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Verified by Psychology Today

Academics and Practitioners as a Superhero Team

Top Five Reasons for This Type of Teamwork

Key points

  • The scholarly academic and grass roots practitioner are the ulitimate power couple in psychological topics.

Topics in psychology need to be validated from the perspectives of academic and practical expert groups. These two expert groups are passionate about the same core fundamental ideas and have diverse, yet equally impressive, professional experiences. Both groups are part of important professional systems that balance psychology, education, law, medicine, business, engineering, and several other fields.

Given that academic and practical expert groups are equally essential, it only makes sense that they work together as a team. However, how much do these two groups really work collaboratively? How much do they share ideas to bridge the gap between research and practice? It certainly does not always seem like it, which tends to be reflected in their own work.

Academic experts are the scientific brains, devoted to scholarly research and teaching within their niche. The field desperately needs the empirical data as well as the development and education of best practices. Unfortunately, many have not worked in the "real world". For instance, when I was an undergrad, I took an abnormal psychology course during the first semester of my prison internship. The professor delivered content well, but showed us that he did not have the practical experience to balance his research through his inability to answer certain questions posed by students. In addition, he never shared actual examples, which was another indicator that he lacked practical experience with people representing the personality, mood, and anxiety disorders that filled the course.

Practical experts are the field's movers and shakers. They are the ones who work in the trenches applying whatever is needed to help and develop people, programs, businesses, and resources. Many are successful in what they do, but unfamiliar with the scholarly concepts of the academic experts. Their practice is mainly rooted through personal experience and are absent of evaluation evidence. Although they make successful and prominent contributions through application, these experts are not always current with best practices. For instance, there is a large population calling themselves consultants and coaches to "fix", while having neither formal training nor proper credentialing.

Although we could go on about the "us versus them" attitude regarding the academic and practical expert groups, here are the five reasons why they need to collaborate, rather than snub each other.
1. Both groups share the same passion. What better reason to join a network than that?
2. Practical experts identify the true gaps in the field, which can be addressed through the work of the academic experts.
3. Academic experts could conduct more studies in "real world" settings, rather than college students in controlled settings, producing findings with increased validity and generalizability.
4. Both groups could gain doses of exposure and to experience to each other's settings and situations by mirroring their counterparts in their respective expert role for one or two days per year.
5. Both groups could share resources that benefit each other's other productivity.

A collaborative academic and practical expert team is a powerful dynamic duo. Their collective intelligence would take the research and practice of any topic in human behavior to a whole new level by bridging the gap.