The Institute for Clinical Social Work

Syllabi Archive

RMDL 512: Research II Distance Learning Program

Ph.D. Program - Distance Learning: spring 2012-13

Linda Freedman, LCSW, LMFT, PhD

  • Office: 773-271-7111
  • Cell: 773-495-1187

Distance Learning students are scheduled for two sessions on-site at ICSW.

Regretfully, I’ll be unable to meet with students on these days April 27 and June 8.

They are rescheduled for Monday nights, May 5 and May 19, between 8-10 p.m.  These classes will be recorded if for some reason you cannot attend.  But if there is a group quiz on either of those nights, you will miss the benefit of class interaction.  You can still take the quiz if you miss class, but this is an exception only for May 5 and May 19.

If you miss a quiz on our regularly scheduled Thursday night classes, you cannot make it up.  The only other exceptions are funerals and illness (yours).

Our usual time will be Thursday, 8-10 pm:

May 1, 15, 29

June 12, 26

July 17


This course is taught virtually in a lecture/discussion format on the web.  Class “attendance” is required.  For students who miss more than one class session (except in a documented personal emergency), the overall course grade will be lowered one level.  Students who miss more than two class sessions will automatically fail the course.  In cases of personal emergency, the student will be asked to withdraw from the course and retake it the following academic year. 

Required Texts & Readings

  • American Psychological Association (2001). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (5th Ed.). Washington D.C.: Author.
  • Rubin, A. & Babbie, E. (2008). Research methods for social work (6th Ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Brooks/Cole Publishing Co. 
  • Fortune, A. E. & Reid, W. J. (1999) Research in social work. New York: Columbia University Press
  • Gorey, K., Thyer, B. & Pawluck, D. (1998). Differential effectiveness of prevalent social work practice models: A meta-analysis. Social Work, 43(3), 269-278.
  • Oakes, J. (2002). Risks and wrongs in social science research. An evaluator's guide to the IRB. Evaluation Research, 26(5), 443-479.
  • Myers, L. & Thyer, B. (1997). Should social work clients have the right to effective treatment? Social Work, 97(42), 288-298.

Recommended Readings

  • Viswanathan, M. (2005). Measurement error and research design. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.
  • Strauss, A. & Corbin, J. (1990 or later edition). Basics of qualitative research: Grounded theory procedures and techniques. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
  • Locke, L.F., Spirduso, W. W., & Silverman, S. J. (1993). Proposals that work. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
  • Institute for Clinical Social Work web page –

Additional readings are on reserve at the Laura Kramer Fischer Library. Additional readings are also electronic articles available on the web or through library resources, including inter-library loan.

Please note.  Required readings and assignments will be posted on the class blog, along with an updated syllabus if it changes.  Students should check daily.

Course Description

The purpose of this course is to continue provide incoming Ph.D. students the opportunity to familiarize themselves and become comfortable with the research process, particularly the doctoral research process.

The underlying aim is to assist students as they design mock-up research proposals.  

Students learn:

  1. to explore problems important to the field of social work
  2. to pose research questions about such problems
  3. to suggest hypotheses based upon theory
  4. to define and operationalize variables
  5. to suggest measurement strategies
  6. to propose data collection methodology
  7. to suggest how to present and disseminate research findings 

Another aim is to provide an opportunity for students to become knowledgeable about the philosophical orientations and methodological details of a variety of research methods that may be used in social work research.

This course will not provide students with expertise in any one-research area, but will provide a good foundation for further study and education. The hope is to promote flexibility in future research endeavors.

This course in particular will be a collaborative effort, drawing upon the experiences and expertise of all class members. You will be sharing your work by posting it on the blog (, although you are welcome to do that anonymously.

Class in our virtual classroom will be delivered in discussion and seminar format, with students potentially presenting in sessions. The format will allow for a great deal of interaction and lively discussion, and it is expected that exchanges be conducted with openness and a desire to learn.

Students who are not able to participate because they are having technological difficulties will not get “participation points”, 16% of the course grade.

While a reading list has been complied to act as a framework for discussion, students are encouraged to introduce other articles of interest. The written assignments will allow students to focus on their area of substantive interest.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of the course, students should be able to:

  • Promote critical analytic skills for developing, implementing, and critiquing research problems and questions appropriate to all levels of practice, including practice at work sites.
  • Select appropriate quantitative and qualitative approaches to guide research on a particular topic, including the use of available data, experimental and quasi-experimental designs, surveys, intensive interviewing, and participant observation.
  • Implement procedures for assuring the ethical conduct of research, including the necessity of obtaining informed consent; inclusion of safeguards to insure the confidentiality of research data; assurance of voluntary participation in research; and an appreciation for not using vulnerable populations as research subjects just because they may be more available.
  • Use current technology, including the Internet and a variety of existing social science and social work databases for understanding specific human conditions and biopsychosocial interventions. 
  • Design studies that contribute to knowledge about social work clients, practice, and policy.
  • Critique existing research in terms of its ability to rule out other possible explanations for findings. 
  • Critique existing research in terms of its relevance and generalizability, particularly to women, racial, ethnic, other minority groups, and people from different socioeconomic classes.
  • Evaluate research according to principles of social justice, cultural competence, and utility. 
  • Develop procedures for coping with organizational and sociopolitical issues in agency-based research concerning such issues as how research projects get framed to how data access can be affected.

Course Expectations

Students are expected to complete assigned readings in advance of class meetings. In addition to assigned readings in the text, there are required journal articles, which raise important issues about the topic in question. Everyone is absolutely expected to complete all assigned readings, and to log on to every class session prepared.

All students will be held accountable for adhering to academic and nonacademic standards of conduct as described in the ICSW Student Handbook, available on the ICSW website.

As a teaching tool aimed at research publication, all papers for this class should be written according to APA style.  Note that this is an exception to ICSW policy, which normally requires use of the ICSW Style Manual. It is assumed that all written work will be completed independently, unless otherwise specified. All written work must be typed with a word processing program (e.g., MS Word) with the exception of entries posted on the class blog,

A word about web literacy and prerequisites:  If you do not know how to access a website, scroll down a web page, use links or read a webpage, you will be lost in this class.  You MUST have these basic skills to take this class. There are some pointers on the website, but basic web literacy is expected of every doctoral student, if not basic HTML, which is preferable.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Accommodations will be made for students with disabilities. Students needing accommodations for any type of disability must do the following:

  1. Go to the ICSW Office of Disability Services to obtain confidential verification of the disability and a statement of accommodations recommended by that office.
  2. Show the ICSW Office of Disability Services accommodation letter to the instructor of the class for which the student requests accommodation.
  3. Show the accommodation letter to the instructor at the beginning of the course or before the start of the course.

Questions and Concerns

I am willing to discuss problems about course work during the week.  Please do not try to contract me on Friday nights or Saturdays or Jewish holidays, even if you have what you think is an emergency about a grade.  I will understand and make exceptions for you about assignments if you email.  Do not hesitate to ask for clarification about anything having to do with this class.

If difficulty arises, please email me to set up a time to talk.  Do not hesitate to ask for clarification about anything having to do with this class.

Assignments, Tests, & Grading

The object of this class is that you learn and come to enjoy the research process.  To this end you’re afforded the opportunity to teach one another.

You will be posting some assignments on the class blog,   

To that end you’ll need a Gmail account.  If you don’t have one, go to and set one up.  I suggest your initials followed by a “dot” followed by “icsw”.  For example, my gmail account for this class is  Don’t use it to contact me

Use my ICSW email account, (which is punted to the one I actually check daily).  Once you have a gmail account, email that email address to me so that I can invite you to be a blogger on the blog.  I’ll walk you through everything, don’t worry.

Meanwhile, think up a nice handle to call yourself. First names are fine.

Grades will be based on three criteria:

  1. Class participation—(8 classes, 2 points per class, 16% of course grade) Participation is defined as on-time attendance for complete class sessions, attentive non-verbal behavior; offering comments relevant to course discussions, and active participation in class exercises. Class sessions not attended will be graded 0. It is not possible to "make up" missed class sessions, except for May 5 and May 19.  The procedure for participation points on that day will be posted on the blog.
  2. Assignments—(6 assignments, 4 points each, 24% of course grade)
  3. Quizzes (8 quizzes, 5 points each, 40% of course grade)
  4. Final exam (20 points, 20% of course grade)

Course grades will be based on the total number of accumulated points.

90-100 points= A  80-89 points= B, 70-79 points= C, 60-69 points= D,  < 60 = E

Course Outline

I will email specific reading assignments to you for class, but basically read all three assigned books.  Skim through them first and pace yourself according to where we are holding in class.  Even though you have read the first half of Rubin & Babbie, read it again.  We will be revisiting that material and you will be responsible for it for the final.


Please note that links to some course readings have been purged from archived syllabi. Electronic texts on the ICSW website are protected by copyright law. These files are made available strictly for individual, educational use and may not be copied or distributed in any way. Distribution of copyrighted material to non-enrolled individuals or ICSW students will be considered an act of Academic Dishonesty and be dealt with accordingly as indicated in the Student Manual. Federal penalties for copyright infringement may be found at