This textbook is only possible because of the manifold contributions of two communities: social work education and open education. The process of creating this textbook is documented in a teaching note by the lead author, which reviews many of the contributions made by the community of educators and specialists who gave their time and expertise to the creation of this resource.


Matt DeCarlo, PhD, MSW is an Assistant Professor of Social Work. He is the co-founder of Open Social Work (formerly Open Social Work Education), a collaborative project focusing on open education, open science, and open access in social work and higher education. His first open textbook, Scientific Inquiry in Social Work, was the first developed for social work education, and is now in use in over 40 campuses across the United States. He is a former OER Research Fellow with the OpenEd Group and an Open Textbook Network campus leader and trainer. Prior to his work in OER, Dr. DeCarlo received his PhD from Virginia Commonwealth University and has published on participant-directed social welfare programs. He lives in Bryn Mawr with his wife and son.

Cory Cummings, Ph.D., LCSW is an assistant professor in the School of Social Work at Monmouth University. He has practice experience in community mental health, including clinical practice and administration. In addition, Dr. Cummings has volunteered at safety net mental health services agencies and provided support services for individuals and families affected by HIV. In his current position, Dr. Cummings teaches in the BSW program and MSW programs; specifically in the Clinical Practice with Children and Families concentration. Courses that he teaches include research, social work practice, and clinical field seminar. His scholarship focuses on promoting health equity for individuals experiencing symptoms of severe mental illness and improving opportunities to increase quality of life.  Dr. Cummings received his PhD from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Kate Agnelli, MSW, is an adjunct professor at VCU’s School of Social Work, teaching masters-level classes on research methods, public policy, and social justice. She also works as a senior legislative analyst with the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC), a policy research organization reporting to the Virginia General Assembly. Before working for JLARC, Ms. Agnelli worked for several years in government and nonprofit research and program evaluation. In addition, she has several publications in peer-reviewed journals, has presented at national social work conferences, and has served as a reviewer for Social Work Education. She received her MSW from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Our generous funder

This project was financially and practically supported by the Virtual Library of Virginia (VIVA) as part of their Course Redesign Grant Program. The financial support ($23,725) offered by VIVA was essential to dedicating the time needed to complete this project. Moreover, the community of open education leaders that VIVA has sustained was an indispensable source of knowledge and guidance throughout this project. We would also like to acknowledge Dr. Stephanie Westcott, our grant officer, who helped us adapt this project to meet many challenges over the 1.5 years of its duration. Any Virginia faculty who would like a copy of our grant application materials or project management resources, please reach out to


Dalia Khoury, PhD, is a Behavioral Health Researcher at a nonprofit contract research organization (RTI International) as well as an adjunct professor at Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work. She has experience teaching both online and in-person research and social justice courses at the BSW and MSW level. Dr. Khoury currently conducts rigorous research in the area of opioid addiction, with a focus on the use of existing data to combat and forecast the progression of the opioid epidemic and to understand its impact on underrepresented groups, including individuals with co-occurring disorders. Prior to her current position, Dr. Khoury completed a two-year NIH NRSA post-doctoral fellowship at Duke University Medical Center and has her PhD in Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Project management and administration

This project would not have been possible without the tireless work of Cindy Whitehead and Jim Quillen in the Radford University School of Social Work. Additionally, the institutional and administrative support of Dr. Diane Hodge and Dr. Ken Cox was invaluable in piloting, studying, and developing this resource in the Waldron College of Health and Human Services. Matt DeCarlo also served as project manager.

Key contributors

Instructional design and technology lead

Tom Woodward, the Associate Director of Innovation at VCU, is interested in the creative and out-of-the box ways technology enables one to think. His educational philosophy is influenced by Maria Montessori, Seymour Papert, and Bret Victor. Mr. Woodward has spent the last 18 years focused on blending constructivism and technology in K12 and higher education. His interests include multimedia creation, data visualization, history, APIs, poetry, WordPress, and photography. He continues to create novel and interesting approaches to learning that incorporate the salient characteristics of reality, while also taking advantage of technology to expand and extend learning opportunities digitally.

Copyright and open licensing coordinators

Hillary Miller is a SPARC Open Education Leadership Fellow at VCU. Ms. Miller has taken a leadership role at VCU Libraries, leading open education initiatives, including serving as an Open Textbook Network statewide system leader. In addition, Ms. Miller has worked to establish the Affordable Course Content Awards program for faculty who choose to write or adopt open educational resources.

Jessica Kirschner supports the VCU community in its efforts to decrease student costs and increase student success through the use of open and affordable educational materials. Working with partners from across the VCU community, she advocates, educates, and assists in the creation of new resources and is also responsible for the location, adoption and adaptation of existing course materials (e.g. library materials, open educational resources). Ms. Kirschner works with liaison and collections librarians on discipline-specific outreach and partners with other university units to provide support for faculty. In partnership with the ALT Lab, Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence, Academic Technologies, and Barnes & Noble at VCU, she also administers the affordable course content awards program.

Content creators

Mr. Gyourko created our exercise workbook and reviewed the resource as student advisor from beginning to end.  

John Gyourko, MSW is a PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania School of Social Policy and Practice and graduate of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work. He was named the MSW student of the year by the National Association of Social Workers – Virginia chapter in Spring 2020. He was also recognized with the Elaine Rothenberg Social Work Award and the Service & Leadership Award at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Dr. Day created the quizzes for each chapter. They are available in the instructor course package. Email for access to instructor resources.

Monica Roth Day, MSW, LGSW, Ed.D., is an associate professor at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, Minnesota. Over the past 25 years in the field of social work, she has worked as an organizer with Minnesota Public Interest Research Group, a volunteer coordinator/community educator at the Program to Aid Victims of Sexual Assault, and is assistant director at the Center for American Indian and Minority Health. Dr. Day continues to volunteer at community organizations in the Twin Cities area. Monica has taught in social work education for over 20 years. Currently, she teaches courses in social work practice, research, and comparative racial analysis.

Dr. Lee contributed to the conceptualization of the textbook, the early drafts of some chapters as well as the scaffolded homework assignments in the instructor course package. Email for access to instructor resources.

Nicole “Nicki” Lee, Ph.D. is an associate professor in the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work. An experienced social work educator, Dr. Lee has spent over a decade teaching in the M.S.W. and B.S.W. programs at Virginia Commonwealth University. Her scholarly interests include social work teaching pedagogy, program evaluation, intimate partner violence in communities of color, and the impact of health on the psychosocial functioning of individuals and communities.


Advisors provided formative feedback including project scoping, outlining, and drafting. Advisors also, to the greatest extent possible, provided summative feedback as part of the peer review process outlined in the Peer Review Statement in the back matter of this textbook. 

Matthias Naleppa, Ph.D., MSW is an associate professor at the School of Social Work at Radford University and a recent Hartford Geriatric Social Work Faculty Scholar. Previously, he held positions as professor of social work at the State University of Baden-Wuerttemberg in Stuttgart, Germany; the University of Applied Sciences in Bern, Switzerland; and Virginia Commonwealth University. His research focuses on geriatric social work, short-term treatment, and international social work. Dr. Naleppa regularly conducts workshops on task-centered practice and geriatric social work in the United States, Europe, and Asia. He holds an MSW from the Catholic School of Social Work in Munich and a PhD from the University at Albany.

Sarah Kye Price, PhD, MSW, MS, Mdiv, is a Professor and Associate Dean for Faculty Development in the School of Social Work at Virginia Commonwealth University. Her research focuses on bereavement and loss related to pregnancy and childbearing. Her research and publications are centered on mental health promotion for women from low-income communities who are disproportionately affected by fetal and infant mortality. Dr. Price’s community-engaged research has been backed by the VCU Center for Clinical and Translational Research’s KL2 Scholar program, which is a part of the National Institutes of Health’s federal Clinical and Translational Science Awards infrastructure. She has also enjoyed the support of the Health Resources and Services Administration, the Administration on Children and Families, the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, and the Missouri Foundation for Health.

Patrick Dattalo, Ph.D. is a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Social Work. Dr. Dattalo began his university-level teaching career in 1982, and has taught extensively at the undergraduate, masters, and doctoral level across multiple disciplines, including social work, criminal justice, and public administration.  He has taught macro practice, organizational and community theory, and research methods. Dr. Dattalo has published articles and books on research methods and statistical analysis. He is a reviewer for several journals and an editorial board member for the Journal of Social Service Research and Administration in Social Work. Currently, he teaches a doctoral course on multivariate analysis, as well as undergraduate courses in research methods and statistics. His educational background includes a B.S. in experimental psychology, a master’s in social work, and a Ph.D. in public administration, with a specialization in quantitative analysis.

Emily Massengill, MSW

Courtney Crenshaw, MSW

We would also like to thank Anita Walz, Assistant Director of Open Education and Scholarly Communication Librarian, as well as Robert Browder and Peter Potter at VT Publishing, who provided essential guidance in the design and publication of this resource as well as donating ISBN and DOI numbers to our project.

Peer reviewers

The team was incredibly grateful and humbled by the number of faculty who volunteered their time and expertise to reviewing chapters for this textbook. The Peer Review Statement in the back matter of the textbook provides a more complete description of team members’ contributions to each chapter and how authors integrated that feedback into the textbook. Peer reviewers were recruited through the BPD listserv. Recruitment is detailed in this teaching note

Debra Olson-Morrison, PhD, LCSW, RPT, Assistant Professor of Social Work, Park University. (Chapter 1)

Marcia Runnberg-Valadez, EdD, MSW, LICSW, Assistant Professor, College of St. Scholastica. (Chapters 1 & 2)

Andrea Reynolds, LCSW, Director of field education and Assistant Professor, Lincoln University. (Chapters 2, 9, & 16)

Michel Coconis, PhD, Assistant Professor, Union Institute and University. (Chapters 2, 3, 4 & 5)

Melody Loya, PhD, MSSW, LMSW-IPR, Department Head and Associate Professor of Social Work, Tarleton State University. (Chapters 3, 4, & 5)

Cipactli Ovalle, BSW, Graduate assistant, University of Houston. (Chapter 5)

Ted Alter, PhD, Assistant Professor, Stockton University. (Chapter 8)

Larry Morton II, PhD, Associate Professor, Arkansas State University. (Chapters 8 & 11)

Lorri McMeel, Assistant Professor, Lewis University. (Chapters 9, 14, & 16)

Sherece Shavel, PhD, LMSW, HS-BCP, Assistant Professor, University of Texas at Arlington. (Chapters 17 & 19)

Peggy Rapp, Associate Professor, Misericordia University. (Chapters 13 & 17)

Rachel Kirzner, Assistant Professor, Stockton University. (Chapters 13 & 18)

Kimberly Pendell, Social Work and Social Sciences Librarian, Portland State University. (Chapters 3 & 24)

Mary S. Sheridan, PhD, ACSW Professor Emeritus of Social Work, Hawaii Pacific University. (Chapters 10, 11, 12, & 18)

Mike Massey, PhD, Visiting Assistant Professor, Catholic University of America. (Chapters 7 & 19)

Elspeth Slayter, Professor, Salem State University. (Chapter 23)

Tamara LZ Faux, MSSW, PhD, Professor, Wartburg College. (Chapter 23)

Natalie Moore-Bembry, Ed.D, MSW, LSW, Assistant Director of Student Affairs and Camden Campus Coordinator, Rutgers University. (Chapter 11)

Madeline Pérez De Jesús, Ph.D., M.Phil., M.S.W., Associate Professor of Social Work and Equitable Community Practice, University of Saint Joseph. (Chapter 15)

Carol Hostetter, Ph.D., LCSW BSW, Program Director and Professor, Indiana University-Bloomington. (Chapter 15)

Wanja Ogongi, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Millersville University. (Chapters 20 & 21)

Tuwana Wingfield, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, California State University- Northridge. (Chapter 22)

Student contributors

Student contributors created and shared open resources for their peers to assist with learning and applying research methods. Their work is contained in the Appendix under student-created resources. 

Mx. Cipactli Ovalle is a MSW candidate at the University of Houston, a graduate assistant at the UH Graduate College of Social Work Office of Field Education and Clinical Intern at the Jewish Family Service of Houston. They completed a BSW at the University of Houston-Downtown.


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Graduate research methods in social work Copyright © 2020 by Matthew DeCarlo, Cory Cummings, Kate Agnelli is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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