Social Work Science and Identity Formation for Doctoral Scholars Within Intellectual Communities

Abstract

Three themes are central to preparing doctoral students for the professoriate: identity formation, scientific integration,
and intellectual communities. In this article, we argue that these three themes are not separate pillars but interlocking
circles. Our main thesis is that (1) social work must develop into a distinct integrative scientific discipline; (2) this
recognition is core to the identity formation of doctoral scholars and, reflectively, their identity formation is central
to the future development of social work as a scientific discipline; and (3) the sustainability of social work as a scientific
discipline is dependent upon the development of intellectual communities. Developing social work as an integrative discipline
will foster and congeal the identity of our scholars while allowing them to flourish within intellectual communities. Implications
include nurturing a scientific sense of identity through a dialogical approach to doctoral education, creating and supporting
intellectual communities, and making identity formation explicit in mentoring practices.

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