What are the indicators that transdisciplinarity has been institutionalised? How close is it? What still needs to be done to achieve institutionalisation?
Transdisciplinary teaching and research are becoming more common in universities and a range of research organisations. So how will we know that transdisciplinarity is an integral and accepted part of the research and higher education scene, nationally and internationally?
By Niki Ellis, Anne-Maree Dowd, Tamika Heiden and Gabriele Bammer
What does it take for research to be impactful? How should research impact be assessed? How much responsibility for impact should rest with researchers and how much with government, business and/or community partners?
We present five key insights based on our experience in achieving research impact in Australia:
Planning for impact is essential
Quality relationships trump all other factors
Assessment of research contributions should be tailored to the type of research and based on team, not individual, performance
Researchers alone cannot be responsible for achieving impact
In November the blog had its fifth birthday. It was an occasion to reflect on how far we have come and where we want to head. Here we describe our new i2Insights Ambassadors program to acknowledge those who champion the blog and to highlight ways supporters can help the blog achieve its aims.
We also share the highlights of 2020 and major improvements made to the blog this year. Finally we showcase 13 blog posts published in 2020 that achieved more than 750 views.
If you are looking for short, thought-provoking reading, there are now well over 300 blog posts to choose from. Rummage through the blog scroll or the list of highlighted posts (this was removed on 5/8/21). Or search the index or use the advanced search to find topics that may interest you.
What are some of the key frameworks that can be used for transdisciplinary research? What are their particular strengths? How can you choose one that’s most suitable for your transdisciplinary project?
The nine frameworks described here were highlighted in a series for which I was the commissioning editor. The series was published in the scientific journal GAIA: Ecological Perspectives in Science and Society between mid-2017 and end-2019.
Choosing among them is not a matter of right or wrong, but of each being more or less helpful for a particular problem in a particular context.
When you are pulling together a team to tackle a complex societal or environmental problem, where can you find the expertise to deal with:
Research integration challenges such as: deciding which disciplines and stakeholders to include, setting limits around the problem, dealing with competing problem definitions, managing intractable unknowns, and synthesising different perspectives?
Research implementation challenges such as: identifying likely change agents, taking context into account, developing tools and processes for research to support more effective actions to ameliorate the problem?
How can we affirm, value and capitalise on the unique strengths that each individual brings to interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research? In particular, how can we capture diversity across individuals, as well as the richness and distinctness of each individual’s influence and impact?
In the course of writing ten reflective narratives (nine single-authored and one co-authored), eleven of us stumbled on a technique that we think could have broader utility in assessing influence and impact, especially in research but also in education (Bammer et al., 2019).
What is expertise in research integration and implementation? What is its role in helping tackle complex societal and environmental problems, especially those dimensions that define complexity?
Expertise in research integration and implementation
Addressing complex societal and environmental problems requires specific expertise over and above that contributed by existing disciplines, but there is little formal recognition of what that expertise is or reward for contributing it to a research team’s efforts. In brief, such expertise includes the ability to:
identify relevant disciplinary and stakeholder inputs
effectively integrate them for a more comprehensive understanding of the problem
support more effective actions to ameliorate the problem.
What options are available to researchers for engaging stakeholders in a research project? What responsibilities do researchers have to stakeholders over the course of that project?
Despite increasing inclusion of stakeholders in research, there seems to be little guidance on how to do this effectively. Here I have adapted a framework developed by the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2 2018) for examining how the public are engaged in government decision making. The research-modified IAP2 spectrum, written from a researcher perspective, is shown in the figure below.
For the past four years the blog has worked well, achieving significant growth. In 2020 we’re planning improvements, mainly to make specific resources easier to find and access. In 2019 there were a number of firsts, including surpassing 250 blog posts and 300 authors. Check out the nine blog posts published in 2019 that achieved more than 750 views. And if you are looking for something thought-provoking to read over, what for many, will be a holiday break, see below for a selection of gems.
As a reader, are there aspects of this i2Insights blog that you would like to see changed? Do you have specific suggestions for improvements? Are there things that work well and that you would like to see continue?
We are currently reviewing how to improve the blog and how easily the resources it provides can be found. Your input will help us think about changes to incorporate and how to use our time in producing the blog to maximum effect. We briefly set the context for the blog and then pose a series of questions that outline the changes we are considering. All input is welcome. You can address one or more of the questions below or raise other issues. You can post in the comments section or contact us privately via: https://i2insights.org/contact/.
As the blog moves into its 4th year, how well is it achieving its goals? Is it succeeding in sharing concepts and methods across the multiple groups addressing complex real-world problems – groups including inter- and trans- disciplinarians, systems thinkers, action researchers and implementation scientists, as well as the myriad researchers working on complex environmental, health and other societal problems, who do not necessarily identify with these networks? Is it providing a forum to connect these disparate groups and individuals? Is it helping to build an international research community to improve how complex real-world problems are tackled?
This is part of a series of occasional “synthesis blog posts” drawing together insights across blog posts on related topics.
What is required for effective co-creation, especially between researchers and stakeholders? In particular, what contributes to a productive environment for co-creation? And what considerations are relevant for deciding who to involve?
Twelve blog posts which have addressed these issues are discussed. Bringing those insights together provides a richer picture of how to achieve effective co-creation.
What makes a productive environment for co-creation?
A good starting point is to be working in an environment and organizational culture that support co-creation and to have sufficient financial, personnel and other resources, as pointed out by Kit Macleod and Arnim Wiek.
Dialogue-based processes are often an important part of co-creation and they need to be established as a generative space, focused on synergy, not conflict.