SSWR Doctoral Student Research Spotlight

The SSWR Doctoral Student Members Task Force is launching a new series featuring research conducted by doctoral students. 

The series is intended to bring awareness and attention to the research being done by social work doctoral students, as well as important issues in the field. One spotlight piece will be featured each week on the SSWR Doctoral Student Member Blog & Facebook Page during the fall 2018 semester. 

We invite doctoral student members to submit a brief piece describing their research using the template provided (link below). 

COLLECTION PERIOD ENDS: October 31, 2018 at 11:59pm

Another collection period will be scheduled in late fall/winter 2018 if additional features are needed to complete the fall series. A second collection period is planned for January 2019 for features to run during the spring 2019 semester. 

Eligibility Criteria: 
(1) Doctoral student in a social work or social welfare program. 
(2) Current SSWR member. 
(3) Submission of completed piece by the collection period deadline. 

Please use the link below to submit your piece:

If you have questions, please contact Catherine Kramer ( 

Introducing the SSWR Doctoral Student Members: Mentoring Committee!

Hello from the Mentoring Committee of the SSWR Doctoral Task Force. Our team includes five doctoral students from across the country. Last year we launched the Coffee with a Scholar Program, a mentor matching program that matches doctoral students and faculty members for one-hour coffee meetings at SSWR’s annual conference. We matched 40 mentors and students this past year and will be hosting the program again this year. When you register for SSWR, indicate your interest in this program so you can meet a mentor with expertise in your content area or in a research method of interest. We hope to match up to 75 students this year! We look forward to providing mentoring information and opportunity to doctoral student members of SSWR. 

Kess Ballentine, Doctoral Student, University of Pittsburgh 
I'm Kess Ballentine, a doctoral student at the University of Pittsburgh. I study the effect of work on family life and parenting. Currently I am examining the potential relationships between low-wage work environments and poor child well-being and how these relationships may differ by race and culture viewpoints on parenthood. I am serving as the Chair of the Mentoring Subcommittee and feel strongly that effective mentoring can improve individual academic careers and promote more women and people of color in academia and social work leadership. Keep a look out here for materials to help you improve your relationships with your mentors! Also, sign up for Coffee with a Scholar when you register for SSWR to start building relationships outside your school!  

Abha Rai, PhD Candidate, University of Georgia
My name is Abha Rai and I am a doctoral candidate at the University of Georgia, Athens. I am currently in my third year of my doctoral journey as well as in the SSWR Doctoral Student Taskforce. My area of research interest pertains to issues of domestic violence among the South Asian immigrant community residing in the United States. I am currently serving as the communications lead of the Mentoring Committee. I am really excited about our plans for the committee this year and also about the resources that we hope to create for doctoral students. Our flagship program-Coffee with a Scholar will be rolled out again at SSWR this year. Be sure to keep an eye out while registering for SSWR and allow yourself an opportunity to engage with an academic mentor. 

Thomas Bane, Doctoral Student, CUNY Graduate Center 
I'm Thomas Bane, a doctoral student at the CUNY Graduate Center. My area of focus is the intersection of health systems transformation and health equity. This is my second year on the Task force. I hope to see more opportunities created for PhD students to meet and interact with leading SW scholars in their field of interest. Coffee with a Scholar is a unique opportunity for both faculty and PhD Students to interact, so I hope you will take advantage of it! Sign up when you register for SSWR!

Stephenie Howard, Doctoral Student, Howard University 
Hi, my name is Stephenie Howard. I am a doctoral student at Howard University with the School of Social Work. I have been a member of the SSWR Doctoral Student Taskforce for three years. My area of research is trauma, and my dissertation explores the impact of vicarious trauma on children. I hope that this information will enhance the ability of social workers to respond to and protect vulnerable populations. As one of the founding members of the mentorship subcommittee, I am excited that we have been able to create new opportunities for doctoral students to receive assistance and support from scholars outside of their university. I look forward to continuing these efforts, and I hope that you will join us next year for Coffee with a Scholarly at SSWR’s Annual Conference.

Grace Gowdy, Doctoral Candidate, Boston University 
Hi all! I am a doctoral candidate in Boston University’s School of Social Work. My research interests include community and family influence on individual upward mobility, with a focus on the adolescent stage. My dissertation is on informal mentors and their ability to promote economic upward mobility for low-income youth. I have been a part of this mentoring group for a few years and am excited for watch the Coffee with a Scholar program grow. I hope you take part this year and have a great time connecting!




Introducing the SSWR Doctoral Student Members: Communications Committee! 

The Communications Committee is responsible for outreach to SSWR doctoral student members including making student members aware of events and opportunities offered through SSWR, as well as providing resources to support student work and development. We maintain a blog located on the SSWR website as well as the Facebook page. Last year we launched a new series, This is How I Work: Social Work Research Edition, which is based on the series from Lifehacker and showcased how social work scholars go about their work. This year we will continue that series and launch a new one to highlight the research done by doctoral student members (SSWR Doctoral Student Research Highlight). If you have an idea of how the Communications Committee can better support you as a student member, please contact the committee co-chairs, Sara Terrana ( and Catherine Kramer (

Sara Terrana, Doctoral Candidate, University of California, Los Angeles  
I am Sara Terrana, a doctoral candidate at UCLA – Luskin School of Public Affairs in the Department of Social Welfare. My research focuses on the nonprofit and voluntary sector, particularly community-based organizations, neighborhoods of concentrated disadvantage, and social inequality. I teach sections and courses at both UCLA and the Columbia School of Social Work. These have included classes in statistics, human behavior and the social environment, social work policy, and advocacy in social work practice. Prior to my doctoral studies, I earned my MSW from UCLA in 2013. During that time, I completed internship placements in Long Beach, California, and Johannesburg, South Africa. I also hold an MA from Teachers College – Columbia University (2011), where I focused on macro practices and urban poverty. In addition, I served in the Peace Corps in the Republic of Vanuatu from 2005–07. 

Catherine Kramer, Doctoral Student, University at Albany – SUNY 
I am Catherine Kramer, a doctoral student at the University at Albany - SUNY. My work focuses on young people who experience disadvantage and marginalization due to economic poverty, social isolation, and social exclusion. My research takes me across multiple settings – educational, juvenile justice and child welfare – in pursuit of organizational designs and practices that ensure healthy development and opportunity for young people. Currently I work as a research assistant for the NYKids Project, which studies the practices of schools succeeding at serving marginalized young people, and as a research associate with the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice. I am a licensed social worker and have a master's degree in public administration. 

Jonah DeChants, Doctoral Student, University of Denver
I am Jonah DeChants, a doctoral student at the University of Denver's Graduate School of Social Work. I study the experiences of homeless youth, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth, and approaches to youth empowerment. Prior to coming to GSSW, I worked for the Philadelphia Department of Human Services, supervising a federal planning grant which examined risk and protective factors of homelessness among youth aging out of foster care. I have a Masters of Social Policy from the University of Pennsylvania's School of Social Policy and Practice.

Kyle T. Ganson, Doctoral Candidate, Simmons University 
I am Kyle T. Ganson, a doctoral candidate at Simmons University School of Social Work. My research focuses on eating disorders, boy's and men's health, mental health care policy and access, and social work education. Along with my doctoral studies, I adjunct teach at Simmons University and the University of New England. I am also a licensed clinical social worker and I have a private practice in Southern Maine.

Kimberly Hogan, Doctoral Student, Arizona State University 
I am Kimberly Hogan, a doctoral student at Arizona State University. My research focuses on domestic sex trafficking and the therapeutic needs for exiting.  I work closely with community groups, including the National Criminal Justice Training Center, AMBER Alert, City of Phoenix Starfish Place, and the Phoenix and Las Vegas Metropolitan VICE Units. My research work spans the prevention, detection, identification, and treatment of minor and adult sex trafficking victims. Along with my doctoral studies and sex trafficking research, I am a faculty associate at Arizona State University and an adjunct instructor at Fordham University in the online MSW program. I am also a therapist at a local behavioral health hospital.

Julia O’Connor, Doctoral Candidate, Rutgers University
I am Julia O’Connor a doctoral candidate and Part Time Lecture at the Rutgers University School of Social Work and a Research Associate at the Center of Violence Against Women and Children. I have many years of experience as a domestic and sexual violence advocate. Additionally, I served in the Peace Corps twice (Uganda 2004-2006; Guyana 2013-2014). I hold a MSW from the University of Maryland, Baltimore School of Social Work and a MPH from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. My research interests include violence against women focused on primary prevention of interpersonal violence.

Kwynn Gonzalez-Pons, Doctoral Student, University of Utah 
I am Kwynn Gonzalez-Pons, a doctoral student in the University of Utah’s College of Social Work. I study the intersections of health, technology, and gender-based violence.  Prior to coming to the University of Utah, I worked on a federally funded project through the Office of Women’s Health collaborating with social service providers, healthcare professionals, and survivors of intimate partner violence to improve IPV screenings in healthcare settings and support survivors accessing health services. I have a Master of Public Health from the University of North Texas Health Science Center

How I Work: Social Work Research Edition

How I Work: Social Work Research Edition is a new series of interviews the SSWR Doctoral Student Task Force will be sharing. This series and the questions have been inspired and adapted from Lifehacker's How I Work series (thank you Lifehacker!). We will be briefly interviewing individuals in the social work research arena about how they go about their work. We hope these interviews will give new insights to social work doctoral students and provide them a window into the lives of professors, researchers, deans, etc. We welcome recommendations of individuals to interview. Head over to the Facebook page to post your recommendations.

James Herbert Williams, PhD., MSW, MPA

James Herbert Williams, PhD., MSW, MPA

James Herbert Williams, PhD., MSW, MPA
By: Kimberly Hogan, MA, MSW, Doctoral Student, Arizona State University School of Social Work

James Herbert Williams is the current Director of the School of Social Work and Arizona Centennial Professor of Social Welfare Services at Arizona State University and the Immediate Past President of SSWR Board of Directors.

James Herbert's research focuses on sustainable development, K-12 academic performance, youth violence, delinquency prevention, adolescent substance use, race and gender differences, and mental health service needs and utilization patterns in urban schools. His funded research has included grants from the National Institutes of Child Health and Human Development; the National Institute of Mental Health; the Danforth Foundation; the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease; and the departments of Justice, Education, and Health and Human Services. James Herbert has also published extensively in the area of delinquency, youth violence, health promotion, disease prevention among African American women and conflict mediation, human security, and sustainable development in Northern Kenya.

Kimberly: What is one word that best describes how you work?

James Herbert: Nonstop! Academia is never easy, but it is enjoyable and satisfying. I love what I do. When you love what you do, it is not work. I know it may sound cliché.  I get to spend your time with bright and energetic people. I get to pursue my intellectual passion. It is easy to work when I am doing something that brings me a great deal of satisfaction. 

Kimberly: What does a typical workday look like for you?

James Herbert: My day is usually filled with various meetings. When I was a faculty member, I focused on scholarship and teaching.  My day starts very early before my colleagues come to the office. I like to utilize this free time to plan my day, and it allows me to focus on my writing. I will take a break when I get home. However, I work on planning the activities that I want to get accomplished the next day.

Kimberly: How do you keep track of what tasks you need to complete?

James Herbert: I have a wonderful support team. I have been in administration since 2000, and I have been able to continue to publish. I am clear about allocating time for my scholarly writing projects separate from my administrative responsibilities.  You cannot be a successful administrator and have a scholarly career if you do not have good people as part of your leadership team.  

Kimberly: How do you recharge or take care of yourself outside of work?

James Herbert: I read, hike, go to movies, theater, and opera. I also take weekend trips to refresh and gain perspective.  Being outside and engaging in different activities is when I have my best thinking. Once a year I take a nice vacation.  My last vacation was to Alaska.  

Kimberly: What advice would you offer to social work doctoral students?

James Herbert: It is an ideal time to acquire knowledge to prepare yourself for a career in the academy.  A critical aspect for advancing our profession is training the next generation of scholars. Knowledge development is essential for our profession to address the pressing social issues.  It is important that schools of social work provide doctoral students with all the necessary resources and support that will allow them to be successful scholars and teachers.  It is also crucial for doctoral students to leverage all opportunities to ensure their success. Then it will be a mutually beneficial experience for the student, faculty, and school.  

Kimberly: What are some projects or publications that you would like people to know about?

Articles to read: 

Hartman C. A., Hageman, T. O., Williams, J. H., & Ascione, F. R. (2018).   Intimate partner violence and animal abuse in an immigrant-rich sample of mother-child dyads recruited from domestic violence programs. Journal of Interpersonal Violence33, 1030-1047. Advance online publication November 25, 2015.

Williams, J. H. (2018). Race and poverty:  Growth areas for the social work research agenda. Social Work Research42, 67-72.

Lein, L., Uehara, E. S., Lightfoot, E., Lawlor, E. F., & Williams, J. H. (2017).  A collaborative framework for envisioning the future of social work research and education. Social Work Research41, 67-71.

Williams, J. H.  (2016). Where’s the evidence: Can we develop stronger research and scientific approaches to understand complex systems and interactions?  Social Work Research40, 131-133.

Kumssa, A., Williams, J. H., Jones, J. F., & Des Marais, E. A.  (2014). Conflict and migration: The case of Somali refugees in Northeastern Kenya. Global Social Welfare:  Research, Policy, and Practice1, 145 – 156.

Williams, J. H.  (2013). Disparities, disproportionalities, differences, and discrepancies.  Social Work Research37, 309-311.

Leveraging Bio-Cultural Mechanisms to Maximize the Impact of Multi-Level Preventable Disease Interventions with Southwest PopulationsU54 2U54MD002316, Community Engagement & Dissemination Core (PI, James Herbert Williams), Funded by National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, Totals Award for CEDC: $594,938.00; 09/01/2017-08/30/2022.

Children exposed to intimate partner violence:  Mental health correlates of concomitant exposure to animal abuse, 5 R01 HD066503; (PI, James Herbert Williams), Funded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development, Total Award: $1,548,493.00; 09/02/10 – 06/30/16.

Books to read:

Bain, K. (2004). What the Best College Teachers Do. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 

Bain, K. (2012). What the Best College Students Do. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 

Bowen, W. G.  (2013). Higher Education in the Digital Age. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 

Tobin, E. M., & Bowen, W. G. (2015). Locus of Authority: The Evolution of Faculty Roles in the Governance of Higher Education. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. 

Tobin, E. M., Kurzweil, M. A. Pichler, S. C., & Bowen, W. G.  (2005). Equity and Excellence in American Higher Education. Charlottesville, VA: University of Virginia Press. 

Thyer, B. (1994).Successful Publishing in Scholarly Journals. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publication. 



How I Work: Social Work Research Edition

How I Work: Social Work Research Edition is a new series of interviews the SSWR Doctoral Student Task Force will be sharing. This series and the questions have been inspired and adapted from Lifehacker's How I Work series (thank you Lifehacker!). We will be briefly interviewing individuals in the social work research arena about how they go about their work. We hope these interviews will give new insights to social work doctoral students and provide them a window into the lives of professors, researchers, deans, etc. We welcome recommendations of individuals to interview. Head over to the Facebook page to post your recommendations.

Dr. Shanna K. Kattari
Jonah DeChants, MSSP, Doctoral Student, University of Denver, Graduate School of Social Work

Dr. Shanna K. Kattari

Dr. Shanna K. Kattari

Shanna K. Kattari, PhD, MEd, CSE, ACS (she|her|hers) is an incoming Assistant Professor of Social Work at the University of Michigan. Her work centers on disability and ableism, and transgender/non-binary (NB) identities and transphobia, using an intersectional lens. Shanna’s dissertation developed/validated the Ableist Microaggression Scale (AMS), and used the AMS-65 to explore the relationships between experiencing ableist microaggressions and the mental health of disabled adults. Recently, Shanna has focused on the health disparities among transgender/NB communities, across physical and behavioral health, as well as working with the community to better understand how the lack of inclusive providers has increased these disparities.

Jonah: One word that best describes how you work? 

Shanna: Connectively

Jonah: What is your background and how you became a social work researcher? 

Shanna: I was a sex educator and sexologist, and kept running into issues in the field and in my community(ies) where we knew things to be true, but there wasn’t peer review research to back up our community knowledge. I chose to go work on my PhD in order to create a bridge between the academy and communities, to do community based research, and to conduct the research that my/our communities needed.

Jonah: What does a typical work day look like for you? 

Shanna: It really depends on the day. If I am teaching, there might be some meeting with students, prepping for class, or grading of assignments. I do a lot of meetings, in person and virtual to connect between myself and my community partners, and with others LGBTQIA+ focused researchers around the country. Many of the virtual meetings I take from my home office, so my feline research assistants can help out as well. I also am a core faculty member at the Center for Sexuality and Health Disparities (aka The Sex Lab), and work to mentor students from the Sex Lab, the School of Social Work and across campus on topics regarding sexuality, gender, disability, and sexuality education.

Jonah: What is your best time-saving short cut in your role as a social work researcher? 

Shanna: I try to keep super organized on what projects I have and where they are in the process (conception, IRB, recruitment, data collection, analysis, and where in the stage of writing I am), so that when I have small free blocks of time, I can figure out what project to work on when I am able.

Jonah: What are your techniques for collaborating with colleagues? 

Shanna: We use a lot of technology to organize how we work together. My primary research team has people from Michigan, Colorado, Indiana, Florida, Pennsylvania, and California. We use tools like Zoom to connect, and use shareable/cooperative spreadsheets tor track who is working on what, and what next steps are. As far as working with community partners, I think ensuring everyone’s needs are on the table (need for community reports, certain types of data, peer review papers, etc.) so that there is transparency for everyone, and we can work cooperatively to plan research that meets everyone’s needs.

Jonah: How do you keep track of what you need to get done? 

Shanna: I have a color coded GoogleDocs spreadsheet so I can keep track of all of my papers and conference abstracts I have submitted. 

Jonah: What is your least favorite work and how do you deal with it? 

Shanna: Revise and resubmits! When I finish and article and edit it, and send it out into the world, it feels almost like I’ve birthed a child. R&Rs, while sometimes they have useful suggestions, often feels like they are asking me to change my child, to alter my vision, or sometimes even change directions or walk back language/implications that are important to/ask for by community. I often feel like responding to R&Rs are like walking a tightrope above shark infested waters.

Jonah: How do you recharge or take care of yourself outside of work? 

Shanna: I spending a lot of time with my cats, reading books. Now that it is summer, I’m also super excited to get into gardening, as we’ve just built some accessible raised beds. Recently, I’ve also gotten into some ballroom dancing when my body is up for it, and that is a great time.

Jonah: Who is a researcher (in social work or another field) who inspires you? Why? 

Shanna: Dr. Alex Wagman at VCU does fantastic work around engaging community and especially young people in her research. Ramona Beltran is one of the most authentic and intentional researchers I have read. Dr. Bernadette Marie Calafell (in Communication Studies) is another incredible researcher who combines a critical social justice lens and engaging analysis of pop culture to connect the two. 

Jonah: What is the best advice you’ve ever received? 

Shanna: To figure out how to balance my background as a community activist with moving towards being an academic advocate. This has helped me to work towards figuring out how to show up in an authentic way in the academy, but still in a way that fits within existing systems while challenging them.

Jonah: What advice would you offer to social work doctoral students? 

Shanna: Connect and collaborate as much as possible. It is easy to get lost in doing things on your own (like your dissertation), or working only on your advisor’s project, but connect with other doc students, post docs, junior faculty, senior faculty, you name it, who have similar interests as you. Work together on conference proposals, white papers, letters to the editors, and research projects. The more connections and interactions you foster at this point, the stronger your network will be as you launch your career. My other advice is to turn every (solid) project you have worked on into a paper. Did you collect data for a qualitative class? Analyze it (maybe after getting IRB approval, depending), and publish it. Did you design a project for another class? If it is feasible, conduct it and then publish on it. Don’t wait until you are working on your dissertation to start doing your own projects and getting your work out there.

Jonah: What are some projects or publications that you would like people to know about? 

Shanna: I am thrilled to be partnering with Transcend the Binary (and several other trans focused researchers in the state) to launch the first ever Michigan Trans Health Survey, collecting data about the health and provider related experiences of transgender and non-binary individuals throughout the state of Michigan. I’ve love for folks to help replicate similar surveys in other states, so that we can get a better snapshot of trans health in different states around the country. I’m also really excited that my Ableist Microaggressions Scale is in press with the Journal of Social Service Research, and am hoping that this will be useful in a variety of ways for other scholars.

How I Work: Social Work Research Edition

How I Work: Social Work Research Edition is a new series of interviews the SSWR Doctoral Student Task Force will be sharing. This series and the questions have been inspired and adapted from Lifehacker's How I Work series (thank you Lifehacker!). We will be briefly interviewing individuals in the social work research arena about how they go about their work. We hope these interviews will give new insights to social work doctoral students and provide them a window into the lives of professors, researchers, deans, etc. We welcome recommendations of individuals to interview. Head over to the Facebook page to post your recommendations.

Dr. Judy L. Postmus
By: Julia O'Connor, MSW, MPH, Doctoral Student, Rutgers University School of Social Work

Dr. Judy L. Postmus

Dr. Judy L. Postmus

Dr. Judy L. Postmus is a Professor and Associate Dean of Faculty Development and Strategic Initiatives at the School of Social Work, Rutgers University.  She is also the founder and former director of the Center on Violence Against Women & Children (VAWC). Her research is on physical, sexual, and economic victimization experiences of women with her most recent attention given to developing a Violence Against Women Research Consortium, funded by the National Institute of Justice (2016-MU-CX-K011). She has given many local, national, and international presentations on the impact of policies and interventions for survivors of violence.  Her work is strongly influenced from her 20 years as a practitioner and administrator.

Julia: What is your background and how did you become a social work researcher?

Judy: My undergraduate degree is in nutrition. Prior to that, I was a double biology and chemistry major. I was going to do pre-med and go into medicine but, I decided not to. I started working with at-risk children and their families in Miami which is a predominantly low-income and African American community. I decided perhaps, I should have an MSW to know what I was doing and got my MSW from Barry University School of Social Work. That’s how I started my social work career. I worked in an agency for homeless and run away youth. I did direct services for three months and was handed a grant that was funded and was told “Start a new program! Hire everybody to get it going.” I worked my way up from social worker to associate director of the agency. Then, I left that agency and became the director of a domestic abuse shelter in Florida and then got into social work academia. So, between my MSW and going into the PhD program, that was eight years and probability six years pre-MSW that I was working.

Julia: What is your best time-saving short cut in your role as a social work researcher?

Judy: Figure out a system that works in term of keeping track of all manuscripts because you’ll be working on a number of articles at one time. And they will all be at different phases from “I have an idea” to “I have an outline” to “I have a draft done” to “I have a finished product” to “it is being sent for review” to “a revise and resubmit”. At any one time, you could easily have 10-12 articles in the air. Some of them you are working on by yourself and some, as a team. So figuring out a system of keeping track of when things are due and how you are making progress and putting yourself on a system of deadlines. I started out using a Word table and would map out the weeks. I now use Wunderlist as a way to map out what I have to do by when. Academia is not “I’m going to work on one article until it is done and then work on another.” You are making your own deadlines and it easy to just put something aside until the break. Then the first break comes and you realize that things don’t get done. And then you set them aside again. No, you have to keep plugging away. It’s like being a social worker. If a client has a problem, you break it apart into manageable tasks. It’s the same thing with articles, always be working on them, or you will get to the end of the semester and will have not done any writing.

Julia: What are your techniques for collaborating with colleagues?

Judy: There are the joys and sorrows of collaborating with colleagues on writing. The joy is, for me, I don’t want to let my colleagues down. It helps with getting the work done. Versus, if I’m doing a solo piece, that always goes to the back burner. And having differing perspectives and bouncing ideas off each other about what works and what doesn’t work. Also, you instantly have someone else reading your work. Those are they joys of working together. And the sorrows are that not everyone participates fully and not everyone meets deadlines. Sometimes they fall off the grid. How do you keep them motivated? What do you do if they don’t meet deadlines? Someone might be sitting on a manuscript for months. How do I play the bad guy? Part of the challenge is to figure out who are really good collaborators? And once you find them, hang on to them because you know they will get things done quickly. The other thing to managing collaborations is that, if it cannot be done via email, hold phone calls. Say “come to the meeting and update us as to where you are.

Part of how you find collaborators is to see who is hungry. Who wants publications? People who are tenure track are often interested in getting publications. Whoever is the lead author has to take ownership of making it happen. Also, setting standards on what to include and how to write. Sometime people will review their coauthor and say “You could say this differently” or “I’m not sure what you mean here” or “What about if you do this another way?” In my head, I’m thinking “you are a coauthor, fix it! Don’t just say it like you are grading a paper. You are working with me.” I think setting ground rules for expectations on what do when you get a draft and when it gets ripped up by reviewers is helpful.

Julia: What is the best advice you’ve ever received related to doing research?

Judy: My mentors helped me see that you always, always, always start with the research question or the specific aim or the hypothesis. What is it that you’re trying to study? And then understand that for every problem or issue that you are looking at, those questions can be asked differently. There isn’t just one way to do research. I do not have to go in and do regression. Methods depend on the research questions. Those questions drive the methods. And those methods drive the analysis. I don’t think, “I’m going to do it this way. I’m going to do it qualitatively”. No, no, you start with what you want to know and ask a lot of different questions. That was instilled in me. There are so many different ways to study the topic or issue. There is not one right way.

Julia: What advice would you offer to social work doctoral students in general?

Judy: A good dissertation is a done dissertation! Also, answer three questions regarding your dissertation: 1) “Am I passionate about the subject matter?” Because you are going to be in it for a long time. Not just doing the dissertation, not just afterward when you’re writing publications off of the data, but also, it is the foundation for your academic life. So, be passionate about the subject matter. Don’t just do something because you’ll get it done. 2) “Can you get articles out of it?” At least two or three.  Meaning that you are doing something to make a contribution to the field. And 3) “Is it feasible? Can you get it done in a timely fashion?” The last one I think really trips up doctoral students because they have grandiose ideas of what they can do, not realizing that the dissertation, and any research project, is the stepping stone to the next research project. You do not have to do it all at one time. I’ve been guilty of that when I first started out. I wanted to ask everything. I’ve learned since then! I know I don’t need to do that. It’s important to be clear and focused on: “Can I get this done? Do I have the funds to get this done? Is the timeline feasible? Is it going to drive me crazy in the end?” 

Also, don’t be afraid to ask for money. I’ve met lots of academics who have never written a grant proposal. And in my head, I’m like “How are you doing research?” Finally, find some really good collaborators in your field. Whether you are doing research together or writing together, it makes a huge difference. And a lot of time you’ll end up in school where you are the only one in your area and it becomes very lonely. If you’re alone at a school, do interdisciplinary work with someone else doing a different type of project or connect with others who are doing similar work at other universities. 

Julia: What are some projects or publications that you would like people to know about? What’s exciting to you right now.

Judy: I think some of the excitement right now is not to do with peer-reviewed publications but, with converting our knowledge of peer-reviewed publications and research projects into interesting and digestible information for the general public, policy makers, non-profits, and the government sector. Really pushing the boundaries of taking an article and turning it into an infographic. Can you submit a report to the state on a research project and have the executive summary be all infographics? I think really paying attention to how people digest information is super important because the public are not reading our articles. Some of this is figuring out how can you do this work without compromising writing. Thinking about not only what will the dissemination look like but, how can you actually do it? I would say get a student intern or talk to the school of communication and they might provide interns and work with them to create a template. This will also get you in the position of learning how to supervise, delegate and manage. Also, this will prepare you for when you get grant funding and are managing projects and people.

Doctoral Student Spotlight

Technology’s Role in Sexual Violence, According to Service Providers

Kwynn Gonzalez-Pons

Kwynn Gonzalez-Pons

Student Researcher: Kwynn Gonzalez-Pons, University of Utah

About the Researcher: Kwynn has a Master of Public Health (MPH) and is currently pursuing a PhD in Social Work. She is interested in the intersections of technology, health, and gender-based violence. 

Study Description: (IRB approved) Conducting individual interviews (phone/video conferencing device or in-person) with service providers working with survivors of sexual violence. Providers can be anyone that’s ever worked with SV survivors including counselors, healthcare professionals, law enforcement, etc.  

Methodological Approach: Qualitative: Individual interviews (in-person or via video-conferencing tool)

Preliminary Findings: Technology’s role varies, with positive impacts on sexual violence (increased awareness, potentially increased prosecutions if assaults are electronically documented, may be able to reach survivors who cannot access traditional care settings); negative impacts mentioned include society’s minimization of online sexual violence; the potential for the trauma to be relived if evidence is online.

Implications: Raise awareness among service professionals about how technology-facilitated violence may affect their clients seeking care; illuminate the various roles of technology in sexual violence, positive and negative. 

Challenges Encountered: Recruitment.

Next Steps: Continue recruitment and conducting interviews.

To participate in this study, please email Kwynn at

Doctoral Student Spotlight

The SSWR Doctoral Student Task Force is creating a new series! We will begin to highlight the creative and meaningful research of doctoral students and candidates. This is the first in the series.

Facilitators and Barriers to Using Participatory Action Research Among Early Career Social Work Scholars

Catherine Kramer

Catherine Kramer

Student Researchers: Darren Cosgrove, LMSW, PhD Candidate and Catherine Kramer, LMSW, MPA, PhD Student at the School of Social Welfare, University at Albany – SUNY

About the Researchers: We are committed to youth-centered research and use of participatory action research (PAR) methods.

Darren Cosgrove

Darren Cosgrove

Darren: My work utilizes arts-based participatory action research to explore the lived experiences of non-binary and gender queer young adults. Using photovoice and reflective discussion, we are examining social expectations regarding gender as well as the ways in which non-binary identities are supported and stigmatized.

Catherine: I focus on young people who experience disadvantage and marginalization due to economic poverty, social isolation, and social exclusion. My research takes me across multiple settings – educational, juvenile justice and child welfare – in pursuit of organizational designs and practices that ensure healthy development and opportunity for young people. 

Study Description: PAR and Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) offer opportunities for social work scholars to conduct research that addresses complex social issues. However, these methodologies often require researchers to navigate unique challenges and tensions, especially for scholars working within institutional settings that privilege traditional forms of research. Our study identifies the facilitators and barriers encountered by early career social work scholars.

Inspiration for the Study: As practicing social workers, we recognize the alignment between social work values – service, self-determination, social justice and others – and the philosophy underpinning PAR and CBPR, which emphasizes shared learning and knowledge generation and prioritizes social action and change. PAR and CBPR also link practice and research in ways congruent with social work. The continued underrepresentation of these methodologies in social work literature got us curious about the reasons why. 

Methodological Approach: This is a phenomenological study that involves collecting data through in-depth interviews with social work doctoral students and pre-tenure faculty. Additionally, we conducted a workshop at the International Congress of Qualitative Inquiry that served as a site for data-collection. We have plans to conduct a second data-collection workshop this fall. 

Next Steps: We are working toward completing data collection and beginning the data analysis process. Our hope is to present and publish our findings on the facilitators and barriers to using PAR methods among social work scholars, and on our data collection approach, specifically the interactive activities used during our workshops. Additionally, we are also exploring the possibility of an autoethnographic piece on our own experiences with PAR.  

Anticipated Implications: Our goal is to support conversations among social work scholars who are participatory action researchers, those who are interested in these methodologies, as well as the broader social work research community, about how to expand opportunities to build knowledge and promote social change. We anticipate that our research can serve as a tool for identifying new pathways for the pursuit of PAR in social work.

Advice for Other PhD Students Conducting Research: Our advice to doctoral students engaging in qualitative research – be adaptive! Our first data collecting workshop went differently than we hoped, but also delivered exactly what we needed because we kept focused on what was important and we relaxed into the evolving nature of qualitative work. 

How I Work: Social Work Research Edition

How I Work: Social Work Research Edition is a new series of interviews the SSWR Doctoral Student Task Force will be sharing. This series and the questions have been inspired and adapted from Lifehacker's How I Work series (thank you Lifehacker!). We will be briefly interviewing individuals in the social work research arena about how they go about their work. We hope these interviews will give new insights to social work doctoral students and provide them a window into the lives of professors, researchers, deans, etc. We welcome recommendations of individuals to interview. Head over to the Facebook page to post your recommendations.

Steven Schinke, Ph.D., MSW
By: Sara Terrana, MA, MSW, Doctoral Candidate at UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs, Department of Social Welfare

Dr. Steven Schinke

Dr. Steven Schinke

Professor Schinke is the D'Elbert and Selma Keenan Professor of Social Work at Columbia School of Social Work (CSSW) and he is the Senior Director of CSSW's Online Campus. Professor Schinke works in the field of health behavior among adolescents, particularly youths from disadvantaged backgrounds. Specifically, he analyzes risk factors associated with various adverse health behaviors and develops and tests prevention programs to reduce those risk factors and promote healthier lives. I got to know Professor Schinke through teaching in the online program at CSSW. I wanted to interview him as he is a wealth of knowledge!

Sara: One word that best describes how you work?

Dr. Schinke: Management.This is what I do to set priorities, complete my ‘to do' list and work with colleagues and members of my group. 

Sara: What is your background and how you became a social work researcher? 

Dr. Schinke: For my 2nd year MSW field placement at UW-Madison, I had the privilege of working with Sheldon Rose who was finishing a book on group work with children. I did some fact- and reference-checking for the book and greatly enjoyed the experience. When thinking of post-grad plans, doctoral studies seemed logical. 



Sara: What does a typical work day look like for you? 

Dr. Schinke: I start with my priority item, which might be a manuscript, grant application, class preparation, or a report. Long ago, I learned to prioritize high-yield tasks, even if, or perhaps especially, if they are difficult or challenging. When I need a break, I'll answer emails, return calls, and do lower priority items, returning as quickly as I can to the higher priority item. All of this is interspersed with things I can't control like meetings, conference calls, and video conferences. 

Sara: What is your best time-saving shortcut in your role as a social work researcher? 

Dr. Schinke: When I was just starting out in Seattle, I had the good fortune to take a time management seminar. The instructor fanned out different denominations of paper money as if they were playing cards: $1, $5, $10, $20, $50, $100. He approached an attendee in the front row and asked the person to select his preferred bill. Of course, the guy pulls out the $100 bill. So, the instructor moves along the row, repeats the exercise, and everybody picked the $100 bill. Then the instructor told us to imagine sitting at our desks. In front of us, we have a high-yield strategic plan that is due in 3 months, a performance appraisal due in a month, a marketing progress report due in 2 weeks, and little slips of paper that say "Call your dentist.", "Schedule the car for a checkup.", and "Make an appointment with the vet for Rusty's annual exam." The instructor then asked various attendees which item they would choose to handle first. When people said that they would call the dentist and handle the other items on the slips of paper, the instructor asked them to give the dollar-denominated value of completing those tasks. Quickly, we recognized that whereas the small items were worth perhaps $1 to $20, the big items (strategic plan, etc.) were worth $50 to $100. Worse yet, once we take care of the $1, $5, and $10 items, we may be tired and ready for lunch. The $50 and $100 are still sitting there, untouched. That time-management seminar was the best early career investment I could have made. Give priority to high-yield activities.

Sara: Like our dissertations.

Dr. Schinke: Exactly. 

Sara: What are your techniques for collaborating with colleagues? 

Dr. Schinke: Being open to new ideas and maintaining my curiosity. The best projects I've ever done came from other people. Curiosity is a precious gift. If you don't have it, nurture it. If you are naturally curious, sustain that gift and never lose it. 

Sara: How do you keep track of what you need to get done?

Dr. Schinke: I just have a yellow pad with my ‘To Do' list. 

Sara: How do you recharge or take care of yourself outside of work?

Dr. Schinke: More than any other activity, I enjoy spending time with my wife, Mary. Everything we do together is an adventure, regardless of how routine or mundane. Every day I also take a 5-mile walk, often with Mary, and always with my Bichon Frise, Charlotte. 

Sara: Who is a researcher (in social work or another field) who inspires you? Why?

Dr. Schinke: Nabila El-Bassel. Nabila does it all. She writes beautiful grant applications and brilliant papers with cutting-edge data that appear in the best journals. Nabila travels extensively to manage her global portfolio of studies. She collaborates with top investigators in the fields of medicine, public health, and other disciplines. She sits on national advisory panels at NIH and other bodies. Nabila is a dedicated mentor, a wonderful colleague, a gifted teacher, and an effective and respected administrator. Clearly, Nabila received excellent mentoring from Rob Schilling when he was on our faculty and was first Nabila's doctoral advisor and later her research partner. 

Sara: What is the best advice you've ever received? 

Dr. Schinke: Ask yourself: "Is this the best use of my time right now?" 

Sara: What advice would you offer to social work doctoral students?

Dr. Schinke: Manage your time. That's your most precious resource. If you spend it in on the highest-yield activity, you will be richly rewarded. Find a mentor or mentors who you trust and who want you to succeed. I had a fantastic mentor in Jim Whittaker when I was in Seattle. Jim is largely responsible for all successes I enjoyed in my entry years. Develop a focused research program on a topic that has funding potential. Don't follow your dream if it is unprofitable. Be curious and available for new opportunities. Return calls from headhunters. Interview even when you aren't looking for a job. You never know. 

Sara: As you're talking I am thinking about managing my own time as I struggle a lot with teaching and responding to student emails and inquiries and not prioritizing that over my dissertation and research. A lot of times I feel I get this instant gratification from the students. 

Dr. Schinke: Students are always a priority. They are paying you to teach them. When people pay me, they have my full attention. You also must prioritize your research and writing. And you have or will have committee, curricular, and administrative duties. The sad reality is that you will put in a lot of hours to handle everything. A few years ago, I read a piece in the Harvard Business Review entitled: "No, You Can't Have it All." I recall a quote in the article that someone's mother told him that went something like this: "You can have everything you want in life; just not all at once." 

Sara: What are some projects or publications that you would like people to know about?  

Dr. Schinke: I am working with Traci Schwinn who is involved with developing substance abuse prevention programs for LGBTQ youth. These kids are at extremely high risk for substance use. Many have not come out to anyone, including themselves. So as a coping mechanism, they are self-medicating. Traci did a superb pilot study that is published in the Journal of Adolescent Health. She now has an R01 under review at NIDA for a 5-year RCT to definitively test her intervention program. Traci's work is an excellent model for RCTs, for prevention research, and for theory-driven, empirically based investigations. I am extremely proud to be a minor participant in this work. 

Link to paper

Sara: Well thank you, Professor Schinke, for taking time out of your day to speak with me, and a big thank you on behalf of the SSWR Doctoral Student Task Force.

How I Work: Social Work Research Edition

How I Work: Social Work Research Edition is a new series of interviews the SSWR Doctoral Student Task Force will be sharing. This series and the questions have been inspired and adapted from Lifehacker's How I Work series (thank you Lifehacker!). We will be briefly interviewing individuals in the social work research arena about how they go about their work. We hope these interviews will give new insights to social work doctoral students and provide them a window into the lives of professors, researchers, deans, etc. We welcome recommendations of individuals to interview. Head over to the Facebook page to post your recommendations.

Dr. Rita Seabrook

Dr. Rita Seabrook

Rita Seabrook, PhD
By Julia O'Connor, MSW, MPH, Doctoral Candidate at Rutgers University School of Social Work

Rita Seabrook is a postdoctoral associate at the Center on Violence Against Women and Children in the Rutgers University School of Social Work. She completed her PhD in Psychology and Women's Studies at the University of Michigan in 2017. Her research interests include masculinity, all-male organizations such as fraternities, and sexual violence.

Julia: What is your background and how did you become a social work researcher?

Rita: My background is in psychology and statistics, that’s what I majored in during college. I knew I liked research because my undergrad advisor did research on gender, anxiety, and sexual violence. I was really interested in it. So I did an honors project in college and then asked my advisor ‘what should I do next’. And they were like ‘get a PhD!’ But I wanted to get a couple years of research experience. I worked at Mass General Hospital in a clinical setting and I realized it was not the type of work I wanted to spend my life doing. So, then I did my PhD in psychology and women’s studies. It’s a joint PhD program. It’s one of only two programs in the country that are actually a joint. A lot of places have certificates. But this is a degree is in psychology and women’ studies.

Julia: Who is a researcher (in social work or another field) who inspires you?

Rita: One of my undergrad professors, Sarah Murnen, was the person who got me interested in my topic. I study masculinity and sexual violence and specifically masculinity in all-male setting like fraternities. And it was her class that exposed me to the idea of toxic masculinity. She is the reason that I went to grad school pretty much. She is also a very prolific researcher. She is an awesome teacher and a good mentor. She gave me a couple opportunities to do publications with her which was great because I was able to be an author even though I had never done that before. That took a lot of mentorship on her part. But also she is inspiring as a researcher. She told me once that she is not a perfectionist. She writes, gets it on paper and will fix it later. And I try to think of that because especially in academia where you have to be so motivated and nothing is really ever perfect, it is easy to just think “what is the point of starting? It will never be exactly right” or “a reviewer will hate it”. She seems to take a day and produces a paper and yes, it has flaws but it is easier to fix it once you start. I’m not always good at doing that but it is good advice. 

Julia: What is your best time-saving short cut in your role as a social work researcher?

Rita: I have three. So one is, and I’m really bad at doing this, but one semester when I was teaching and trying to do my prospectus [dissertation proposal] at the same time, I blocked my schedule so that two hours once a week was time to grade and I had to finish it in two hours. That worked really well. Otherwise you could spend forever [grading]. And then I did the same thing for writing. Tuesday morning I write. I have to write and that is the only thing I do. I did that for a whole semester and it was the best thing to preserve time. Otherwise, stuff leaks into other aspects. The second one is, whenever you are doing any kind of analysis-I only do quantitative, but I think this applies to qualitative too-is to document very clearly what you are doing and why. Because you will forget and then you will come to it in a month and ask ‘why did I do that?’ The third one, is for literature reviews. My advisor taught me this, I have an excel sheet with a column for author, year, sample, type of study (e.g., experimental), independent variable, dependent variable and finding. If I’m doing a paper, every article that I come across that I think is going to be relevant, I put into that table. You really only have to read the abstract, the methods, and a little bit of the results to fill that out. And if it is a paper that is particularly relevant, you can go back and read the entire thing. When I am writing, I can have that table up next to my Word document as I write. I can know exactly what points to make and who cite right away. It is so much easier.

Julia: What is your least favorite work and how do you deal with it?

Rita: Writing. I don’t like to write but if I can start, if I can just get myself to start, then it always goes fine. But starting it truly the hardest part. I know I’m not going to write for the whole day and I know I am most productive in the morning. So I write from 9 to whenever I eat lunch and then I can spend the rest of the data analyzing data which it what I love to do.  So that a reward for doing the thing I dislike. 

Julia: How do you recharge or take care of yourself outside of work?

Rita: I like to run and actually that is helpful because I am usually training for some kind of race. But I’m not a fast runner so I’m training for some kind of distance goal. And that is so helpful because I can go to work and accomplish zero tasks related to research and I can at least be like ‘well, I ran six miles so I got that’. So that is my number one thing. Also snuggling with dog is really helpful. And my cats are fine too.

Julia: What is the best advice you’ve ever received from another researcher or someone in the field?

Rita: One of them is, ‘the best dissertation is a done dissertation’. And also ‘your dissertation should not be the best thing you ever write’ because, that means you’ve peaked and the rest of your career is downhill. So don’t expect it to be this amazing masterpiece necessarily. That is great advice.

Julia: What are your techniques for collaborating with colleagues?

Rita: Number one, some people you just cannot work with. Sometimes your styles just do not mesh and knowing that is good. You can absolutely love your colleague and love their company but not like working with them. I think there is nothing wrong with that. And being honest about that is really smart. But, for the ones you do like working with, use each other’s strengths. So for example, I love to analyze data and some people do not. So why not give me that task [analyzing data]? And someone who loves to write can do the writing part. I think that is smart. Also, I’m a little bit of control freak so some of the papers that I collaborate on might feel messy because I’m not in control. But they [the papers] have always come together in a nice way. So just being about to sit with the fact that I am not in control of them and it is not going to destroy you. Also, I get sometimes intimated by academic celebrities but in the grand scheme of things, they are not actually celebrities so it is oaky to talk to them.  

Julia: What advice would you offer to social work doctoral students or doctoral students in general?

Rita: Well, something I wish I had thought about when I started my program, was what I wanted to get out of it and also what I wanted to do afterward. So for example, at least where I was, you are expected to go into an academic career, that is what you are being trained for and that is what your advisor has done. Of course, that is what they know how to train you in. But, if I had realized sooner that [academia] might not be what I wanted, I could have taken courses at the university that would have better prepared me for research jobs at a think tank or other things. It’s not too early to think about alternatives and also what do you want to learn versus what you can just squeak by on. So for example, I do not care that much about theory so, I didn’t invest a lot of time in my theory class but I wish I had taken that extra time and invested it in a survey development class. It [the doctoral program] is a professional development opportunity so you don’t want to let that go to waste. 

Julia: Anything else you want to tell me or other doctoral students who might be interested in what you have to say?

Rita: I think, if you can you should do many informational interviews. Which if you haven’t heard of those before, there are very common; it is just where you interview someone and ask them about their job. They are pretty informal. I’m not kidding, I have probably done thirty at this point. People are always happy to talk about themselves. It is a great way to figure out if you actually want this career, how to market yourself towards that career, and things you haven’t thought about. It is the best. It is usually 30 minutes and is so easy. I dislike networking so, that is the only thing kind of network thing I’ll do.    

How I Work: Social Work Research Edition

How I Work: Social Work Research Edition is a new series of interviews the SSWR Doctoral Student Task Force will be sharing. This series and the questions have been inspired and adapted from Lifehacker's How I Work series (thank you Lifehacker!). We will be briefly interviewing individuals in the social work research arena about how they go about their work. We hope these interviews will give new insights to social work doctoral students and provide them a window into the lives of professors, researchers, deans, etc. We welcome recommendations of individuals to interview. Head over to the Facebook page to post your recommendations.

Dr. Heather Howard

Dr. Heather Howard

Heather Howard, PhD, MSW, LICSW
By: Kyle T. Ganson, LCSW, LICSW, Doctoral Student at Simmons College School of Social Work

Dr. Howard’s expertise and research focuses on gender-specific and trauma-informed care for women that reduces stigma and encourages health empowerment. Heather has been awarded several external foundation grants for clinical research involving women’s health issues and her publications emphasize the importance of shared decision-making for perinatal women who are opioid dependent. In addition, Heather was assistant professor at Wheelock College for the past five years. She taught advanced clinical practice with children and families, participatory action research, and substance use disorder prevention and treatment in healthcare systems. Also she was the coordinator of the Integrated Healthcare certificate. Heather has over 23 years of clinical experience in social work in healthcare. Her clinical expertise is the treatment of grief and loss, trauma, and prevention and treatment of substance use disorders at a Brown University-based hospital. Her peer-reviewed publications include areas of medicine, social work, and education, focusing primarily on health disparities and public health responses to maternal substance use. At Florida Atlantic University, Dr. Howard is currently an Assistant Professor at the Phyllis & Harvey Sandler School of Social Work.  

Academic Role & Institution: Assistant Professor, Florida Atlantic University, Phyllis & Harvey Sandler School of Social Work
Area(s) of Research Interest: Maternal substance use and opioid relapse and overdose prevention

Kyle: What is your background and how you became a social work researcher?

Dr. Howard: I was a social worker in health care for 23 years at Brown University affiliated hospitals. The need for more social workers to participate in research involving the social determinants of health propelled me to return to school after 15 years of practice. The opportunity to influence social work practice, healthcare, and drug policies through social work research is a major motivating factor for me. 

Kyle: What are your techniques for collaborating with colleagues?

Dr. Howard: I thrive on collaboration. The best outcomes are always achieved through authentic collaboration. Every person, including our research participants, has an area of expertise to contribute to the research project. Currently I am a principal investigator for a primary prevention intervention for pregnant and parenting women with opioid use disorders. Our research team consists of an Associate Professor in Criminal Justice, a professor in College of Business, Health Administration, and a biostatistician in the College of Medicine. Our community partners are the Palm Beach State Attorney’s Office, Palm Beach Health Care District, Southeast Behavioral Health, Department of Substance Use, and Mental Health, and several treatment facilities. Working with such a diverse team requires clear communication and respect for one another’s differences. 

Kyle: How do you recharge or take care of yourself outside of work?

Dr. Howard: One area I continue to research is the impact of systemic oppressive work environments and occupational burnout. We know that first responders and health care professionals have high occupational burnout. Often times systemic changes in work environments require extensive training and cultural shifts. However individual change does not. Hence I make it a priority to protect my physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual health. Running, positivity, growth, and faith. 

Kyle: Who is a researcher (in social work or another field) who inspires you? Why?

Dr. Howard: This is easy for me. I have been so blessed to have researchers inspire me throughout my education. During my undergraduate studies I was a research assistant for Dr. Gilda Morelli at Boston College in the School of Education. She was a developmental psychologist and also in expert in cultural psychology. I worked with her on a study exploring teacher responsiveness to preschoolers based on gender. During my graduate studies it was Dr. Karen Kayser and we worked on a study exploring marital dissatisfaction with couples that have experienced chronic illnesses. Finally Dr. Peter Maramaldi inspired me to persevere and pursue rigor and excellence in behavioral research and encouraged me to pursue interprofessional research. Without the support and authenticity of these 3 individuals I would not be a researcher today.

Kyle: What advice would you offer to social work doctoral students?

Dr. Howard: I make it a priority to not “give advice”. I have always preferred in my former clients and current students to have them discover the answers they are searching for by themselves. However I would say maintain a sense of humor through the process and do not be afraid of laughing at yourself too. 

“A keen sense of humor helps us to overlook the unbecoming, understand the unconventional, tolerate the unpleasant, overcome the unexpected, and outlast the unbearable.” – Billy Graham

Kyle: What are some projects or publications that you would like people to know about?

Dr. Howard: I am currently in the data collection phase of a study with the Suffolk House of Corrections evaluating a mutual aid support group for parents and following both fathers and mothers post-incarceration regarding their involvement with their children, recidivism, and communication with other caregivers involved with their children. Importantly, the preliminary data is suggesting the importance of treating opioid use disorder during incarceration to prevent accidental opioid overdoses. 

Kyle: Thanks Dr. Howard for participating in our How I Work series!

How I Work: Social Work Research Edition

How I Work: Social Work Research Edition is a new series of interviews the SSWR Doctoral Student Task Force will be sharing. This series and the questions have been inspired and adapted from Lifehacker's How I Work series (thank you Lifehacker!). We will be briefly interviewing individuals in the social work research arena about how they go about their work. We hope these interviews will give new insights to social work doctoral students and provide them a window into the lives of professors, researchers, deans, etc. We welcome recommendations of individuals to interview. Head over to the Facebook page to post your recommendations.

Dr. Darrell Wheeler

Dr. Darrell Wheeler

Dean Darrell P. Wheeler, PhD, MSW, MPH
By: Catherine Kramer, LMSW, MPA at the University at Albany, SUNY

Dr. Darrell Wheeler is Dean of the School of Social Welfare and Vice Provost for Public Engagement at the University at Albany, SUNY. He is an active scholar with interests in health equity and specifically, the identification and exploration of individual and communal resiliency in HIV prevention and intervention among African American and Black gay, bisexual and transgender communities. He also is active in the professional community and is the former President of the Board of Directors of the National Association of Social Workers.

I asked Dean Wheeler to participate in the series because of his commitment to community engaged research, and the diverse set of experiences he has as a social work scholar and practitioner.

Catherine: What is your background and how did you become a social work researcher?

Dean Wheeler: Good question. My background is in community engaged outreach. I've worked at almost every level of social work practice imaginable, from mental health, hospital, community-based settings, to macro-policy settings.

Becoming a researcher was actually not my intent. I had no interest in doing research other than research relevant to providing content for practice. I became a researcher because circumstances in the early 1980s led me to have an interest in HIV education and prevention. Being involved at the really, early, early years of the epidemic kind of opened doors and pathways to being able to focus my study materials on that.

I went to medical school before I went to social work school, and then I have a public health degree. So, blending my passions for the biological as well as the behavioral sciences, again, gave me a platform and a venue to do some of the work that I do now.

Catherine: Can you say more about your experience with medical school?

Dean Wheeler: I was in a medical degree program for a year and really it was not a good fit for me. Back in the 1980s, the pathway to medicine was overly specialized. Today there's much more emphasis on general practice and the whole person. Back then it was really about disease specific and scientific medicine that was, in my estimation, de-contextualized from the whole person.

Probably if I were there today I would have had a different outcome. After a year of medical school, I joined the Air Force. After the military, that's when I ended up in social work school.

Catherine: What brought you to social work?

Dean Wheeler: In the military I was assigned to social work units. I was working in the mental health clinics. I was working in a mental health hospital. I ended up doing family and child advocacy work on the Air Force base and all the people around me were social workers.

I had done some of this work even before going to medical school as a community psychiatric outreach worker, it was kind of a natural fit.

When I was finishing my first year of the MSW program, I passed a bulletin board and saw one of those pull off cards that said, "Do you want a PhD in Social Work?" and on a whim I filled out the application and ended up in a PhD program.

I fought the inclination to become a researcher right up until the very, very ... I mean, when I say very end, I was working on my dissertation and thought I had a job lined up with the Federal government, which fell through and that's how I ended up in the academy.

Catherine: How do you reflect on that journey now and where you have ended up in your career?

Dean Wheeler: Elements of it I would recreate and do all over again because I think every step of the way, that took me further away from research, gave me a better understanding of the practice of social work, as opposed to the conduct of research on social work.

If you've followed my career, I've been the president of NASW. I've had a very fortunate career in funded research. I've had a very strong career in engaged scholarship. All of those things, I think, helped me to be a better social work researcher, as opposed to a researcher who studies social work.

Catherine: Who is a researcher who inspires you?

Dean Wheeler: All of my MSW and doctoral faculty inspired me to dig deep. People like Charlotte Dunmore, Eva Stewart, Dorothy Pearson, Barbara Shore, Martha Baum, Bogart Leashore, David Epperson and Roy Lubove. My doctoral training, inspired, challenged, or frustrated me to want to dig deep for questions that relate to practice.

Some of my contemporary colleagues, like Karina Walters in Washington, she really inspires me because of her work with indigenous communities. Her connectedness to her communities of origin are very inspiring to me, how she blends the work that she does.

Catherine: What is one word you would use to describe how you work?

Dean Wheeler: Integratively. I try to balance because I have multiple spheres of work. Administration, teaching, community engagement, pure research, work on manuscripts and publications.  It all has to integrate.

For me, I must be inspired by what I'm doing. I'm not the kind of researcher who finds great joy in sitting in a room with a computer and a bunch of numbers or data. There has to be critical questions, and those questions need to be connected to what the implications are for social work practice and outcomes of that practice for individuals and communities. How does practice inform this?

Integrating and finding ways to make sure that my research informs the way that I make administrative decisions, and conversely, what I understand of the context of the academy or the context of the world around us. How does that shape the questions, that then, I'm trying to explore within the data? How do I use the networks of individuals around me to facilitate the process of, at this point in my career, generating the next tier or cadre of investigators who are really going to produce a change?

What frustrates me the most about research is when research simply ends in the self-fulfilling and self-sanctifying statement that more research needs to be done. Again, drawing on my background in health and my limited time in medical school, if I were to say to a patient, who came in because they were facing stage four cancer, "Interesting, we need to research this cancer more." You need to do something about the cancer.

Action needs to be taken to ameliorate the situation in which the person finds him or herself and very often it's not about studying how the person accommodates or responds to the situation, but it's about being willing to risk taking on the challenges that have produced the situation.

Being of a particular age that I am, having watched live on TV, the deaths of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King. Living through all of that, watching the water hoses turned on young black and brown faces. It's kind of like, if that had been left to researchers, they would have been studying how and why people kept going out to march as opposed to being on the forefront of the marching. Those kinds of images really affect how I think about research in an applied field like social work.

Catherine: What are your techniques for collaborating with colleagues?

Dean Wheeler: I find the most effective technique is listening. Being a really good listener affords me the opportunity to ask critical questions, to integrate it into my own learning, not to formulate a priori, what I believe the solution should be, not to shut out things that make me uncomfortable in terms of challenging my views on certain things, but that listening, it's absolutely essential.

The second is being able to integrate that listening into thoughtful responses that are direct without being disembodied or unconnected to the possibility that what comes out of your mouth may not be well received by other audiences, but it needs to be said.

The third is being willing to take a risk. Being the lightening rod or the point of negative attention. This goes for business models that would highly suggest that anyone who is not willing to accept failure, is not destined for success. You have to be willing to take a risk. You have to be willing to fail. You have to be willing to be shown wrong.

You have to be willing to listen and to develop the capacity and skill and you have to be able to turn that listening into some kind of meaningful action.

Catherine: Listening to the techniques you just described, I’m wondering to what extent you think your training and work as a social worker influences how you approach your position now, and your work now.

Dean Wheeler: It's been indispensable and because I had pre-masters social work experience and post-masters experience, and I have tried to stay connected throughout, it's an evolution. Again, my mentors, mostly women, were instrumental in my doctoral training, had all worked in settlement houses and they talked firsthand about some of those experiences. That had a profound effect on me being a good social work researcher as I keep saying, different than being a researcher who studies social work.

I can usually tell a researcher who does not have the experience. In fact, maybe you and your colleagues will get a chuckle out of this. As a reviewer of dissertations, I had a notorious record. They knew when they got to their dissertation defense, he is going to ask you what relevance and meaning does your research have for social work, otherwise you should be getting your degree in some other field. And you better have a good answer.

Catherine: What advice do you offer social work doctoral students?

Dean Wheeler: Find those things that you are truly passionate about. I would hope that in an applied profession, people would find something about the humanity at the other end of what it is social work is supposed to do, to be passionate about.

Whatever the thing is, find something that you are passionate about and make that part of who you are as a professional so that your research is not something that is totally artificial to you, but something that is supportive and nurturing of your life course because no matter how smart you are as a scientist, we are all going to face the inevitability of death.

I think one of the horrible things that people get to, is that they don't have much to hold onto at the end of their career. If you're passionate about what you do, I believe you become fulfilled along the way and then you do not use this credential as a way of distancing yourself.

Catherine: Thank you so much for speaking with me and sharing with the SSWR Doctoral Student Task Force.

How I Work: Social Work Research Edition

How I Work: Social Work Research Edition is a new series of interviews the SSWR Doctoral Student Task Force will be sharing. This series and the questions have been inspired and adapted from Lifehacker's How I Work series (thank you Lifehacker!). We will be briefly interviewing individuals in the social work research arena about how they go about their work. We hope these interviews will give new insights to social work doctoral students and provide them a window into the lives of professors, researchers, deans, etc. We welcome recommendations of individuals to interview. Head over to the Facebook page to post your recommendations.

Dr. Tamara Cadet, LICSW, MPH
By: Kyle T. Ganson, LCSW, LICSW, Doctoral Student at Simmons College School of Social Work

Tamara Cadet, PhD, LICSW, MPH is an Assistant Professor where she brings more than 20 years of practice experiences in social work and public health to her research. Dr. Cadet particularly enjoys translating her research to practice for community-based organizations where she serves and preparing social workers for effective evidence-based practice. Dr. Cadet holds a faculty appointment at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine where she works with students in the Advanced Graduate Education Program in Dental Public Health.

Dr. Tamara Cadet

Dr. Tamara Cadet

Academic Role & Institution:
Assistant Professor, Simmons College School of Social Work

Area(s) of Research Interest:
Evidence-based health promotion interventions among vulnerable populations.

Kyle: What is your background and how you became a social work researcher?

Dr. Cadet: After receiving my Master’s in Public Health, I worked for many years in underserved communities as a health educator and community organizer. It was during this work I started to notice overall disparities in these communities in many aspects of the residents’ lives. It was my work as a community organizer providing technical assistance to communities across the country working to reduce the effects of substance use/abuse that sparked my initial interest in getting a PhD. However, I chose to get my MSW thinking that would be enough to begin to answer my “why” questions. Then, among other social work practice experiences, I started an adoption agency with a primary focus on placing children of color. This experience combined with my subsequent technical assistance work with Head Start agencies across the country that cemented my decision to get a PhD. As I was recruiting families to consider adoption, I became starkly aware of the lack of knowledge for the potential parents of color and started to ask the “why” question again. Simultaneously, I was participating in conversations about evaluation and recruiting participants as part of the technical assistance activities and again wondered quietly, “why are they not considering this strategy…it might work.” In addition, I was responsible for identifying evidence-based practices for communities and the big why was, “how and why these programs were effective for some populations and not others.” That question was the one. I started my PhD in 2007 and I finished in 2012.

Kyle: What does a typical work day look like for you?

Dr. Cadet: My days vary based on the work that needs to get done. Typically, I start with coffee – every day starts with coffee. I check my email for 30- 45 minutes or so responding to the emails that do not take more than a few minutes. I read the others so that I can think about my response and what I may need to do to respond. I will then divide up the rest of my day doing what I consider the hardest (analyses, writing). I will often alternate so that I am spending a few hours doing analyses and then take a break and spend a few hours writing. I am pretty consistent about taking an exercise break – I did not used to regularly do this, but I find I am more productive when I do. My days are long so I often end the day responding to the harder emails that I read earlier in the day and any news ones that have come in. I will often spend evenings doing my teaching prep as I find this uses a different part of my brain than analyses and writing. There are of course other tasks that interfere with this plan such as administrative responsibilities associated with a grant that I am on, writing new grants, submitting conference abstracts, or developing new collaborations.

Kyle: How do you keep track of what you need to get done?

Dr. Cadet: I admit I have an 8/5x11 monthly calendar with space to write tasks/appointments each day following the calendar layout. I like it because I can quickly glance at the most important tasks which are literally in the calendar layout. Usually, the Sunday of the week starting, I fill in the task in the daily space which helps me see what I should have done by the end of each week. It makes me less anxious. I do have post-its when I forget something but that post-it goes right into the monthly calendar side until I can find a specific date for it. So for me, as long as everything is written in one place - even if the notes to do it are on my computer or in another notebook - I am able to remember to get most things done.

Kyle: What advice would you offer to social work doctoral students?

Dr. Cadet: The best piece of advice I received from my mentors was that doctoral education is a process and it is a journey/marathon not a sprint. I would echo those sentiments. I know that it feels like there is so much to do and there is and if you have friendships that you are trying to maintain or family members that you are caring for, it may feel even harder and the need to go fast is clearly appropriate, but try to soak it all in. I developed this mantra at some point – “I needed time to marinate;” I am not a cook but I realized that I needed time to think and it was sort of like marinating in my mind. Looking back, those were the best moments for me. When I took the time to think, my research agenda gained such clarity. I could see past the dissertation and imagine myself as a social work researcher.

Kyle: What are some projects or publications that you would like people to know about?

Dr. Cadet: Currently, I am evaluating a mammography decision aid for women > 75 years of age with low health literacy funded through a NCI Diversity Supplement. In addition, I am working on a HRSA-funded project to train MSW students to integrate behavioral health in primary care settings and work as members of interprofessional teams.

Kyle: Thanks Dr. Cadet for your time, experiences, and advice!

How I Work: Social Work Research Edition

How I Work: Social Work Research Edition is a new series of interviews the SSWR Doctoral Student Task Force will be sharing. This series and the questions have been inspired and adapted from Lifehacker's How I Work series (thank you Lifehacker!). We will be briefly interviewing individuals in the social work research arena about how they go about their work. We hope these interviews will give new insights to social work doctoral students and provide them a window into the lives of professors, researchers, deans, etc. We welcome recommendations of individuals to interview. Head over to the Facebook page to post your recommendations.

Emma Carpenter

Emma Carpenter

This week on “This is How I Work” we are featuring Emma Carpenter, the new doctoral student member-at-large on the SSWR Board of Directors. Emma’s term runs from Feb. 2018 to Feb. 2020. Her role is to support doctoral student members of SSWR and represent doctoral student voices on the SSWR board.

Emma is a 3rd year PhD student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Emma’s research focuses on the intersection of family planning and social work research. Emma’s current projects investigate the social ecological factors of pregnancy acceptability, the role of sexual identity in shaping pregnancy and parenthood decisions, and how to improve reproductive health services for queer folks.

Before we dive into This is How I Work, let’s get to know a little bit more about Emma’s role on the board.

SSWR: What do you want doctoral students to know about SSWR?

Emma: We are really trying to engage doctoral students in SSWR! The conference provides a lot of great opportunities for doctoral students, but our work doesn’t stop between conferences. We have the doctoral student task force, (and it’s truly a FORCE). This group has been working hard, putting out blog posts and other original content, creating mentorship opportunities, and compiling resources to support fellow doc students through their program.

And, I really want to hear what doc students want. So, if you have an idea for a program or a resource that you want, please let me know. I’m all ears!

SSWR: What are your goals as the doctoral student-member-at-large?

Emma: My biggest goal is to get doc students engaged in SSWR. Doc students make up a large part of the membership, and we should be taking advantage of this amazing group of social work researchers. My goal is to continue providing mentorship opportunities and doctoral student-centered events at the annual conference, and to build opportunities outside the conference, too. I can’t wait to tap into the doctoral student network.

SSWR: One word that best describes how you work?

Emma: Musically. I can’t work without music. I’m often dancing—or at least tapping my foot—as I work.

SSWR: What does a typical work day look like for you?

Emma: I like to get up and get some exercise, make a to-do list over coffee, and then commute to campus. I try to work from my office on campus as much as possible because I am much more productive there.

I don’t have very much unscheduled time, but when I do, I try to use the Pomodoro method—25 minutes on, 5 minutes off, repeat 4 times and take a 25-minute break every 2 hours. This method helps me to not feel overwhelmed and to use my unstructured time well.

SSWR: What is your best time-saving short cut in your role as a social work doctoral student?

Emma: My biggest time-saver was starting to use the citation manager, EndNote. It saves me so much time and organizes all of my articles and citations. EndNote is amazing for literature reviews because I can add notes to each PDF.  It also works with Word, so I can automatically add citations as I’m writing. And, I never have to type a bibliography.

Also, because I’m easily distracted, I have a plug-in for my internet browser that blocks sites like Facebook and Twitter. When I really have to focus, I can shut down the whole internet for an hour. 

SSWR: How do you keep track of what you need to get done?

Emma: I like writing things down, so I have an old-fashioned hand-written to-do list and a physical planner.

SSWR: How do you recharge or take care of yourself outside of work?

Emma: I have a sweet dog named Gibson, who demands that I spend time outside every day. Breaking to take walks or run around with him is a daily source of joy!  I also rock climb, which is a great physical and mental challenge.

SSWR: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Emma: My first semester, a professor in my department told a group of first year doctoral students: “only spend time on research questions that you find deeply interesting and deeply compelling.”

This makes so much sense to me and I find myself coming back to advice a lot.

It is motivating to have projects that are important and that I can connect to on an emotional level. I think we do better research when we are invested not just as researchers, but as people.

SSWR: What advice would you offer to social work doctoral students?

Emma: Ask me when I graduate…?

Being a doctoral student is hard! And I’m still learning a lot.  If I had to give advice to an incoming doctoral student, I would tell them to invest time and energy into relationships with other doctoral students. My cohort is very supportive of one another and we make an effort to spend time together that isn’t focused on work. I think it is so important to invest in community and building those connections that aren’t just based on work, but on all of the other things you have in common. My community has helped me move through this process in countless ways! 


How I Work: Social Work Research Edition

How I Work: Social Work Research Edition is a new series of interviews the SSWR Doctoral Student Task Force will be sharing. This series and the questions have been inspired and adapted from Lifehacker's How I Work series (thank you Lifehacker!). We will be briefly interviewing individuals in the social work research arena about how they go about their work. We hope these interviews will give new insights to social work doctoral students and provide them a window into the lives of professors, researchers, deans, etc. We welcome recommendations of individuals to interview. Head over to the Facebook page to post your recommendations.

Dr. Lauren Willner
By: Sara Terrana, MA, MSW, doctoral student at UCLA – Luskin School of Public Affairs, Department of Social Welfare

Dr. Lauren Willner

Dr. Lauren Willner

Dr. Lauren Willner is an Assistant Professor of Social Work at California State University at Northridge (CSUN). Her research focuses on the nonprofit sector, specifically social justice and social change organizations. Currently though, Dr. Willner is collecting data for a rapid response research project on arming teachers in the classroom as a strategy for preventing gun violence in schools. She is conducting a national survey investigating teachers’ opinions on this subject. All current and former preschool through higher education teachers/professors, regardless of one’s perspective on the issue, are eligible to participate in the study.

I interviewed Dr. Willner for our series because she is a recent graduate of UCLA’s doctoral program in Social Welfare (’17), she is balancing teaching, a family, and doing some very relevant research so I thought she would provide a unique perspective to this new series. 

Sara: What is your background and how did you become a social work researcher?

Dr. Willner: I have a BA in Feminist Studies and my MSW in macro practice with a focus on nonprofit leadership and administration. I worked in a number of nonprofits prior to pursuing my Ph.D. I became a social work researcher because I had "big" questions about social work practice and organizations that I couldn't answer solely through field-based practice. I was always more of a "big picture" thinker, and it made sense that I pursue a career in research, so I could try to attack some of the more systemic questions I have about the ways Social Justice and Human Service Organizations function in relation to social change. My practice and research has always been heavily informed by Critical Theory and doing research that had practical implications, like social welfare research, felt like a perfect way to use theory to inform practice in meaningful ways.

Sara: What is one word that best describes how you work?

Dr. Willner: Frenetically.

Sara: What does a typical workday look like for you?

Dr. Willner: There is no typical day, which is something I am trying to come to terms with as a new faculty member. Every week looks different, and I am starting to give up on trying to make my job into the "typical" 9-5, it just isn't working! I am becoming more at ease with the variance in my schedule, and simply taking each week as it comes. Some weeks are more teaching focused, others are more research focused, and some weeks I strike a nice balance. I typically spend at least three days/week in my campus office. Two days/week I work from home.

Sara: What is your best time-saving shortcut in your role as a social work researcher?

Dr. Willner: I am working on designating certain times during the day to email and closing it down when I am writing or doing other tasks. Email seems to be the most distracting for me, and it’s hard to not write someone back as soon as the notification comes in. It can suck up a ton of time though, and it works against my productivity during the day.

Sara: What are your techniques for collaborating with colleagues?

Dr. Willner: I am working on developing tools and strategies for doing this. I am finding it’s really easy to say, “Hey, let’s write that paper together, or submit to that conference together” and then never do it. I am working on following up with colleagues when we have an idea, and getting time scheduled, even if it’s 20 minutes, to talk about our ideas. Making a plan for getting the project done and setting deadlines with each other is proving effective. I also love being able to use to collaborate and keep things in order, it’s a great tool.

Sara: How do you keep track of what you need to get done?

Dr. Willner: WUNDERLIST! It’s saving me right now, it’s on all of my devices and computers (of which I probably have too many), and I have finally figured out a way to organize my weekly and longer-term to-do lists in ways that make sense for me. I can’t recommend it enough!

Sara: What is your least favorite work and how do you deal with it?

Dr. Willner: I really don’t like grading papers. I like reading what my students write, and learning about their ideas, but for some reason it feels like the most tedious task of all. It also takes up so much time that it winds up feeling very overwhelming. I am trying to schedule grading days into my schedule after assignments are turned in, and I am actively working on not saving it for the last minute. When I do, it delays giving the papers back, which isn’t fair to students.

Sara: How do you recharge or take care of yourself outside of work?

Dr. Willner: I don’t do very much these days other than working out when I have time. I spend time with my family, which includes a three-year-old, so I am not sure how much “recharging” actually happens, but we still have fun!

Sara: What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

Dr. Willner: It's not really advice as much as it was a piece of wisdom that has been really, really helpful. During my first year in my Ph.D. program, a professor assigned Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers for us to read. We didn't understand why we were reading it, but we had a conversation about how it takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. I had no idea at that time, or even throughout the time I was getting my degree, how important this idea would become. Every time I felt like I wasn't making progress, or suffered from imposter syndrome, I would remember Gladwell and take a breath. Before I hit the 10,000-ish hours, I didn’t quite believe this whole idea to be true. But, after working so hard for so long, and finally graduating and getting a job, I realized that at some point, a shift had occurred. Somewhere along the line, doing research and being a scholar had started to feel like second nature. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still hard, and I still suffer from imposter syndrome! But, I have much more confidence in my abilities to do good work, in my skills as a qualitative researcher, and in my goals of making a difference through my research. I realized this shift had occurred during my last year as a student, when I was juggling the job market, collecting and analyzing dissertation data, and a toddler. This was also about the time that I had put in my 10,000 or so hours. It was an incredible realization to have, and I would encourage everyone to remember that getting a Ph.D. and being a good researcher is really, really hard! You don't become good at it overnight, it takes an enormous amount of work and perseverance. But there is a threshold between not really knowing what you are doing (or feeling like you don't know what you're doing!) and becoming competent. You may not know at the time when you cross over the dividing line, but eventually, you do. And it's amazing when you realize you are on the other side!

Sara: What advice would you offer to social work doctoral students?

Dr. Willner: Try, at all costs, to be confident in who you are and who want to be as a researcher/academic/teacher/practitioner or whatever else you want to be! There are A LOT of naysayers, tune them out as best as possible, and do you. And find the people who support you in being who you want to be. Get rid of the rest.

Sara: What are some projects or publications that you would like people to know about?

Dr. Willner: I am working on a research project in response to the national debate around gun control. I am currently collecting survey data on arming teachers as a strategy for preventing gun violence in schools.

My goal in collecting this data is to produce findings that will more intentionally infuse the voice of teachers into this debate. All current and former Preschool through Higher Education teachers/professors, regardless of one’s perspective on the issue, are eligible to participate in the study.

Here is a link to the survey:

TAs are also eligible to participate, so even if you haven’t taught your own classes yet, please feel free to answer the survey if you’ve been a TA. I also encourage you to share the link widely, with your personal and professional networks!

Sara: Wow, that is some very interesting and relevant research. Thank you very much from all of us at the SSWR Doctoral Student Task Force for taking the time to contribute to our new series!

How I Work: Social Work Research Edition

How I Work: Social Work Research Edition is a new series of interviews the SSWR Doctoral Student Task Force will be sharing. This series and the questions have been inspired and adapted from Lifehacker's How I Work series (thank you Lifehacker!). We will be briefly interviewing individuals in the social work research arena about how they go about their work. We hope these interviews will give new insights to social work doctoral students and provide them a window into the lives of professors, researchers, deans, etc. We welcome recommendations of individuals to interview. Head over to the Facebook page to post your recommendations.

Dr. Loretta Pyles
By: Catherine Kramer, LMSW, MPA at the University at Albany, SUNY

Dr. Loretta Pyles

Dr. Loretta Pyles

Dr. Loretta Pyles is a Professor at the School of Social Welfare at the University at Albany, SUNY. Her scholarship centers on the ways that individuals, organizations, and communities resist and respond to poverty, violence, and disasters in a policy context of neoliberal economic globalization and social welfare retrenchment. Dr. Pyles is the author of two new books, Healing Justice: Holistic Self-Care for Change Makers and Production of Disaster and Recovery in Post-Earthquake Haiti: Disaster Industrial Complex (with Dr. Juliana Svistova). 

I asked Dr. Pyles to participate in our new series because I learned from her that the process of getting a PhD is not just a professional or scholarly endeavor. It is also involves learning a great deal about yourself, who you are, and how you work.

Catherine: What is your background and how did you become a social work researcher?

Dr. Pyles: My first entree into social work was working in a domestic violence program back in 1995. I started out as a volunteer and got very engaged and ended up applying for a job, eventually becoming the Director of Fundraising and Community Affairs. I did everything from direct service to grant writing to community education and community building type work. I got burnt out from that eventually and found myself working at a State Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Coalition. It's a nonprofit that was supporting all the domestic violence and sexual assault programs in the state. My work focused on technical assistance to those programs, as well as policy work, specifically focused on welfare reform and family violence.

That was really when I decided to get my PhD.  I started my PhD in 2001 and finished in 2005, and throughout my PhD, I stayed focused on this intersection between violence against women and economic justice. That trajectory changed though after I got my first academic position at Tulane University in New Orleans right around the time Hurricane Katrina hit. I quickly became interested in community-based responses to disasters, and that's been a primary focus of my research, in addition to my work on community organizing and integrative/holistic social work and pedagogy.

Catherine: What is the one word that best describes how you work?

Dr. Pyles: I would say organically. When sitting down to write an article or a proposal, I just start writing. I do not do it in a linear way, and I think that's okay. I think a lot of people feel like you must prepare an outline, you must work in a very linear way. My mind does work linearly and an outline does emerge in my head, but I like the process of working on ideas as they arise. Working on a section here, and a section there, and just letting it sort of unfold. I learned early on that I do not want to discount my own intuition in the creative process, even though it is scholarly work, so I try to draw from that. I’ve never wanted to be straightjacketed by somebody’s else’s notion of what scholarship is.

Catherine: What does a typical work day look like for you?

Dr. Pyles: It depends on if I'm working at home or if I'm coming to campus. I try to work at home one or two days a week. I have a long commute, so it saves me time in terms of getting ready, as well as driving. Generally, for me, I do not jump right into work. I have to do some meditation and yoga and do the things I need to do to take care of myself. Then I will jump in. Usually by 8:00-8:30am I’ll start working when I’m at home, and when I'm on campus, usually by 9:00am. I’m also consistent about ending my work day by 5:00 and getting to bed early every night.

I will answer emails and respond to what needs to be responded to immediately, but I usually have some sort of key tasks for the day that I hope to accomplish. That could just be one bigger thing or three or four medium things.

I always take a decent lunch break. I try to get up and/or get away from my desk throughout the day. I cannot say I have always done that. It's something I've learned to do to help take care of myself and my body.  I set the computer aside and just take time to nourish myself.

Also, early on in my career, I mean even as a student but also as an early pre-tenure professor, I realized that I was going to have to write during the day, and I'm not always going to have big blocks of time for doing that. I learned early on that even if I just have an hour or so, that can be time for writing.

Catherine: How do you maximize those small time blocks?

Dr. Pyles: Some people talk about breaking tasks down, say into 10 component parts or whatever. Sometimes a bigger job will naturally lend itself to breaking it down that way, other times, again, I'm working organically. I'm going to open the document and see where I am that day and see what happens. That's just how I work. Looking for low hanging fruit that is there. For example, I have not caught up with my references lately, let me clean up these references or I need to read a couple of articles on this topic, so that I can flush out this section, let me do that.

I used to feel like whatever I did was not enough. I did not finish it, so I was not productive enough in a given writing session. But, I have learned to take small pleasures in what I did accomplish. It feels good to have cleaned up those references or to have flushed out that section. To just take pleasure in the small gains each day, that’s really powerful.

Catherine: How do you recharge or take care of yourself outside of work?

Dr. Pyles: I try to set the work aside and get away from email and that sort of thing. A clear division between my personal life, and professional life. I'm not always perfect with that but I try. Like I was saying, yoga and meditation. I try to get away and do meditation retreats, that really helps me. I'll completely unplug for like seven to ten days where I'm not checking it at all, and I'm not taking in any new data. I think we are such an information, data-driven society and there is so much stimulation. I think the stimulation gets really exhausting, so I try to take a break from it. I live out in the country so when I’m working from home, I have the great pleasure of being able to go walk in my own woods. During the day that can be really helpful, just to take a little 20-minute walk in the woods with the dog. I’ve also just recently gotten into disc golf so when the weather is nice I like to get out and play.

Catherine: What is the best piece of advice you've ever received?

Dr. Pyles: This came from a mentor of mine named Ed Canda, and he is a faculty at the University of Kansas. There was a point during my PhD program where I was unsure if social work was really the path for me in terms of my scholarly endeavors. My whole life I have tended to think that it must be better somewhere else or there must be something else out there.

He said, "You’ve got to land somewhere." When I heard that, it seemed like wise words and it ended up being very helpful to me, something I have come back to when I find myself searching for something else. I can do the work that I'm called to do in social work. Yes, it's not perfect but in some other discipline it's not going to be perfect either, nothing is going to be perfect. That was helpful to me and landing here in this profession, I've been able to build a body of work and make a modest impact by just staying put and doing it.

There is an old saying, if you are trying to dig a well for water, you are not going to find it if you dig only a few inches and then move somewhere else, constantly searching. You have to stay put in one place and dig deep. The rewards, i.e. the water, will come.

Catherine: What projects have you been working on?

Dr. Pyles: Two major publications I have coming out in the next month. One is a book with a former PhD student, Juliana Svistova, it's called, Production of Disaster and Recovery and Post-Earthquake Haiti: Disaster Industrial Complex. It is part of the Routledge Humanitarian Studies Series. We conducted research extensively over several years using critical discourse analysis of media, policy documents and NGO documents related to the recovery of Haiti earthquakes. It's our final coup de grâce with that work, and we are excited about it seeing the light of day. Some of the theorizing that we're doing in that work, we think is innovative, having interdisciplinary impacts in development and humanitarian circles, as well as in social work, geography, planning, Haitian-Caribbean studies, and others.

The other book is called, Healing Justice: Holistic Self-Care for Change Makers, coming out from Oxford University Press. This book frames self-care as a social justice issue and contextualizes self-care in light of oppression, trauma, social welfare retrenchment, digital capitalism, and neoliberalism. I view it as an active resistance to these larger forces. It offers significant analysis in that regard, but also lots of actual practical skill building using the whole self – body, mind, spirit, the natural world, and community – for self-care. I'm also a meditation and yoga teacher, so that piece figures prominently in it. I think it is an exciting offering. I heard from my social work students for many years that faculty tell them that they should do self-care, but no one ever teaches them how to do it or really models it. It is my offering to students and practitioners – social workers, activists, change makers and caregivers. It is intended to be a crossover book bridging scholarship and practice, and hopefully serving as a resource that can be of support, and accessible to everybody.

Catherine: Thank you so much for speaking with me and sharing with the SSWR Doctoral Student Task Force.

Best Practices for Publishing Qualitative Social Work Research

Assistant Professor Shiyou Wu, School of Social Work, Arizona State University talks qualitative research with the SSWR Doctoral Student Task Force about his paper “Author Guidelines for Qualitative Research Manuscripts Submitted to JSSWR.”

By: Catherine Kramer, LMSW, MPA, School of Social Welfare, University at Albany – SUNY

As a doctoral student, Dr. Shiyou Wu worked with Dr. Mark Fraser, professor at the University of North Carolina, and former editor-in-chief for the Journal of the Society for Social Work Research. Wu and Fraser regularly reviewed article submissions to the journal, and noted an increasing amount of research utilizing qualitative methodologies. However, they found that, unlike the quantitative articles they reviewed, the quality and consistency of the qualitative submissions varied widely. 

“On the quantitative side there is a fixed structure to follow – first the introduction, then methods and sampling section, followed by other prescribed sections – and everyone conforms to that structure and will report similar types of details used to assess the rigor of the work. However, on the qualitive side, there are all kinds of variations, so it is difficult to determine whether the author did a rigorous study or not – it was often difficult to tell based on the different details authors would decide to disclose in the article,” said Wu. 

Wu and Fraser believed that developing a structured framework could help not only improve the rigor of qualitative social work research but also encourage more researchers to use qualitative methods. 

“Our hope is that in the future, all qualitative social work research will be more rigorous, and more standardized. This will help others evaluate work as well. For example, if we want to look at the sample in a particular qualitative study, we can easily go to the methods section and expect that the information will be there,” said Wu. 

For emerging social work scholars, particularly doctoral students, Wu hopes this framework will “provide a starting point, and a basic idea of how to complete a writeup of their work.” 

Along with Diane Wyant, also of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Wu and Fraser conducted an in-depth review process to develop their proposed framework and guidelines. This included a review of high impact journals in the areas of social work, sociology and nursing such as the Journal of Social Work, the Journal of Social Work Practice, and Social Service Review. The first draft of the guidelines was reviewed by top qualitative methodologists, including leading expert Deborah Padgett, and opened for a period of public comment. 

“The framework not only provides a structure for what components should be there, but also details about the type of information to include in each component – and all this is based on what experts in this area have to say, whether we found it in literature or through seeking feedback,” said Wu. 

Of course, many would argue that by nature, qualitative research is more fluid, evolving and contextualized than quantitative research, therefore, something like a framework may not be appropriate. Wu acknowledges that this concern surfaced during the comment period. 

“It is hard for qualitative research to have a fixed framework. When we say qualitative research, we are really talking about a diverse set of methodologies, each situated and positioned uniquely from each other. However, no matter the specific methodology being used, I think there is basic information that should always be provided during reporting. 

As social work researchers, we are trying to prove that social work is a profession, that our research is science. For it to be science, all studies need to be conducted and reported in a rigorous way. It is more than just telling a story. The purpose of you telling the story is to correct the social problem. And the framework is critical because it makes our story replicable, so others can get the same result when addressing the social problem.” 

For doctoral students who want to become strong qualitative researchers, Wu recommends identifying a mentor who conducts qualitative research, and getting actively involved in doing research with this mentor. He also cautions doctoral students against working closely with only one mentor. 

“Try to make more connections, and collaborate with different faculty because each will have different things to offer. This can also help with developing and publishing manuscripts. The bar is set high in the job market, try to collaborate, and publish with as many qualitative mentors as you can,” said Wu. 

Wu also advises doctoral students to read as much as they can. “I would say, try to identify sources or authors of high-quality qualitative research and follow these publications or individuals. Use this as your guide for developing your own work.” 

Though Wu has utilized a range of qualitative methods himself, such as, ethnographic, and photovoice, he urges doctoral students to remain open to both quantitative and qualitative research methods.

“I do not want to see social work researchers, especially doctoral students, restrain themselves to just one method. Like identifying ourselves as a qualitative person or a quantitative person, I am not in favor of this. Our research questions should guide our selection of the methodology. As a doctoral student, it is important to prepare yourself with the skills to answer all types of questions you will ask in the future.”

Interview with Jeff Jenson Editor-in-Chief JSSWR

Jeff Jenson, editor-in-chief of the Journal of the Society of Social Work Research, sat down with Sara Terrana and Kyle Ganson of the SSWR doctoral task force at the 2018 SSWR Conference to talk about being an editor of a major social work journal and provide tips to doctoral students looking to publish their work. 

L-R: Kyle Ganson, Jeff Jenson, Sara Terrana

L-R: Kyle Ganson, Jeff Jenson, Sara Terrana

Sara: When it comes to doctoral students submitting their first journal article, what is the best piece of advice you can give?

Jeff: It's important to have that article probably coauthored with someone that you've been working with, as a mentor. That is a logical path for example. The paper should have gone through several reviews already before you submit it to any journal. And then it's… well there are several things to think about, right? What journal is the best fit for my manuscript? If it's an empirical article, it should go to journals that tend to publish empirical papers. Or if it is a quantitative or a qualitative article, different journals will tend to emphasize one or the other. Even if they don't say it in their guidelines, they say it through their actions and what they're accepting and what's in the table of contents, so reviewing some table of contents over the past few years is an important part of that. Get to know the journals landscape and what they typically publish.

Sara: And any ideas on the best way to carve up a dissertation into journal articles?

Jeff: There's a lot of schools doing three paper dissertations these days. So, that can sometimes lend itself more directly to publication. The historical, long dissertation, maybe that's what you're referring to? Yeah, so, that becomes a little more challenging to some degree. Usually it would come down to publishing the part of the dissertation that has the findings. It's hard these days to publish what is typically like the first and second chapter of a standard dissertation where there is a review of the literature leading to research questions. Journals have kind of gone beyond that and in most cases, to publish those kinds of reviews you almost have to have a systematic review of the literature to have it published. And, unfortunately, in some ways too, conceptual papers are harder to publish than they used to be.

So, that's not to be pessimistic, but you know the main paper that comes from the dissertation is probably your methodology. You're cutting down the length of the dissertation to an empirical paper or an outcome paper. Does that make sense, all that work for one publication? Well, yeah maybe. Sometimes students have obviously more data that would warrant two papers. That's fine. Yet, I think you want to… You have to be a little cautionary though about slicing things so thin that you have nothing to say almost in each paper. I don't like that. I think most editors don’t like that. It's kind of a… “Well this is really kind of inconsequential.” “What about the other outcomes?” You know what I’m saying there? So, you have to be a little careful of that.

Kyle: Would you recommend doing the three papers option?

Jeff: Yeah, we don’t use that at Denver right now. But I think it's… we're talking about it and I know a lot of schools have done it. I think it's a good model actually. Generally, I’d be supportive of that. I don't know if you generally see three papers coming from the 3-paper model or not. It might be a little hard, depending on what you decide because if you do a systematic review I suppose, as part of the long dissertation, which I think they do at Wash U, if I’m not mistaken, then that could be one publishable paper in addition to the findings. But it depends on the structure.

Kyle: What are your thoughts on the cover letter when submitting an article?

Jeff: I don't really look at them. In fact, I think, we don't even have a vehicle to do that at JSSWR. I think that’s gone. And I think that's a growing trend, actually. So, I would not put a lot of energy into that even if you think it's asked for or required. I would simply just outline, “the study addresses this, it's significant because, it's innovative because,” you know? I think three or four sentences. There’s already a lot to read.

Sara: Should doctoral students mention that they are doctoral students in a cover letter if it is required?

Jeff: Generally that wouldn't be in the letter. You know, your credentials will show up in the submission steps. When you have a Ph.D. it will show up there.

Sara: What about suggesting possible scholars to review one’s article?

Jeff: That's a good idea. JSSWR, and I think most journals have an option for that upon submission: “Would you like to suggest reviewers that would be good for this manuscript?” Suggest scholars who you haven't written with and who aren't on the team, if you’re working with a group obviously. Usually, it should be someone from outside the institution. The school that you’re at, you know? But, yeah, it's sometimes very helpful depending on how narrow the specialized area is. We're doing a special section on social work and neuroscience this year and I had to ask all the authors to send me reviewers.

Sara: And it’s ok if you don't do it, right?

Jeff: Yeah, it’s totally up to you. I think most editors will take, you know, if you send us three, we might take one of your suggestions. It’s probably unlikely to take all three. There's also a place in many submissions where you can send an opposed reviewer option. If you think there's someone that shouldn't review your paper, for whatever reason, you can then state their name.

Sara: All right, that's interesting. The politics of academia [laughter].

Kyle: So, this kind of goes back to what you talked about in the Journal Editors presentation, but what is the evaluation process like for a JSSWR submission? What is the backlog like and estimated time for article submissions receiving feedback? What is the time of revisions to be completed?

Jeff: Yeah, I should send you our annual report! That's all in there. I could do that. But we pride ourselves, in being quick. So far, we've been able to maintain that. So, we give reviewers three weeks. They usually hit the mark on that pretty close, once they’ve accepted the assignment. And then, so, some of your other questions were around…

Kyle: The backlog, when will you receive feedback after the three weeks? How fast will you have to respond to revisions?

Jeff: We give people, what is it, 60 days. That's kind of flexible, though. If someone just emails me and tells me they need more time, then I’ll just give it to them. There isn't really a magic 60 days, though you don't want to lose them entirely. You want to keep people moving forward, but I would give more time. We have not had a big backlog, but for the first time, we're struggling with that a little bit. We have a special issue planned in 2018 on healthy youth development. Kind of mirrors that grand challenge and that will take away 8 or 10 articles that were in the queue. So, for the first time we're probably looking at 9 months or so of a wait for some papers who have been accepted and maybe up to a year. We're trying to do something about that. I met with our University Chicago Press person who’s here presenting to the SSWR board with me the other day. And, you know, I began the conversation about increasing the page numbers for the journal. So, we’re hoping for that but that is a contract though.

Sara: This kind of a side question. So, let's say someone gets through the revision process, it's accepted and published online, but the print version hasn’t come out. Say it’s accepted online in 2017 but the print doesn't come out till 2018. What do you put on your CV?

Jeff: You could say, um that's a good question. You'd probably say “in press” until it hit that issue. That's probably what I would do. You usually don't put a date next to it. You just say, “in press” and it implies that that's exactly where it is. You could put after the title of the journal, you could put “ahead of print” or “AOP” with the DOI and a link to the website. But look that up. Because technically, it would be published in the year that hits the issue even though it's ahead of print.

Sara: How important is it to specifically cite JSSWR articles when submitting to JSSWR?

Jeff: Oh, not that important. You want to cite articles that are the ones to cite. I wouldn’t play around with that. I mean it sure it's great… [laughter].

Sara: Yeah it seems like some journals are pretty specific and state that you should cite… from our journal.

Jeff: I know. I wouldn't take that step. The science says to draw and drive who and what you're citing. So, if there in our journal, great or not.

Kyle: Any advice to first time authors in interpreting feedback from reviewers and then best ways to respond to a revise and resubmit (R&R)?

Jeff: Yeah, yeah interpreting the reviews sometimes they're pretty straightforward. I try to provide, and our associated editors some of them do this too, I will sometimes interpret sticky areas or I will point the authors to pay attention to these two points that were embedded in the reviews. So that's one thing. I think otherwise it's just you know pass it to someone. Have a mentor look at it. “What do you think of these reviews?” Get some different opinions. The standard these days for revise and resubmit are to construct a table that on the left-hand column are the reviewer comments and on the right-hand column is your response. So those can get pretty long. But it helps tremendously when the paper is resubmitted and goes back to those reviewers. It helps tremendously for them to see that you’ve addressed each of their points. So, I'd probably encourage you to do that. Not to be a little anal but sometimes the more thorough you are, the better. if you just send the revision back with a memo at the end of the revision that says you’ve addressed the concerns in this way but you've done it kind of… if it's too general then it's not going to fare well. It's worth it to spend the extra time. Ask someone to see an example of one and then that speeds up your process.

Kyle: I have second question on that one and this is only because I’ve submitted articles and I haven't heard back yet. What are some of the things that you reject articles for or ask for revisions around? What are some of the common themes that you end up seeing?

Jeff: Well, there are several, I guess. The methodology is weak. So, the basic plan of, the research plan is weak. That's probably the most common. Another is that there's limitations that kind of kill the article or that it needs more work. And that might mean revise or reject. So, when reviewers are kind of quick to point those things ou and if there's a lot of deficiencies that can be even just the way people are describing their measures… They're not being complete, you know how they do that. So, if you think of the standard empirical scholarly article with a method that includes all subjects and measures and announces a measurement and analysis plan, if there's weaknesses anywhere in there, that’s kind of a first flag. The other things have to do with, you know, is this an important question? Is it worth publishing? And then of course there's writing quality. If the writing quality is bad, it really detracts from the study and it can really get under some reviewer’s skin. You know it taints even the science. So, you need the whole package, I guess. But I mean those are some of the things that would jump out at me but mainly, if it's in an empirical paper, it's something around the way the study was conducted and, or it could be the way the study was described. You know, they just didn't do a great job because they didn't write it up very well.

Sara: And do you know how many, like say after the paper gets a R&R from JSSWR, and the person goes through and does the revisions and it comes back that it gets rejected. Does that ever happen?  

Jeff: Yeah it happens. Not as often though. Usually there is some desire to publish that paper by then. We had one though last week that came back twice and they rejected it. And the rejects at that stage are generally the authors did not address the reviewers’ concerns. And most of our associate editors will then say “you know, that's enough, twice and they didn't address the concerns. Let's reject it and they can always start over.” I don't have a number for it. But yeah, it's more common that things will, that authors will address all those original comments and they’ll be pretty serious about it with that table I mentioned. So, they stand a pretty good chance to get published. And then sometimes there's a second revision that has to be undertaken after that one.

Sara: Should it be acknowledged that the submitted article has been presented at x, y, and z conferences? And does this affect journal submission?

Jeff: No, we don't worry too much about that, frankly. Some journals may have some requirements about that. In the agreement you sign with the journal, there's something about “this article has not been published anywhere else.” We don't usually, we don't usually say you know this paper was originally presented at the SSWR conference in 2016 or something. But you may come across a journal that asks you to tell more about prior conference presentations or submissions than we do.

Kyle: What types of articles is JSSWR we're most interested? Macro, micro, clinical, etc.?

Jeff: Well we publish mostly research reports that are quantitative in nature. They can be of a macro or micro perspective, so to speak. I think we publish more that are studies of group designs. You know we don't publish a lot of highly clinical papers. So, more studies in the intervention sphere. We’d want good quasi-experimental or controlled trials that would be more of what you'd think of as standard research reports with outcomes. We publish what I call, I guess, a lot of modeling type papers. Some people are looking at relationships between variables in complex ways using things like SEM and things like that. Journals have their own niches and ours is a little more in that direction. We'll publish qualitative papers, though. In fact, the recipient of the Excellence in Research from this SSWR conference I noticed was one of our papers that I believe was qualitative. We get we get some measurement type papers. You heard Bruce Thyer say too in the session he wasn't accepting those anymore. There's kind of been a lot of those submitted to social work journals. So, we're being a little more selective about those and sometimes what do they really mean or are they contributing that much to the profession? We have to look at that. Systematic reviews we’d like to get. There's kind of a problem out there with systematic reviews, I think, right now and we've seen it in our journal and that is that people are submitting what they call systematic reviews but they're not systematic because they're not following the standard guidelines. We’ve just rewritten our guidelines and we’ll have new ones up in about a month and being tighter about that, for example. So, that's a matter to pay attention to the journal’s guidelines. Those are the main ones, I think.

Sara: Is there any optimal time to submit an article? At the session it was talked about, “hey the semester ends, we have the summer” and also as graduate students we often feel our work is never ready…?

Jeff: I don't know. Time of the year, probably doesn't matter that much, to be honest. You know there's, there's always a few more submissions at the end of the summer because people have been writing. A good journal editor has to deal with that. I don’t know if it matters too much. When is a paper ready? Well, have it read by people. For sure. You know it's like writing grant proposals, it's not a thing you can do in isolation. It's really good to get feedback from other people before you send it in. Be willing to put that time into it because it’ll pay off on the decision.

Kyle: If one submits an article while on the job market and receives a R&R can the students switch affiliations if they get a job?

Jeff: Yes, definitely, easy to do. Just notify the managing editor or the editor. There should be a mechanism there. You'd usually do that because you want it, well even though the work was done while you're at UCLA, but you get a job at USC, you’d switch it. Yeah, journals don't care about that.

Sara: Can you talk a little bit about the idea of creating this manuscript review mentorship program for senior scholars in the field to be matched with junior scholars?

Jeff: Well, I have thought for a while that it would be good to do, whether it's JSSWR or another journal, could mount it. It would be good to have a process or a kind of system in place that would match folks like yourself who are just starting to write reviews and write articles or for assistant professors, even more so, probably, that are taking responsibility for writing reviews. So probably more assistant professors in some ways as junior scholars, with people who have written a lot of reviews, senior scholars. I do a lot of work in prevention sciences. I've been on the board of the Society for Prevention Research on and off. They have a journal called Prevention Science that does this really well. It matches, and they have a process by which people apply to be a mentee. So, you’d simply state you were interested and you'd be selected and you'd be matched to work with the senior scholar who has done a lot of reviews. There's some processes in place to do that. That's the kind of thing that I mentioned in that e-mail. We haven't found the resources to do that, frankly. I mean that's more time, I guess, and commitment from people. So, I think with doctoral students some things we talked about in the panel would be just, I think, I know I mentioned I think this idea of getting some practice writing reviews as a doctoral student, maybe mock reviews. I guess theoretically you could take that model I just talked about with assistant professors and do it with doctoral students and the senior faculty member would be responsible for the submission of the review, but the doctoral student could be part of that review. I've had that happen informally at JSSWR, actually. We had a paper and there was a doc student that was kind of real narrow topic area and a faculty member who I asked to review it wrote me back and said, “I have a doctoral student who I think could do this better. Let me do that with the doctoral student.” And that worked quite well. So, maybe, I think we could do that. It's not rocket science. We could figure out how to do it. You know, this whole enterprise it's really important and I think you heard everybody, and Mark was saying it, how reviewers turn you down. They say, “I can’t do it now.” And so you go the next reviewer or so forth. But I think that we do, there is a service piece there that people have to be willing to contribute towards or the field doesn't change.

Kyle: Do you ever finds any bias in the peer reviewers in that they are likely researching in the same area?

Jeff: They select or are over-critical or something?

Kyle: Yeah, or just thinking, you know, they wish they did that idea or things like that.

Jeff: I don't see it that blatantly. Reviewers are working in the same area because that's what you want. That is the case, almost always. I’ve not seen a lot of that I can say. Whether it's sometimes hidden a little bit, I don't know. Most reviewers are pretty straightforward, pretty honest, and we get the occasional one where, as was mentioned at the panel, I have to edit out some comments that were not very helpful. They are being a little harsh or something. Mostly it doesn't happen though. So, I don't see a lot of that.

Sara: One final question. Can you tell me a little bit about this band you play?

Jeff: Ah, the band. That's the fun stuff. So, yeah, it's The Friendly Visitors you're alluding to. Right? Yeah, it comes from the name of the first social workers in Chicago in the late 1800s where they were called, Jane Adamms and the pioneers, were called “friendly visitors”. The older folks they get it right away. Oh yeah, it’s kind of fun [laughter]. Anyway, I put this together, I don't know, 6 or 7 years ago. We played at the SSWR conference. Sometimes the opening reception and this time it's the presidential one on Saturday night. It's a rotating cast but the core comes from Denver where I am. Right now I have a doc student who is a tremendous fiddler. So, you know, I capture people. Now we play in Denver under a different style but it's kind of an Americana sound. It’s a little folky. And so that's, yeah that's fun [laughter]. Let's see, who else is in it. Dan Hermann from Hunter is in the band has been with us since we started, myself, and two from Denver. And we pull up people too to play with us.

Sara: Thank you so much. The Doctoral Student Task Force thanks you too!

Kyle: Yeah, thank you. Thank you so much for your time.

Jeff: Yeah, it was fun talking with you!

2018 SSWR Conference Reflection

For the next few weeks, we will be posting reflections from doctoral student task force members and their experiences at the 2018 SSWR Conference in DC. 

L-R: Dr. Sarah McMahon, Julia O’Connor, Sangeeta Chatterji

L-R: Dr. Sarah McMahon, Julia O’Connor, Sangeeta Chatterji

Julia O’Connor
Doctoral Candidate
Rutgers University School of Social Work

1. Your experience in DC: Anything fun you did or people you met.
I loved every moment I spent at “A Baked Joint”! This amazing bakery and coffee shop is a must visit for biscuits, fried green tomato sandwiches and all other carb products. Before boarding the train back to Jersey, I stocked up on a sandwich, biscuit, brownie and loaf of bread!

2. Most unique, intriguing, thought-provoking presentation you attended.
This year, I enjoyed the violence against women and children (VAWC) SIG that was held on Thursday. This special half day SIG included presentations and breakout small groups sessions where I met other PhD students and prominent scholars in my area.

3. Your main takeaways and what you will take back with you to you work.
Network only as long as you can. While networking is important, so is self-care. For those of us introverts four to five days of networking, while rewarding, can be draining. Take time to enjoy your own interests (eating biscuits), catch up with friends, sightsee, or daydream about exciting research ideas while taking a break from the joys of networking.  

2018 SSWR Conference Reflection

For the next few weeks, we will be posting reflections from doctoral student task force members and their experiences at the 2018 SSWR Conference in DC. 

Wendy Haight's Aaron Rosen Lecture: "Understanding Stigmatization and Resistance through Ethnography: Implications for Practice and Research."

Wendy Haight's Aaron Rosen Lecture: "Understanding Stigmatization and Resistance through Ethnography: Implications for Practice and Research."

Sara Terrana, MSW, MA
Doctoral Student - Dept. of Social Welfare
UCLA - Luskin School of Public Affairs

1. Your experience in DC: Anything fun you did or people you met.
I spent the majority of my time at the conference hotel, which at times felt like I was living on a cruise ship being that everything was self-contained! It seemed like every time I turned around I would see an old friend or someone I recognized from past conferences. That is always a highlight for me while at a conference as big as SSWR. One thing I always feel at big conferences like this is to schedule in time to get outside for some fresh air and sunlight. While I didn't do as much of that as I would have liked, I was able to pick up dinner one night from Busboys & Poets, and even though it was only take-out, I always love being in the atmosphere of that restaurant. Another night, I met up with some of my cohort from UCLA at Farmer's & Distillers. This was a fun night to catch up with each other and to support one another too.

2. Most unique, intriguing, thought-provoking presentation you attended.
Hmm, so many good sessions happened! I particularly enjoyed the "Invited Journal Editors' Workshop" as well as Wendy Haight's Aaron Rosen Lecture: "Understanding Stigmatization and Resistance through Ethnography: Implications for Practice and Research." I would like to say though that the best thing I did at the conference this year was taking part in the mentor match program offered by the Mentoring Committee of the Task Force. This hour spent with my "mentor" gave me a new perspective on being in academia, and she even connected me to two of her colleagues, both of whom I have spoken on the phone with and plan to meet up in person in the near future! 

3. Your main takeaways and what you will take back with you to you work.
1) Before the conference starts, peruse the online program to get a sense of which sessions and what events you want to attend. Also, reach out to people who you have an interest in their work. Then make a skeleton schedule so that you can fit in a couple of sessions along with a lot of networking. 

2) Be prepared - always have business cards on you and have your presentations done so that at the conference you can just attend others without worrying about your own.

3) Get involved - I found that by doing things such as the 'meet the scientist' luncheon, the mentor match, the doctoral student luncheon, as well as attending some of the receptions was a wonderful way to network.

Doctoral Student Luncheon

Doctoral Student Luncheon