Abstract: Schneider, Diana (2019, 7.5.): The principle of integrated research on the example of DSS in context social work, 18th Annual STS Conference Graz 2019, Track Digitalization of Society – S4: Applying artificial intelligence on vulnerable target groups: chances and challenges, Graz. [Tandem 5]

Today the usage of algorithms and Big Data Analytics in practice replaces processes of human decision making more and more. In the context of welfare institutions, especially in the area of social work, first findings and results of the implementations of decision support systems (DSS) were published in the United States, Canada, Israel, and Australia [1]. Currently, in Europe, there is marginal exploration of usage of DSS in this context yet. With the AMS-model from Austria [2] which will be used to determine the need for support measures of unemployed people to obtain a job, however, it becomes clear that research has already arrived here and a discussion about the opportunities and challenges of these technologies is indispensable. Another example of the application of DSS in the social sector is MAEWIN project which is part of the of the Digital Society research program funded by the Ministry of Culture and Science of the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia. The project inter alia aims to develop a prototype of a decision support system for the use in Social Work. In both cases, the DSSs aim to reconstruct patterns based on the documentation about a third party. The analysis of patterns becomes particularly problematic if these are used assessing of the need of interventions. The same seems to apply if the person who be assessed cannot participate in the documentation that is used for the assessment. The approach of integrated research can be a tool to identify such challenges at an early stage and to react accordingly. Although the concept of integrated research as a rallying cry has been part of the innovation programme of the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) since 2012, there are still no precise conceptual considerations. The idea of integrated research is the inclusion of ELSI (ethical, legal, and social implications) as part of the development of technology and is intended to prevent the formation of technological fixes.

In the proposed contribution, I will discuss the approach of integrated research using MAEWIN project as an example after outlining main challenges in the usage of DSS in the context of welfare states. On the one hand, a proposal is made on how integrated research could be implemented. On the other hand, it will be illustrating which challenges and questions are nevertheless associated with integrated research. [This concerns for instance transparency issues.]


[1] Liedgren, P.; Elvhage, G.; Ehrenberg, A. and C. Kullberg (2016): The Use of Decision Support Systems in Social Work. A Scoping Study Literature Review, Journal of Evidence-Informed Social Work 13, p. 1-20, DOI: 10.1080/15433714.2014.914992

[2] Holl, J.; Kernbeiß, G. and M. Wagner-Pinter (2018): Das AMS-Arbeitsmarktchancen-Modell. Dokumentation zur Methode, Konzeptunterlage vom Oktober 2018, SynthesisForschung,  www.forschungsnetzwerk.at/downloadpub/arbeitsmarktchancen_methode_%20dokumentation.pdf, last visited 17/12/2018.