Chapter bridges gap between social work researchers and practitioners

Feb 3, 2014

By Rena Malai, News staff

The NASW California Chapter hosted the second annual Translational Research/Translational Practice Roundtable in October to help social work practitioners and researchers gain a better understanding of each other.

About 50 NASW members and social workers came together to participate in group discussions.

Bridging the gap between social work researchers and practitioners is a little like bringing native French and German speakers together in one room and trying to have them talk to each other, said NASW-California Executive Director Janlee Wong. But having practitioners and researchers communicate together and understand each other can benefit the social work profession, he said.

“If you asked a social work practitioner the last time they picked up a research journal and read it —chances are their response rate may be lower than a social work professor,” Wong said. “And professors might be talking to practitioners for a specific research topic, but they won’t have exposure to a broad array.”

Wong said that over the last decade the social work profession has discussed the importance of researchers and practitioners understanding each other better, but the concept of translational research is relatively new.

“If there is a really good interchange of researchers and practitioners, both research and practice benefits,” Wong said. “This is where translational research comes in to bring these two groups together.”

He said it’s also important for the two groups to have a better understanding of each other so information from both sides can flow more cohesively.

“If we want to see benefits for clients and communities, we have to find a better way to cross the bridge between practitioners and researchers,” Wong said. “Both groups have their own language in a sense, and translational research helps to cross that language barrier.”

The first NASW-California translational roundtable took place in September of 2012.

For more information on translational research and to find the date for the next roundtable in California, visit

From the January 2014 NASW News.