Bruce A. THYER : What is the Role of Theory in Research on Social Work Practice ?

Published in JSWE ( Journal of Social Work Education) Vol. 37, No. 1 (Winter 2001)

The social work profession suffers from a dearth of empirically based studies of practice outcomes. One reason for this is the message conveyed in research texts, doctoral program standards, and disciplinary guidelines that research should build and test theory, rather than solve applied problems. Since many legitimate forms of empirical, scientific research do not involve theory testing, social work should consider itself less an academic discipline that advances social and behavioral science knowledge and more an applied profession that finds solutions to psychosocial problems. Research inquiries along these lines may or may not involve direct theory testing or development.

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