Improving the i2Insights blog: Your ideas are welcome!

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Gabriele Bammer (biography)

Community member post by Gabriele Bammer and Peter Deane

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/.

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Peter Deane (biography)

What the blog aims to achieve

The primary aim of the blog is to connect disparate groups of people for the purpose of sharing concepts, methods, theory and processes – referred to collectively as tools – for research on complex societal and environmental problems. The tools cover research integration and implementation, broadly defined.

The rationale is that there are many networks and teams who have no central point of connection, which results in:

  • no mechanism for passing on useful tools
  • no easy way to learn from each other
  • much reinventing of the wheel
  • reduced chances that existing tools will be improved
  • reduced chances that adaptations of tools to particular circumstances will be documented.

The blog also provides a venue to share lessons from case studies, as well as to share ideas about educating the next generation to tackle complex problems. Finally, there are occasional blog posts on how to get research on integration and implementation accepted into the academic mainstream, referred to as ‘institutionalisation’.

The i2Insights blog is one project under the Integration and Implementation Sciences (i2S) umbrella and we are currently reviewing how to better integrate the blog with a resources repository on the i2S website. That repository not only provides tools and case studies, but also showcases relevant journals, professional associations and networks, as well as conferences, all of which provide ways of linking with others interested in researching and addressing complex real-world problems.

Our current review of the i2Insights blog

Now that we are in our fourth year of operation, we are reviewing the following aspects of the blog:

  • the ability of readers to connect with like-minded researchers and practitioners
  • the ability of readers to find useful tools, both on the blog and on the i2S resources repository
  • our blog ‘house style’
  • blog content.

A. Connecting with like-minded researchers and practitioners – would you like:

  1. a more detailed bibliography provided by the blog authors, eg., referring to their education and/or citations of key work?
  2. anything else (please specify)?

B. Finding useful tools – would you like:

  1. more specific links to related blog posts?
  2. changes to the tags we provide (please specify; note that tags are the words listed under a blog post title)?
  3. an improved search capacity?
  4. links to related tools on the i2S website (https://i2s.anu.edu.au/resources/tools)?
  5. anything else (please specify)

C. House style – would you like to see changes in:

  1. the length of blog posts (currently limited to 500-1000 words)?
  2. the policy of minimal references (only those directly cited)?
  3. the policy of opening and closing with questions? Do you find the questions engaging?
  4. anything else (please specify)?

D. Blog content:

  1. are there topics that you would like to see covered or to see more coverage of? (If yes, please specify)
  2. are there topics that you would like to see less coverage of? (If yes, please specify)
  3. anything else (please specify)?

Final questions

What are the key things you get from reading the blog? Would you like to be involved in producing the blog or in disseminating blog posts?

We will report on how we have incorporated your suggestions for changing the blog in a future blog post.

Biography: Gabriele Bammer PhD is a professor at The Australian National University in the Research School of Population Health’s National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health. She is developing the new discipline of Integration and Implementation Sciences (i2S) to improve research strengths for tackling complex real-world problems through synthesis of disciplinary and stakeholder knowledge, understanding and managing diverse unknowns, and providing integrated research support for policy and practice change. 

Biography: Peter Deane is a Research Officer on the Integration and Implementation Sciences (i2S) team at the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health in the Research School of Population Health at The Australian National University.

Toolboxes as learning aids for dealing with complex problems

Community member post by Stefan Hilser

Stefan Hilser (biography)

How can toolboxes more effectively support those learning to deal with complex societal and environmental problems, especially novices such as PhD students and early career researchers?

In this blog post, I briefly describe four toolboxes and assess them for their potential to assist learning processes. My main aim is to open a discussion about the value of the four toolboxes and how they could better help novices.

Before describing the toolboxes, I outline the learning processes I have in mind, especially the perspective of legitimate peripheral participation. Continue reading

Building a global community to improve how complex real-world problems are tackled

Community member post by Gabriele Bammer

This is the third annual “state of the blog” review.

Gabriele Bammer (biography)

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? Continue reading

A checklist for documenting knowledge synthesis

Community member post by Gabriele Bammer

Gabriele Bammer (biography)

How do you write-up the methods section for research synthesizing knowledge from different disciplines and stakeholders to improve understanding about a complex societal or environmental problem?

In research on complex real-world problems, the methods section is often incomplete. An agreed protocol is needed to ensure systematic recording of what was undertaken. Here I use a checklist to provide a first pass at developing such a protocol specifically addressing how knowledge from a range of disciplines and stakeholders is brought together.

KNOWLEDGE SYNTHESIS CHECKLIST

1. What did the synthesis of disciplinary and stakeholder knowledge aim to achieve, which knowledge was included and how were decisions made? Continue reading

To read or not to read…

Community member post by Gabriele Bammer

This is the second annual “state of the blog” review.

gabriele-bammer
Gabriele Bammer (biography)

Why are you reading this? That sounds like an aggressive question, but it’s not meant to be. It’s a prelude to asking: is the blog serving a useful purpose for you? If so, what is it doing right? If not, what could it do better?

The blog was established to provide easier access to concepts and methods for dealing with complex problems in any field (environment, public health, welfare, education, security and more) and to connect a diverse and fragmented community – primarily of researchers.

November 2017 marked the blog’s second anniversary and this 169th blog post reviews how we are tracking, as well as asking for your input. Continue reading

Three lessons from statistics for interdisciplinarians and fellow travellers

Community member post by Gabriele Bammer

gabriele-bammer
Gabriele Bammer (biography)

In last week’s blog post on recognising interdisciplinary expertise I argued that forming a new i2S discipline could help embed interdisciplinarity and related approaches (transdisciplinarity, systems thinking, action research, T-shaped research and others) in the academic mainstream. But how would such a discipline work? What are the challenges to establishing an i2S discipline and how could they be overcome?

The discipline of statistics provides three productive analogies. Key to success in both statistics and i2S are: collaboration, dedicated journals to publish advances in concepts and methods, and lobbying for effective application of the discipline. Continue reading