Nature of science in social work

There is nothing in this general definition of the profession that demands any necessary connection to a philosophy of science. Philosophy of science is a study of the abstract tools and methods in contrast with empirical ones with regard to understanding the nature of the science, with the emphasis here on the social sciences.

Nature of science in social work

I NQUIRY Fundamentally, the various scientific disciplines are alike in their reliance on evidence, the use of hypothesis and theories, the kinds of logic used, and much more.

Nevertheless, scientists differ greatly from one another in what phenomena they investigate and in how they go about their work; in the reliance they place on historical data or on experimental findings and on qualitative or quantitative methods; in their recourse to fundamental principles; and in how much they draw on the findings of other sciences.

Still, the exchange of techniques, information, and concepts goes on all the time among scientists, and there are common understandings among them about what constitutes an investigation that is scientifically valid.

Scientific inquiry is not easily described apart from the context of particular investigations. There simply is no fixed set of steps that scientists always follow, no one path that leads them unerringly to scientific knowledge.

There are, however, certain features of science that give it a distinctive character as a mode of inquiry. Although those features are especially characteristic of the work of professional scientists, everyone can exercise them in thinking scientifically about many matters of interest in everyday life.

Science Demands Evidence Sooner or later, the validity of scientific claims is settled by referring to observations of phenomena.

Nature of science in social work

Hence, scientists concentrate on getting accurate data. Such evidence is obtained by observations and measurements taken in situations that range from natural settings such as a forest to completely contrived ones such as the laboratory.

To make their observations, scientists use their own senses, instruments such as microscopes that enhance those senses, and instruments that tap characteristics quite different from what humans can sense such as magnetic fields.

In some circumstances, scientists can control conditions deliberately and precisely to obtain their evidence. They may, for example, control the temperature, change the concentration of chemicals, or choose which organisms mate with which others.

By varying just one condition at a time, they can hope to identify its exclusive effects on what happens, uncomplicated by changes in other conditions. Often, however, control of conditions may be impractical as in studying starsor unethical as in studying peopleor likely to distort the natural phenomena as in studying wild animals in captivity.

In such cases, observations have to be made over a sufficiently wide range of naturally occurring conditions to infer what the influence of various factors might be.

Because of this reliance on evidence, great value is placed on the development of better instruments and techniques of observation, and the findings of any one investigator or group are usually checked by others. But they tend to agree about the principles of logical reasoning that connect evidence and assumptions with conclusions.

Scientists do not work only with data and well-developed theories. Often, they have only tentative hypotheses about the way things may be.

Such hypotheses are widely used in science for choosing what data to pay attention to and what additional data to seek, and for guiding the interpretation of data.

In fact, the process of formulating and testing hypotheses is one of the core activities of scientists. To be useful, a hypothesis should suggest what evidence would support it and what evidence would refute it. A hypothesis that cannot in principle be put to the test of evidence may be interesting, but it is not likely to be scientifically useful.

The use of logic and the close examination of evidence are necessary but not usually sufficient for the advancement of science.

Scientific concepts do not emerge automatically from data or from any amount of analysis alone. Inventing hypotheses or theories to imagine how the world works and then figuring out how they can be put to the test of reality is as creative as writing poetry, composing music, or designing skyscrapers.

Nature of science in social work

Sometimes discoveries in science are made unexpectedly, even by accident. But knowledge and creative insight are usually required to recognize the meaning of the unexpected. Aspects of data that have been ignored by one scientist may lead to new discoveries by another.The Nature of Social Science Research MAGGIE WALTER ASKING SOCIAL QUESTIONS, SEEKING SOCIAL ANSWERS Despite enormous social and political changes in .

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A "general statement" "intended to develop a unified conceptual scheme for theory and research in the social sciences" was published by nine USA social scientists in Theory was to be based on a "theory of action" in which "the point of reference of all terms is the action of an individual actor or collective of actors".

Because of the social nature of science, the dissemination of scientific information is crucial to its progress. Some scientists present their findings and theories in papers that are delivered at meetings or published in scientific journals.

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Looking for a federal job? Learn about the GS occupational group, which includes federal jobs in social science, psychology, welfare, and more! of Social Work key pointS • Social workers continually integrate different sources of knowledge into practice.

• The ‘science’ of social work practice relates to the knowledge base of evidence and theories that you draw on to understand human behaviour theories that seek to understand the nature of people and social problems have.

The Role of Science in Social Work: The Perennial Debate - William J. Reid,