Thoughts about the Scientist-Practitioner model in an organisational context

This week at uni I am learning about the scientist-practitioner model and the challenges of the scientist-practitioner gap. I immediately found it thoroughly interesting and stayed up late making notes on the prescribed academic articles.

The model, and the gap, articulated for me a challenge I have experienced for the duration of my digital workplace career, and given the hefty papers I have just read will continue to experience throughout.

I started my digital workplace career as a portal administrator running a corporate intranet. And in pursuit of knowledge found books and then user groups and then conferences in a variety of related disciplines.

What I came to know over time is that:

  • Models presented at conferences and at books are great explainers and guides
  • Those explainers and guides never work perfectly in practice
  • Case studies are great references for best practice
  • Best practice doesn’t exist and not enough people share war stories

I don’t think I am alone in the frustration of working to apply recommended models and processes within an organisation, only to discover that numerous challenges can affect the ability to implement using a model. Or if you can implement using a recommended model, that the outcomes may still not be what was desired or expected.

This is where experience is incredibly important. The experience of a practitioner and the ability of the practitioner to understand the specific client context to apply, or not apply particular methods.

And these, I now know, are challenges identified in the Scientist-Practitioner gap.

While the Scientist-Practitioner model (Jones & Meher, 2007) and the Scientist-Practitioner Gap (Cautin, 2011) have been defined and described for academic and clinical psychology I saw immediate parallels which I expect will apply as I progress with my desired studies as a practicing organisational psychologist.

The scientist-practitioner model was developed at a time when academic psychology had existed for a time, but clinical practice rose to prominence. The model was designed to ensure that those in research were grounded in reality and those in practice had a grounding in scientific methods.

The gap was apparent fairly early but not defined until later. The gap essentially presenting the conflicting interests and desires of those in academic research vs those who were in clinical practice and treating patients in the real world.

What I am interested in exploring further in my studies is:

  • The application of the model specifically to Organisational Psychology
  • Any challenges of the gap that my present as unique to Organisational Psychology
  • How I can bridge the gap in my current work
  • Authoritative sources of research related to Organisational Psychology

I think I can be more mindful in my current work practices by applying the model.

  • Researcher – use validated methods and share my own findings through case studies and observations
  • Evaluator – track the progress of my work by assessing ongoing and project based successes/failures.
  • Consumer – find research from wider sources and where possible peer-reviewed sources, and apply it.
Scientist-Practitioner and evidence based practice
Sketchnote summary of notes about Scientist-Practitioner and evidence based practice from HPS105 Foundations of Psychological Science. Produced as a personal learning resource for my Psychological Science Studies at Deakin University.


I am a first year student at Deakin University studying for my Bachelor of Psychological Science, majoring in Organisational Studies. This represents an output of my learning process and/or my own thoughts. It is not for the purposes of assessment or examination.


Reading material related to the studies and thoughts in this post.

Study materials from Week 2 of HPS105 Foundations of Psychological Science at Deakin University.

Cautin, R. (2011). Invoking history to teach about the scientist-practitioner gap. History of Psychology, 14, 197-203.

Jones, J., & Mehr, S. (2007). Foundations and assumptions of the Scientist-Practitioner Model. American Behavioral Scientist, 50, 766-771.

Hayes, S., Barlow, D. H., & Nelson-Gray, R. O. (1999). The Scientist Practitioner. In The scientist practitioner: Research and accountability in the age of managed care (pp. 1-28). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon

If you have an interest in this topic or have your own experiences to share please feel free to use the comments below.

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