be used; and (4) how are the results interpreted, represented and disseminated? In this course we examine and discuss (some of) these key choices, discussing the considerations of PhD researchers in making sounds choices during the research process.

Objectives and learning outcomes

The choices made by social work researchers, although they can seem to be very obvious ones, often remain implicit during the different research processes. This weakens social work as an academic discipline as its profile remains unclear in relation to adjacent disciplines such as sociology, psychology and educational sciences. The aim of the course is to train researchers to develop their social work research as a practice of transparency in order to strengthen the identity of their work. This refers to the reflexive capacity of researchers in which they need to learn to make their perspective on research and their research topic and the choices they often make implicitly, explicit and bring these into the public debate. 

Session 1: January 27, 2023 - Historical perspectives in social work research 

Lecturers:  Prof. Lieselot De Wilde (Ghent University, Belgium) and Prof. Stefan Kongeter (Eastern Switzerland University of Applied Sciences (OST)  

In this first session, we discuss the value and relevance of historical research in social work. In addition, a variety of historical methods will be presented, including their characteristics and how their application in social work research can illuminate the effect of past developments on current social work practices and policies.

Session 2: March 17, 2023

Ethnographic approaches in social work research

Lecturers:  Robin Vandevoordt (Ghent University, Belgium) and Prof. Sarah Murru (KU Leuven, Belgium)

Ethnographic research enhances a contextualized understanding of peoples' perspectives and experiences, which is necessary for social work practice and policy. It can also go so far as to bring about explications of larger structural, or institutional, forms of ruling and oppression. There are a wide variety of ways in which to engage with ethnographic research. In this session, we will discuss different methods and illustrative cases of the opportunities of ethnography in social work. More specific, we will elaborate on institutional ethnography and ethnographic research in migration studies.

Session 3: April 28, 2023

Oppressed voices in social work research

Lecturers: Prof. Urban Nothdurfter (Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Italy) and Prof. Florin Lazar (University of Bucharest, Romania)

In the third session, we discuss the challenge in social work to include “oppressed voices”. We will focus on the choices that researchers need to make in relation to bringing in these voices in research, with examples regarding the development of social work practice with lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people and the HIV stigma.

Session 4: May 12, 2023

A social-spatial approach to social work research

Lecturers: Prof. Griet Roets (Ghent University, Belgium) and Prof. Christian Reutlinger (Eastern Switzerland University of Applied Sciences (OST))

In the fourth session, socio-spatial approaches and their relevance for theory and practice of social work will be discussed. As a ‘spatial turn’ has been introduced into social work research, associated with different methods of data collection, we will elaborate on the potential of socio-spatial research and their connectedness to spatial relations of power.

Meeting ID: 926 9599 3717 Passcode: 2XTyYtr5

Organising committee  

Prof. dr. Rudi Roose (Department of Social Work and Social Pedagogy, Ghent University and chair of Tissa)

Prof. dr. Griet Roets (Department of Social Work and Social Pedagogy, Ghent University)

Prof. dr. Koen Hermans ( LUCAS - Centre for Care Research and Consultancy - Leuven University)

Prof. dr. Wim Van Lancker ( Centre for Sociological Research - Leuven University)

Nele Feryn (Secretary of TiSSA)