Hidden Treasures

Posted on June 27, 2011

Magnus Karlsson, Ph.D.
Vice Head, Department of Social Work, Erst Skondal University College, Sweden

Curiosity. After 12 years as a researcher, I think that curiosity is what distinguishes excellent research from good research. Not all curious researchers are doing excellent research, but most often when you see an excellent research study, it has its roots in curiosity. 

That said, I am convinced that not all research can be excellent - or that it even should be. Good, solid everyday research is valuable and needed. Most breakthroughs do not come from nowhere; they are surrounded by earlier research studies and follow-up studies. The world of research is a fine network of knowledge, where new pieces of understanding are tied to old ones. Good research is a prerequisite for excellent research.
When research is discussed at clubhouses, much focus is put on outcomes: How can it be proven that the Clubhouse "methods" are effective? That they lead to good results for members? How can they become evidence based?
In my opinion, good, skilled, carefully conducted research is needed to prove the effectiveness of the Clubhouse model. But there is little curiosity in these questions - you know what you are looking for and you know what results can be expected. I do understand, and fully respect, that this research is needed by Clubhouses in order to convince funders and others about their quality, but there is little new knowledge to find here.
In order to find new knowledge, and to continue developing the Clubhouse model, new research angles are needed. Built on curiosity. Existing "methods" must be analyzed from new perspectives. How can it be explained that Transitional Employment benefits individuals? What is actually meant by peer support? What role do Clubhouses play in the social policy debate - and what role do they want to play?
In my opinion, many parts of the Clubhouse model are excellent practice. I do not consider myself to be doing excellent research, but I am curious as a child over how this practice works. And I am convinced that there are still new, groundbreaking knowledge about psychosocial rehabilitation and recovery hidden in this practice, waiting to be found.

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