SPRING recognises that many of the newer professions struggle to develop a credible research identity whilst also establishing sound practice theory and knowledge. Yet one of the exciting and distinctive aspects of professions such as social work is the capacity to create new knowledge in complex human and social situations. There is a clear need to research this practice in ways which allow us to further develop this knowledge, and in ways which allow us to better represent these complexities.

SPRING's main objective is to bring both practitioners and researchers together, and to help foster practice research activities.

SPRING was established in 2007 by the Division of Social Work Studies, Social Sciences at the University of Southampton, under the leadership of Professor Jan Fook. In October 2008 Gillian Ruch (Head of the Division of Social Work Studies) took over the leadership of SPRING. In March 2009, the SPRING steering group held its inaugural meeting: its purpose is to facilitate SPRING in furthering practice research within Hampshire and its environs and to provide direction on its wider activities.

What is practice research?

Any research which contributes directly to our understanding of professional practice.

Examples of practice research:

  • Describing current practices
  • Investigating how policies are implemented
  • Theorising current practices
  • Identifying how service user experiences inform practice development
  • Working with professionals who want to improve current practices
  • Documenting the experiences of practitioners
  • Investigating the complexities of practice
  • Developing methods and paradigms which enhance research of practice
  • Researching the evidence base of practice

SPRING's activities:

These are currently being reviewed, but have included:

  • Developing a network of interested researchers and practitioners
  • Discussion forums for practice research issues
  • Papers in progress series for peer support whilst writing practice research publications
  • A resource file of practice research literature
  • Linking practitioners and researchers
  • Continuing professional development opportunities
  • Practice research projects

Joining SPRING

Anyone who is interested in practice research, or conducting practice research projects, is welcome to register on SPRING's network list. You may be primarily a practitioner, researcher or have both roles.

Those new to research are encouraged to register.

Register now