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PhD Student Xu and the SSW's Shdaimah and Gioia Co-author New Paper on Qualitative Research in t


Yanfeng Xu, a PhD student at the SSW, along with Associate Professor Corey Shdaimah and Debbie Gioia, have co-authored a new paper titled "Qualitative Research in the Chinese Social Work Academy: Optimism and Invisible Disadvantages." The article was recently published by The British Journal of Social Work.


There has been much discussion about the contributions of qualitative research to social work knowledge, but the experiences of social work faculty engaged in qualitative research are rarely discussed. Social work is at the early developmental stage in China, which makes the country a useful laboratory to examine this question. The current study aimed to understand experiences of Chinese qualitative social work faculty and how their methodological orientation affected their career trajectories. Nine semi-structured, in-depth interviews were conducted and analysed. Thematic data analysis revealed three major themes: suitability, methodological challenges and structural barriers. Findings indicate that qualitative social work research has an optimistic future in China, but methodological challenges and structural barriers create invisible disadvantages. This study highlights the need for rigorous qualitative research training, including apprenticeship; translation of more qualitative learning materials into Chinese; and support for the purchase, training and use of qualitative software packages. The results also point to the need for institutional review boards or other ethical oversight mechanisms. More importantly, there must be greater consensus regarding what constitutes scientific rigour, which projects should be funded, what are evaluative criteria for publication, and whom to hire and promote.


Xu, Y., Shdaimah, C., Zhao, F., & Gioia, D. (2018). Qualitative Research in the Chinese Social Work Academy: Optimism and Invisible Disadvantages. The British Journal of Social Work, bcy052-bcy052. doi: 10.1093/bjsw/bcy052

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