List of terms with definitions

The index is provided below. There is also additional information about the index.

We are currently updating the way blog posts are indexed and you can follow progress on the ‘Blog news‘ page.

 


 

Action research (general relevance)

These blog posts address topics that are relevant both to ‘action research’ and other research and education addressing complex societal and environmental problems. Action research is a philosophy and a family of methodologies that pursue change (action) and research outcomes at the same time.

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Action research (specific)

These blog posts address topics that are relevant only to ‘action research’ and not other research and education addressing complex societal and environmental problems. Action research is a philosophy and a family of methodologies that pursue change (action) and research outcomes at the same time.

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Adaptation

Adaptation is both an adjustment to actual or expected change and the adjustments required to achieve change, with some blog posts focusing more on one than the other. The adjustments aim to moderate or avoid harm and to exploit beneficial opportunities and may require on-going flexibility where there is on-going change.

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Advocacy

Activity by an individual or group that aims to influence decisions in a particular way.

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Agent-based modelling

Building computer simulations of the actions and interactions through prescribed rules of individuals and/or collective entities (such as organisations or groups), known as agents.

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Argument-based tools

A range of tools to assist decision making when problems are not well defined or when available information is insufficient for reliable quantitative analysis. The tools are based on conceptual distinctions and logical reasoning.

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Arnstein’s ladder

Sherry Arnstein’s description of 8 levels of public participation in government decision making.

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Biases

Inclinations or prejudices for or against ideas, beliefs, people and groups in ways that are closed-minded and/or unfair. See also cognitive biases.

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Boundary objects

Ideas, artefacts, publications and other ‘objects’ that are used in collaborations to aid common understanding, integration and/or action. They are concrete enough for everyone to recognise and abstract enough to accommodate a range of researcher and/or stakeholder perspectives.

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Boundary setting

Complex problems and other open systems have no natural boundaries. Everything relevant cannot therefore be understood or acted on, so that artificial but necessary limits to what will be dealt with must be established.

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Boundary spanning

Work undertaken by individuals or organisations to establish better communication, understanding and joint action among disciplines and stakeholder groups involved in a research environment.

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Cases

Description: Examples of how particular methods, concepts or other aspects of research integration and implementation were used to address complex societal or environmental problems. Cases can also describe challenges, unintended consequences or lessons learnt in using methods or concepts in particular circumstances. Examples:

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Change

Various aspects of altering society and/or the environment, which may range from minor to transformational and which include, but do not necessarily lead to, improvement. Considerations include modifying policy and/or practice in government, business or civil society.

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Co-construction

An approach to learning where learners work together to build their knowledge. May be used to mean co-creation, co-design, co-innovation or co-production.

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Co-creation

Stakeholders are involved in the research process, ranging from contributing ideas to being full partners in undertaking the research. May be used to mean co-construction, co-design, co-innovation or co-production.

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Co-design

Stakeholders are involved in designing the research and in the implementation of the results to ensure that it meets their needs. May be used to mean co-construction, co-creation, co-innovation or co-production.

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Cognitive biases

Cognitive biases are systematic errors in thinking that adversely affect decisions and judgments. They are usually unconscious and often result from the brain’s attempts to simplify information processing through mental shortcuts (heuristics).

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Co-innovation

Stakeholders are involved in collaborative invention and possibly commercialisation of new products, processes or solutions. May be used to mean co-construction, co-creation, co-design or co-production.

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Collaboration

All aspects of individuals, groups or teams working together, especially to undertake research, including processes, requirements and lessons from experience. This includes team science and team scholarship which are collaborative efforts that address challenges that are scientific (team science) or that include science, the arts and humanities (team scholarship) by bringing together multiple disciplines in an interactive and integrated way.

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Collective intelligence

The shared wisdom and knowledge that grows out of a group’s collective efforts, that is more than an individual can produce and that leads to consensus decisions.

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Colleges of peers

Groups of people with similar expertise in research integration and/or implementation who can effectively assess each other’s research grant applications and publications. This is analogous to the way traditional disciplines operate.

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Communication 

Sharing information, by various means, especially to increase understanding between people or groups.

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Competencies

Description: Knowledge, skills, abilities and attributes required to undertake some or all of research integration and implementation. Please note that this blog as a whole aims to build expertise in research integration and implementation by sharing methods, concepts, frameworks etc, as well as discussion of competencies. Example:

  • A series of three blog posts by the Translational Ecology Group describe the competencies required to be a translational ecologist divided into 1) knowledge, 2) skills and 3) dispositional attributes.

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Complex problems

Can be approached from multiple, sometimes competing, perspectives; are hard to delimit; involve critical unresolved unknowns; and have multiple possible solutions, each of which is only partial and temporary and limited by real-world constraints. Please note that this blog as a whole is about addressing complex problems. Blog posts are only tagged with ‘complex problems’ when they describe complex problems.

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Complex systems

Complex systems are composed of many components which may interact with each other in various ways and which are therefore difficult to model. Specific properties include non-linearity, emergence, adaptation and feedback loops.

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Concepts

Description: Useful ideas for understanding or undertaking various aspects of research integration and implementation. Example:

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Conceptual modelling 

Representing the system of interest in a way that conveys its fundamental details and basic functions for the purposes of understanding and communication.

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Confirmation bias

The tendency to search for, interpret, prefer and recall information in a way that is consistent with or strengthens existing beliefs or hypotheses. This is usually unconscious and is one type of cognitive bias.

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Conflict management

Finding a way to deal with serious disagreement or relationship problems. Differs from productive disagreement in that relationships and dialogue have started to break down.

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Consultation 

Obtaining stakeholder input or feedback on proposed or active research.

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Context 

The circumstances in which aspects of research integration and implementation occur. These can include historical, political, cultural and other circumstances, as well as the structure and culture of the research and/or stakeholder organisations involved.

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Contributory expertise

Expertise required to make a substantive contribution to a field, divided into knowing-that and knowing-how.

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Co-production

Stakeholders are involved in joint processes of undertaking research to develop new or revised public policies and services. May be used to mean co-construction, co-creation, co-innovation or co-design.

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Creativity

Forming something new and valuable, including ideas, theories, inventions, literature and art.

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Credibility

The believability of a person, source or message based on trustworthiness and expertise.

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Cross-cultural research

Investigating issues that involve two or more cultures. Also includes learning from other cultures.

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Debiasing

Accounting for and reducing biases, particularly in judgments and decision-making.

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Decision context

The circumstances under which a decision is made and which influence the decision.

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Decision making

Selecting a course of action among several alternate possibilities.

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Decision support

Use of analytical tools, which may be computerized, to assist individuals and groups in decision making. Decision support includes various kinds of modelling and mapping.

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Deep uncertainty – see Unknown unknowns

The Society for Decision Making under Deep Uncertainty provides the following definition “Deep uncertainty exists when parties to a decision do not know, or cannot agree on, the system model that relates action to consequences, the probability distributions to place over the inputs to these models, which consequences to consider and their relative importance. Deep uncertainty often involves decisions that are made over time in dynamic interaction with the system.”

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Diversity

Individual differences among researchers and stakeholders that affect the way complex problems are understood and acted on. These include differences in mental models, epistemologies, interests and values. Researchers can also differ in the influences and impacts they and their work have.

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Education

The process of facilitating learning about aspects of research integration and implementation. Formal, usually university, settings are the focus of many blog posts, while others address less formal settings and self-education.

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Emergence

New properties or behaviours displayed by an entity that its parts do not have.

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Empowerment

A way of conducting research or some other form of participatory process that gives stakeholders (especially those who are marginalized or otherwise in relatively powerless positions) greater control over the process.

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Endogenous view

Approaches a problem searching for its causes and cures within the system boundary (see System Dynamics glossary).

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Evaluation

Examination of impacts of aspects of research integration and implementation, examining original objectives, what was accomplished and how it was accomplished.

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Experience-based co-design

An approach to improving health care and services that engages patients and/or other service users plus relevant staff.

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Facilitation

Planning, guiding and managing a group process and environment, by a facilitator. Aims usually include achieving: full participation, mutual understanding, shared purpose and responsibility, and high-quality decisions. There may also be other aims depending on the purpose of the group process.

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Feedback loops

A feedback loop is a process in which an output of a system is circled back and used as one or more inputs, through direct or indirect causal links. Feedback loops can be reinforcing (positive) or balancing (negative).

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Feedback provision

Giving information about reactions to, for example, a product, actions, processes, or performance of a task, to be used as a basis for improvement by the recipient.

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Fragmentation

Existing and functioning in separate parts, usually referring to the research ‘community’ with expertise in research integration and implementation.

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Frameworks (includes checklists)

Description: Structured ideas, information or principles that provide a systematic way of undertaking or evaluating various aspects of research integration or implementation. Example:

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Funding

The provision of money, usually by agencies associated with government, philanthropy, or business, to support research on complex problems that involves integration and implementation.

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Honest broker

Researcher (usually) who provides decision makers, including policy makers, with the full range of research findings and interpretations and does so in an impartial way that does not favour any particular decision or outcome.

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IAP2 spectrum

The Public Participation Spectrum of the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2). It defines the public’s role in any community engagement program.

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Ignorance – see Unknowns
Immunity-to-change method

Specific method to help individuals uncover issues that are inhibiting change and identify opportunities for improvement.

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Implementation science

The study of how to facilitate uptake, effective application and sustainability of research-based practices and policies. Mainly used in health, education and human services, but use of the term is spreading beyond these fields.

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Innovation

Implementing something new, including a new idea, method, technology or product. Blog posts tagged with innovation usually deal with it in relation to change and/or unknowns.

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Institutionalisation

Embedding research integration and implementation into the academic mainstream, eg by establishing departments of research integration and implementation, centres of interdisciplinarity, relevant journals and professional associations, funding streams, promotion criteria etc.

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Integrated modelling

Building frameworks with features of society, including economy, and biosphere. Also known as integrated assessment modelling.

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Integration

Has three dimensions: 1) bringing together people, ideas, values etc that were previously separate, 2) creating a coherent and comprehensive whole from these previously separate parts and 3) staying alert to unknowns and outliers that cannot be synthesised into the new coherent whole.

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Integration and implementation sciences (i2S)

A scholarly and political endeavour, which can also be thought of as a new discipline. As a scholarly endeavour i2S aims to provide a resources repository that draws on, and contributes to, research tackling complex societal and environmental problems. Such research may be conducted by researchers who have organised into specific approaches (eg transdisciplinarity, action research, systems thinking, implementation science), as well as those who do not identify with these groups. This i2Insights blog and the resources repository on the i2S website are key in this activity. As a political endeavour, i2S aims to support recognition of common cause and collective action across researchers tackling complex societal and environmental problems to help institutionalise the competencies, concepts, frameworks, methods, processes and theories employed in such research. Please note that this blog as a whole aims to build resources for integration and implementation sciences (i2S).

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Interactional expertise

The ability to understand disciplines, professional practice and community experience without being trained in those disciplines or professions or having lived in those communities.

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Interdisciplinarity (general relevance)

Interdisciplinarity is a mode of research and problem solving by teams or individuals that integrates information, methods, tools, concepts, perspectives and/or theories from two or more disciplines. Adding (general relevance) means these blog posts address topics that are more broadly relevant to research integration and implementation, not just to interdisciplinarity.

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Interdisciplinarity (specific) 

Interdisciplinarity is a mode of research and problem solving by teams or individuals that integrates information, methods, tools, concepts, perspectives and/or theories from two or more disciplines. Adding (specific) means these blog posts address topics that are relevant only to interdisciplinarity and not to research integration and implementation more broadly.

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Journals

Academic or scholarly periodicals where concepts, methods, frameworks, processes etc for research integration and implementation are published, often along with cases illustrating their use.

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Leadership

Being in charge of, guiding, encouraging, organising and/or directing other individuals, teams or organisations, especially in achieving research integration and implementation. Blog posts cover leadership competencies, leadership impacts and strengthening leadership.

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Legitimacy

What is accepted as proper in conducting research on complex problems, including knowledge, concerns, processes and for researchers and stakeholders. For stakeholders this includes whether representatives of stakeholder groups are nominated in an acceptable way.

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Leverage points

Places in systems where a small shift in one element can change the behaviour of the whole system or significant parts of the system.

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Meeting protocols

Explicit expectations and ground rules for meetings, aiming to make them run better. Meetings involve two or more people, occur in many environments and serve multiple purposes, often involving sharing information and/or joint decision making.

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Methods

Description: Established ways of tackling specific aspects of research integration or implementation. Example:

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Mixed methods research

Combining quantitative and qualitative data, methods and/or paradigms in a single study or series of studies on the same problem.

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Modelling 

Building useful representations of reality, particularly of key features and relationships (and even though models may be complex they are simpler than reality). Models can be informal (mental models) or formal (computational models). Key roles of modelling are to provide a) representations and understanding of systems, including complex systems, b) tools for understanding and managing unknowns, c) tools for decision support, d) participatory processes that expose diversity (eg differences in mental models) and e) tools for integration (eg of different knowledge and perspectives).

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Mutual learning - see social learning
Non-linearities 

Relationships where changes in inputs do not lead to proportional changes in outcomes. Outcomes may be chaotic, unpredictable, or counterintuitive.

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Participation

A general term for a range of interactions both among researchers with different expertise and between researchers and stakeholders. Participation includes: co-creation, collaboration, co-production, mutual learning and productive disagreement.

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Participatory modelling 

Engaging the knowledge of stakeholders, including tacit knowledge, in building models.

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Path dependence

How a decision is limited by past decisions, rather than simply by current conditions.

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Patterns 

Patterns are regularities, where the elements repeat in predictable ways. Examples are standard ways of approaching a problem, standard sub-processes in modelling, standard layouts for organising research publications (eg introduction, methods, results, discussion). Patterns can be explicit or tacit.

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Physical environment

The natural and/or human-made surroundings in which research and education occur, including landscapes, structures such open offices, spaces that facilitate interaction, proximity to other buildings, lighting, and air circulation.

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Power

Possession of control, authority or influence over others and how it impacts the conduct and communication of research, as well as research implementation and change.

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Power asymmetry

Differential ability to exert control, authority or influence over others, especially in deciding what research will be conducted and how.

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Problem framing

Problems are defined differently by different disciplinary experts and stakeholders. Addressing any problem requires taking these different understandings of the problem into account in developing an agreed (or at least acceptable) statement of the problem, which will then determine how it is tackled. Coming to a shared problem framing will not always be possible, especially for complex problems.

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Processes

Description: Series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve particular ends. Processes are less well established than methods. Example:

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Productive disagreement

Turning discomfort, tension, arguments or conflict into dialogue that broadens perspectives and aids learning and creativity.

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Reflexivity

The process of reflecting on how the research or specific aspects of the research (eg dialogue process, data collection, interpretation) are conducted, especially the influence of the researchers themselves (such as their knowledge, biases, perceptions, motivations etc).

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Relationships

Close long-term professional connections among people and/or groups that involve building trust and respect and free exchange of ideas. They are a prelude to and underpin effectively working together.

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Research impact

Change that can be attributed to research. This includes making a difference in policy or practice, or in skills, attitudes, relationships or thinking. Research implementation is the process, research impact is the outcome, although impact may not be able to be unequivocally linked to specific implementation activities.

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Research implementation

A general term for various ways of using research to support policy and/or practice change in government, business and/or civil society. Research implementation includes: implementation science, knowledge brokering and knowledge translation. Research implementation is a process, change (research impact) is the desired outcome, although it may not be achieved.

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Research-modified IAP2 spectrum

A modified version of the Public Participation Spectrum of the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2), which lays out different roles for stakeholders in research.

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Resilience 

Generally, resilience is the ability to bounce-back after adversity. For social-ecological systems it is the capacity to absorb or withstand perturbations and other stressors while maintaining their essential structure and functions. Resilience describes the degree to which a system is capable of self-organization, learning and adaptation.

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Rules

Accepted principles or instructions about way things are or should be done, including norms, practices, taboos, regulations, legislation, treaties and ordinances.

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Scale

The unit of analysis, usually geographical region for spatial scale, time period for temporal scale and institutional level for organisational scale.

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Scaling up

Moving from a single successful project or pilot study to a community- or population- wide implementation, usually of an innovative evidence-based practice.

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Science of team science

A field focused on understanding, managing and evaluating circumstances that affect the effectiveness of collaboration (team science and team scholarship are included under collaboration).

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Sense-making

An on-going process of refinement of plausible understandings and effective actions in situations of high complexity and uncertainty.

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Serendipity 

The development of insights or research ideas by chance in a beneficial way.

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Slow research

Resisting the pressures of modern academia to make time for, for example: long-term, high-quality stakeholder engagement; exploring ideas with colleagues; maintaining diverse networks; and deep reflection.

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Social learning

The process of gaining insight through iterative reflection that occurs when two or more people share ideas, experiences and other forms of knowledge and perception. May also be referred to as mutual learning.

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Stakeholders 

Those affected by the problem under investigation and those in a position to do something about the problem. Stakeholders include community members, workers, policy makers, professionals, and business leaders.

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State-of-the-blog

Description: Reviews of progress on the i2Insights blog (generally annual). Occasionally some other blog-related topic.

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Storytelling

A social and cultural activity for sharing and interpreting knowledge and experiences, and for education.

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Surprises 

Result from unexpected events and are particularly relevant to uncovering unknown unknowns. Are brief mental and physiological states than can be neutral, positive or negative.

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Synthesis blog posts

Description: Review of common themes among two or more blog posts.

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Synthesis centres

Foster, but do no conduct, collaborative research on complex problems by bringing together interdisciplinary groups for extended periods in collegial settings. Often provide expertise in information technology aimed at assisting groups to use existing datasets, as well as providing expert facilitation.

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System dynamics approach 

Focuses on circular, interlocking and sometimes time delayed relationships, with feedback as the central concept. Involves defining problems dynamically and includes mapping (causal loop diagrams) and modelling stages.

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Systems 

Examination of interrelationships and interconnections, and the resulting challenges of setting boundaries (around the problem, stakeholders involved etc), managing multiple perspectives and seeing problems as a whole.

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Tacit knowledge 

Tacit knowledge or unknown knowns is knowledge that individuals, groups and organisations are largely unaware that they have.

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Team scholarship - see Collaboration
Team science - see Collaboration
Terminology

These blog posts 1) explain particular terms in research integration and implementation, 2) discuss the meaning of particular terms or 3) describe the challenges of developing a common language when research involves different disciplines and stakeholders.

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Theories

Description: Generalised explanations of how aspects of research integration and implementation work. They guide the development of further understanding. Theories are more firmly grounded in philosophy, other humanities, social sciences or sciences than frameworks. Example:

  • Deana Pennington’s blog post Knowledge synthesis and external representations builds on three theories addressing the role of externalizations in enabling people to grapple with understanding complex concepts that may not be familiar to them.

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Theory U

A change management method to improve unproductive patterns of behaviour.

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Time commitment

Requiring additional time or sequestered time (compared with traditional research) in order to successfully complete various elements of research integration and implementation, such as stakeholder participation or intensive interaction among researchers.

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Tipping points

Thresholds that, when exceeded, lead to large irreversible changes in systems.

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Toolkits

Description: Collections of resources for undertaking various aspects of research integration and implementation. They are often, but not always, collections of methods and processes. Example:

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Transformational change

Irreversible change to a radically different future state requiring new mindsets, behaviours and ways of being.

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Transdisciplinarity (general relevance)

The term transdisciplinarity is used in multiple ways; in these blog posts it is mostly used for building new integrative frameworks and research strategies that transcend disciplinary boundaries and/or involving stakeholders in research and research implementation. Adding (general relevance) means these blog posts address topics that are more broadly relevant to research integration and implementation, not just to transdisciplinarity.

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Transdisciplinarity (specific)

The term ‘transdisciplinarity’ is used in multiple ways; in these blog posts it is mostly used for building new integrative frameworks and research strategies that transcend disciplinary boundaries and/or involving stakeholders in research and research implementation. Adding (specific) means these blog posts address topics that are relevant only to transdisciplinarity and not to research integration and implementation more broadly.

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Translational ecology

Translational ecology is a boundary-spanning environmental science that leads to actionable research focused on maintaining or enhancing the resilience of social-environmental systems. Most considerations are more broadly relevant to research integration and implementation.

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Trust

To have confidence in attributes such as the integrity, ability and reliability of someone (eg other researchers) or something (eg a model).

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Tuākana-Tēina model

Adapted from Māori culture to acknowledge that different people are the experts in different contexts. Tuākana is the senior or leader role and tēina is the junior or novice role. Can be usefully applied in cross-cultural research, where those from one culture will be senior in some aspects of the research and junior in other aspects.

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Unknowns 

Aspects of complex problems about which knowledge is missing or incomplete. Unknowns include: known unknowns, unknown knowns (tacit knowledge) , unknown unknowns (deep uncertainty), uncertainty, risk and ignorance.

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Unknown knowns – see Tacit knowledge
Unknown unknowns

What we do not know we do not know. Can occur at individual though to societal levels. Result either from false convictions or unknowns that one is not aware of (see Smithson blog post). Discovering an unknown unknown generally involves surprise. May be used to mean deep uncertainty.

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Values

Ethical principles that determine how people decide what is right and wrong and how they select and evaluate actions and events. Some blog posts also include considerations that are broader than ethics, such as regard, importance, worth and usefulness.

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Vrk heuristic

A way of examining decision making or co-creation by exploring interactions among values, rules and knowledge.

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Wicked problems - see Complex problems

 

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