Department of Sociology and Social Work

Research strategy (2019-2022) for SCOPAS - Shaping concepts, practice and advances in social work

Research strategy (2019-2022) for SCOPAS - Shaping concepts, practice and advances in social work, Department of Sociology and Social Work, Aalborg University


SCOPAS is a research environment that represents a unique approach to social work research in Denmark and internationally. The group was formed in 2018 and combines profound empirical and practice-oriented research with a focus on contributing to knowledge including the development of concepts, models and theories that will strengthen social work in society as a profession and practice. Through research, teaching and dialogue, the group actively contributes to a critical and constructive approach focused on alternatives in social work:

  • Make visible the unnoticed forms of problems, knowledge and practices in social work that are not addressed, measured and valued at other levels of society
  • Make visible mechanisms behind new 'hybrid' Nordic welfare ideas and discourses; how they affect social work, approaches to social problems as well as vulnerable people with special needs.  
  • Challenge the notion of what social work is and can become through the exploration of social work in historical/contemporary, local/global and international contexts
  • Social work teaching that brings all of the above into play

Dynamic, creative and innovative collaboration

The group has a high level of activity and works dynamically with both individuals and in collective collaborations centred on activities, publications and projects. The group challenges existing understandings of social work with the aim of promoting creativity in the development of research and new knowledge. A high level of activity and creativity requires a collaborative environment characterized by professional support: respect, encouragement, commitment, knowledge sharing and critical reflection to support the work of each member and the group. The aim is to create a trusting and open environment in which members can benefit from each other.

The group arranges monthly research meetings as well as 1-2 annual seminars that include social activities. The meetings offer a space for a wide range of presentations from early ideas and drafts to more elaborated research such as project descriptions, research findings, articles and reports. The group values an informal and social atmosphere combined with professional engagement and thorough processes of peer reviewing each other's work. Between meetings, the group’s members carry out research activities individually and collectively centred on publications and research projects.

Strategic themes and initiatives

SCOPAS wishes to develop theoretical perspectives, concepts, models and practices that can strengthen knowledge, reflection and development of social work. The focus is on the following thematic initiatives within the group's purpose and focus: 

  • Research on changes in welfare, social problems, the welfare state, social policy, knowledge and values, governance rationales, technologies and social work as a profession and practices linked to new welfare ideas like social investment, innovation, value creation, digitalisation and the impact on knowledge and reflection in social work.
  • Research into practices and concepts in social work linked to the understanding of social problems or the understanding of social work as a profession and practice. The focus is on how concepts and practices make sense and/or can be developed in changing welfare contexts.
  • Building new interdisciplinary and international research collaborations and working with stakeholders in social work practice to enable the group to explore the above areas.

A portfolio of projects

SCOPAS’s ambition is to have an ongoing portfolio of projects that supports the focus of the group and strategic themes and initiatives. SCOPAS supports 'emerging' individual and collective projects for maturation through smaller studies, publications and network creation, as well as larger collective initiatives involving applications for external funding in cooperation with national and international partners.

The group has an active approach to seeking research funding as a group, in collaboration with other research environments and in collaboration with actors in and around social work. In addition, the members of the group use each other to support, qualify and strengthen projects and applications. Since 2018, the group has been responsible for externally funded projects of a total volume of approximately 9 million DKR. This makes it possible to pursue and realize strategic efforts in a coherent and intensive manner.

2019-2022: A special effort to initiate projects and applications within the above thematic initiatives. This does not exclude other projects and applications within the group's purpose.

High-quality research with social value

SCOPAS’s ambition is to publish and disseminate high-quality and valuable research for social work and society. The group publishes in internationally recognized journals and supports co-writing with international researchers, and has an obligation to engage in dissemination of research in and for society too.

SCOPAS supports the individual researcher's ability to achieve a portfolio of publications that reflect this variation.  

2019-2022: A specific effort in relation to experimenting with research dissemination activities and forums. During this period, an annual seminar/thematic day for external partners is hosted. SCOPAS works to make the group's research visible through more in-depth disseminations and stories about our research in the form of SoMe, (web based) posts, chronicles, articles, etc. The purpose is to provide input to and create dialogue with decision-makers and practitioners in and around social work.

Research training, support and talent development at all levels

SCOPAS currently consists of researchers with a PhD and research experience. and assistant professors develop their research supported by more experienced researchers as well as by the group as a whole. and assistant professors participate in collective research projects, external collaborations, external research funding allowing them to develop their research profile and publications. In addition, the more experienced researchers develop their research supported by the group and head of research in order to initiate and manage research projects; apply for funding; develop international collaboration; gain experience with PhD supervision and academic assessments.

2019-2022: A specific effort to establish PhD projects that support the group's purpose, goals and strategic initiatives.

National and international networks and collaboration

SCOPAS wishes to strengthen the group's national and international networks and collaborations. Particularly in terms of interdisciplinary international collaborations that can develop the group's research.

2019–2022: A special effort to establish interdisciplinary and international research collaborations.

Research-based teaching and development of education

SCOPAS’ members are collectively involved in the teaching and development of all social work study programmes at the department. The group actively contributes to research-based teaching, and actively seeks to create synergies between education and research.

2019-2022: A special effort to integrate the group's research, publications and projects into the teaching and development of programmes, courses, electives etc. and their academic elements.

Contact SCOPAS

Contact SCOPAS: Head of research Maria Appel Nissen

Head of research Maria Appel Nissen

Kroghstraede 7, room 1
9220 Aalborg East

Phone: +45 9940 7292, +45 2749 5677

Department of Sociology and Social Work • Fibigerstraede 13 • 9220  Aalborg East  • Phone: +45 9940 2825 • Email:
Vat no.: 5798000420649 • P numbers; Aalborg: 1012066143, Copenhagen: 1018019139