A world apart? Bridging the gap between theory and applied social gerontology.

Abstract

This article is based on the premise that there is inadequate attention to the link between theory and applied research in social gerontology. The article contends that applied research studies do not often or effectively employ a theoretical framework and that theory-based articles, including theory-based research, are not often focused on questions related to applied social gerontology. We explore the extent to which theory and applied research could reasonably be expected to overlap, present data from an analysis of 5 years of articles in three leading journals, and posit some possible explanations for the current divide between theory and applied social gerontology research. We argue that the divide weakens research and inhibits the functions that theory can play in helping to organize the accumulation of knowledge, and we offer some suggestions about how the field can address this challenge, including changes to the journal review and submission process to reflect the importance of the link between theory and/or conceptual models and research, and an expansion of professional conference opportunities to link research and practice.

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