How can understanding philosophy improve our research? How can an understanding of what frames our research influence our choices? Do researchers’ personal thoughts and beliefs shape research design, outcomes and interpretation?
These questions are all important for social science research. Here we present a philosophical guide for scientists to assist in the production of effective social science (adapted from Moon and Blackman, 2014).
How can service designers improve implementation of their projects and overcome resistance to change?
According to the Service Design Network, “Service design is the activity of planning and organizing people, infrastructure, communication and material components of a service to improve its quality and the interaction between the service provider and its customers. The purpose of service design methodologies is to design according to the needs of customers or participants, so that the service is user-friendly, competitive and relevant.”
Although service designers have hundreds of methods to map the current state of a service, to elicit requirements from stakeholders and to propose new processes for services, they often spend little effort on implementing the ideas they generate.
How do we know when we have good answers to research questions, especially about wicked problems?
Simply and profoundly, we seek answers that make good sense. Every formal method, framework, or theory exists, in the end, to help us gain insight into a mystery. When researching wicked problems, choosing methods, frameworks, and theories should not be guided by tradition or disciplinary standards. Instead, our design choices need to consider more fundamental justifications that cut across disciplinary boundaries. A fundamental criterion for good research is that it makes good sense. By making this criterion our “true North” in wicked problems research, we can more easily find and justify integrating disciplinary (or cultural, or professional) perspectives that apply to a particular problem.
So, how do we make good sense in wicked problems scholarship?
Over a decade ago I became interested in the role of external artifacts in enabling knowledge synthesis across disciplinary perspectives, where external artifacts are any simplified physical representation of real phenomena that enable human manipulation of complex concepts. A simulation model is one example of an external artifact. In general every simplified representation of reality is a model, whether that representation occurs in our heads (mental models), on paper (conceptual models) or in a sophisticated computer-based simulation model. And so I embarked on a research agenda to understand the role of data, models, and other forms of external representations in enabling integration and synthesis across perspectives.
By Workshop Group on Theory at 2015 Basel International Transdisciplinary Conference
Theory makes clear what transdisciplinary researchers value and stand for; we therefore have a responsibility to build and articulate it.
If we think about transdisciplinary research as a space situated between different epistemic cultures and practices, as well as being culturally contextualised, we can expect different theories of transdisciplinary research, as well as different significance and functions of theory, and different ways of working with theories, in transdisciplinary research.
Theory can contribute to the identity and development of transdisciplinary research. Theory or conceptual models can provide practical guidance to the challenging problems transdisciplinary research tackles. These can help guide the transdisciplinary research process.
Theory can make certain research fields visible, giving them a place in the landscape of knowledge.