Unscientific thinking about scientific practice: Evaluating the scientistpractitioner model

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Advocates of the scientist-practitioner model of social work argue that practitioners should use the model's twin pillars of single-system designs and standardized rapid assessment instruments to evaluate their practices. We evaluate the following central claims of the scientist-practitioner model: that it makes practice more effective, that it is needed to satisfy accountability requirements, that its advantages outweigh its disadvantages, that it provides valid causal knowledge of treatment effectiveness that can be generalized to other cases, that it is not biased toward any particular practice theory, and that its lack of adoption by practitioners is not due to any deficiencies in the model itself. We find that the methods of the scientist-practitioner model are of unproved clinical effectiveness, limited scientific value, questionable practicality, and unknown net benefits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-95
Number of pages13
JournalSocial Work Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1996


  • Practitioner
  • Researcher
  • Singlesystem design

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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