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Howard named editor-in-chief of social work research journal

Matthew Howard, Ph.D., of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Social Work, has been appointed editor-in-chief of Social Work Research, the flagship journal of the National Association of Social Workers.

Howard, the School’s Frank A. Daniels Distinguished Professor for Human Services Policy Information, has extensively researched youth substance abuse, particularly involving inhalants. He will oversee editorial content for the journal, which “publishes exemplary research to advance the development of knowledge and inform social work practice.”

UNC School of Social Work Dean Jack Richman praised Howard’s editorial appointment. “Dr. Howard is a major figure in social work education,” Richman said. “The generation of new knowledge will flourish under his leadership and guidance.”

Social Work Research includes analytic reviews of research and theoretical articles on social work research as well as evaluation and diverse research studies that address social work issues and problems. The journal publishes four times a year.

Expected to serve as editor through 2013, Howard said his first priorities are to hire a statistical editor and to appoint between 20 to 25 consulting editors, who will be responsible for reviewing the approximately 100 manuscripts submitted annually to the journal. About 60 are generally accepted for publication.

Howard also looks forward to working with the association’s publications board to fully automate manuscript submission and processing procedures via an online portal. Currently, submissions are mailed, which can delay publication.

He is most enthusiastic about pursuing a goal to have Social Work Research indexed on Medline, a comprehensive bibliographic database covering the fields of medicine, nursing, dentistry, veterinary medicine, the health care system and the preclinical sciences. The online database contains more than 16 million records that are compiled by the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Although the Medline database does not currently index Social Work Research, Howard noted that a lot of social work study, including much of his own work, involves health-related issues that have widespread effects. Having the journal indexed would make social work research more widely accessible and raise the “impact factor” of that research, he said.

“My goal is to make social work research more influential in health care,” Howard said.