Present Your Research at the NASW Ohio Chapter Annual Conference

9 Aug

By Courtney Diener
Former NASW Ohio Chapter Intern

Completing and presenting research at a conference may seem daunting, but I, an undergraduate student, did it and so can you! Let me share the steps I took to complete my research and submit it to the NASW Ohio Chapter Annual Conference.

Why Do Research?

  • Research allows you to build on your classes and grow your expertise in social work.
  • Completing research allows you to build relationships with your professors and makes you a great candidate for graduate programs and future jobs.
  • It is also good for the profession. Every time social workers engage in research, we get to know our clients a little bit better and we become more prepared to work in the social work field.

When starting research, I learned it does not always mean large complicated projects that cost thousands of dollars to survey large numbers of people. Projects vary and can be as significant as you wish. I chose to observe at a local senior citizen center to study the impact of interactions with people from the college generation on older adults. I knew my research would not be mind-blowing or change the way we look at society, but the results of the research could encourage the senior center to create programs that feature enhanced interactions with older adults.

Important Steps:

1. Pick your topic.

What is interesting to you? What might be needed on your campus or with populations you are interested in? If possible, tie your research to a class. Some professors may even offer college credit for research projects.

2. Consult your program faculty.

Does anyone in your faculty have similar interests? They can be great sources of information and help. Many professors will be happy to help you complete the project because it is good for you as a student and can be beneficial for the department.

3. Consult your campus research offices.

Many campuses have offices dedicated to research. This is where you will likely find information about funding. Some universities offer grants and scholarships for students to cover the cost of research. If no funding is available and you still think you will need funding, search for outside agencies that may be interested your research. Also consider using free survey generators and systems that may reduce costs.

4. Create a plan on how you will conduct your research.

Who should be involved? How will you gain participants? What is your hypothesis and how will you measure results? How will you gain consent from participants? Who will benefit from your research? This is where you work out the details needed to complete your research.

5. Seek permission to conduct your research.

When working with human subjects, you need to seek approval from your university’s Institutional Review Board. The IRB is a group of individuals who work for the university to ensure that the research is safe and does not harm participants. The IRB will help ensure you get the consent you need for your research project. You also want to update your program so they are aware of your research project. Make any adjustments needed to complete your research.

6. Conduct your research and conclude your findings.

Implement your research plan. Record any challenges or issues you find in your plan for further research. Summarize your findings. What did your research tell you? Was there anything new or surprising? Did your research support or reject your hypothesis? What can be taken away from your research?

7. Submit to present at a conference.

Follow the conference deadlines. Sometimes, this step will actually occur before your research has been conducted. If this is the case, send in your plan for completing your research with your hypothesis. You can apply to present your research at the NASW Ohio Chapter Annual Conference at www.naswoh.org.

8. Create your presentation.

If accepted, review the conference requirements for creating your presentation. Some conferences will accept you to present a workshop, some will ask you to present a poster and some will ask you to submit a paper presentation. Posters can be created at office stores and print shops. Some universities have their own preferred office shops that offer discounts to students. Make sure your poster is professional and meets the requirements of the conference. Learn more about poster presentations at the NASW Ohio Chapter conference at www.naswoh.org.

9. Present.

Follow the details given on presenting at the conference. Be professional and arrive on time. Be prepared to explain your research to conference-goers who may be interested in your research and ready to answer questions. Social workers will be interested in the research you are doing as it impacts the work that they do! Send thank you letters to the people who helped you research and put the experience on your resume. Make sure to share your results with any interested organizations and groups that may benefit from the information.

If you need additional information contact your professors or email the NASW Ohio Chapter at info@nasw.org or visit www.naswoh.org. We look forward to seeing your poster presentation proposal and look forward to seeing you at the conference November 21-22, 2013 in Columbus.

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