Additional information about the index

This page provides information about how the index was constructed. The index is available at the ‘List of terms with definitions‘ page.

In April 2021 the list of terms and definitions (as it then stood) was included on BioPortal, under Integration and Implementation Sciences Vocabulary. BioPortal is “the world’s most comprehensive repository of biomedical ontologies.” We were delighted to be invited to contribute and anticipate that the i2Insights vocabulary will be useful for those undertaking interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, systems and related work on complex biomedical, social and environmental problems.

Each contribution to i2Insights is categorised according to the main topic/s covered and also by the type/s of resource it provides. Additional topics covered are included as tags. The information on this page describes:

Main topics (categories)

These are the key areas relevant to research integration and implementation when addressing complex societal and environmental problems:

  • change
  • communication
  • context
  • decision making
  • diversity
  • education
  • evaluation
  • institutionalisation
  • integration
  • research implementation
  • stakeholder engagement
  • systems
  • teamwork
  • unknowns.

Research dealing with any complex societal or environmental problem has three overlapping dimensions:

  1. developing a more comprehensive understanding of the problem, both what is known and what is not known
  2. generating ideas about addressing the problem, including what may and may not work
  3. supporting improved policy and practice responses to the problem by government, business and civil society.

Such research involves integration of multiple and varied perspectives about the problem and insights into acting on it, all the while not losing sight of unknowns and outliers that do not fit neatly into a synthesized package, especially as these can be the sources of adverse unintended consequences and nasty surprises. It also involves research implementation and the best-possible decision making to underpin policy and practice change.

Research integration and implementation require a systems perspective, incorporating context and seeking out diversity in participants, ideas, mental models, epistemologies, values and more. It requires teamwork by researchers from different disciplines, along with stakeholder engagement, with those affected by the problem and those in a position to do something about it. Communication and dialogue about the research problem, the research process and the findings underpin effective research and action.

Research integration and implementation requires evaluation to improve effectiveness, education to develop expertise in research integration and implementation, and institutionalisation to ensure that the expertise is recognised, widely adopted and rewarded.

Changes to the main topics: In August-September 2021, we added two new categories “stakeholder engagement” and “teamwork” and removed the previous categories “participation” and “stakeholders.” In April 2022, we swapped decision making from a tag to a main topic and decision support from a main topic to a tag.

Topics (tags)

Additional relevant terms that further explain these main topics are used as ‘tags’ on the i2Insights blog posts. For example, ‘scaling up’ is used when an i2Insights contribution, usually on the main topic of change, describes a process (for instance) of moving from a single successful project or pilot study to a community- or population- wide implementation, usually of an innovative evidence-based practice. As another example, modelling is used for i2Insights contributions about building useful representations of reality, which may be informal (mental models) or formal (computational models). Depending on the issue covered, this tag may be used in contributions on the main topics of systems, teamwork, decision making, integration and/or unknowns.

There are many specific approaches, associated with professional associations and networks, for tackling complex real-world problems and these are also provided as tags. They include interdisciplinarity, transdisciplinarity, systems thinking, action research and implementation science. Research or education using a specific approach involves at least some of the main topics listed above (eg teamwork or decision making). Where authors have associated their contributions with a specific approach, the blog posts are tagged with the name of the approach. The name is then followed by either ‘(general relevance)’ when the topic of the contribution is more broadly relevant to research integration and implementation or ‘(specific)’ when the topic does not have broader relevance to research integration and implementation beyond the specific approach.

The list of tags in the index is added to as required when new contributions are published.

Tags for authors, partners, primers and languages

The tags for authors, i2Insights partners, primers and languages are not included in the index.

Each contribution has a separate tag for the name of each author. This tag is used in the list of authors to provide access to all the contributions by that author. 

Where relevant, contributions are also tagged with the name of the i2Insights partner involved in its development.

Where blog posts are part of a primer they are tagged with the name of the primer; currently there are primers on  stakeholder engagement and understanding diversity.

All i2Insights contributions are in English and posting in additional languages is encouraged. Such additional contributions are tagged with the name of the language – currently Arabic, Chinese, French, Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish. Clicking on the tag provides access to all i2Insights contributions in that language. (We also provide easy access to Google Translate in the right-hand menu bar.)

Resource types

These describe what contributions present:

  • cases
  • competencies
  • concepts
  • frameworks
  • methods
  • primer
  • processes
  • state-of-the-blog
  • synthesis blog posts
  • theories
  • toolkits.

Examples are provided as part of the definition for most resource types to help explain how those terms are used.


Clicking on individual “categories” or “tags” in a blog post allows all other i2Insights contributions indexed using the same term to be found. Terms are only used for indexing contributions if they have something substantial to say about that topic. If a contribution simply mentions a topic, it is not indexed using that term. Using the search function will find all contributions that mention a term. British spelling is used in the index, although contributions may use American spelling.

How terms are defined

The definitions provided are not dictionary or general-purpose definitions, but instead focus on the relevance of the terms for research integration and implementation. The definitions are necessarily brief; elaborations of the terms can be found in the blog posts themselves.