Clinical Social Work, Science, and Doctoral Education: Schisms or Synergy?

Jeane W. Anastas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent trends in social work have widened the schism between science and clinical social work. Ph.D. programs have become ever more oriented to grant-funded research and to preparing graduates for research-dominated careers. Academics have been developing a definition of a “science of social work” so the profession can claim its scientific base. The evidence-based practice movement and funders’ mandates to use evidence-supported practice techniques have created dilemmas for practitioners, whose views of these developments, positive and negative, are described. Some now argue for “practice-based research,” a model promoting practitioner involvement in research. Finally, rather than moving toward enhanced research and practice synergy in doctoral education, “practice doctorates” in social work are now being developed. Suggestions for enhancing connections between science and clinical social work are offered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)304-312
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Social Work Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 7 2015


  • Clinical social work
  • Doctoral education in social work
  • Practice doctorate (DSW)
  • Practice-based evidence
  • Practitioners’ views of EBP
  • Science of social work

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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