A better measure of research from the global south

… describe a new tool for judging the value and validity of science that attempts to improve lives.

The limitations of dominant research-evaluation approaches are well known1–5. Peer review is by definition an opinion. Ways of measuring citations — both scholarly and social — tell us about the popularity of published research. They don’t speak directly to its rigour, originality or usefulness. Such metrics tell us little or nothing about how to improve science and its stewardship. This is a challenge for researchers the world over.

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The Moral Foundations of Educational Research: Knowledge, Inquiry and Values

This book considers what is distinctive about educational research in comparison with other research in the social sciences. As the contributors, all agree that education is always an essentially moral enterprise, discussion about methodology starts, not with the widely endorsed claim that educational research should be ‘useful’ and ‘relevant’, but with the attempt to justify and elaborate that claim with reference to its moral foundations

“This is a book for everyone doing educational research. It is not simply a routine provocation directed at positivists by a group of researchers advocating qualitative methods. The book makes a valuable contribution to the literature on the ethics of educational research by offering something more than opposition to the narrow utilitarian research agenda.” British Journal of Educational Studies

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Linking learning and research through transdisciplinary competences

What are the objectives of transdisciplinary learning? What are the key competences and how do they relate to both educational goals and transdisciplinary research goals? At Transdisciplinarity Lab (TdLab), our group answered these questions by observing and reflecting upon the six courses at Bachelor’s, Master’s, and PhD levels that we design and teach in the Department of Environmental Systems Science at ETH Zurich, Switzerland.

Six competence fields describe what we hope students can do with the help of our courses. A competence field contains a set of interconnected learning objectives for students. We use these competence fields as the basis for curriculum design. The competence fields were identified by reflecting on actual skills needed to conduct a transdisciplinary research process and by identifying elements from courses that have proven to be meaningful for students personally.

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Creating research value needs more than just science – arts, humanities, social sciences can help

This week we’re launching Making science for people, a series of articles that explore how humanities, arts and social sciences expertise is applied to problems typically corralled into the science and technology space. In this first piece, Rachel and Lisa set the scene.

Globally, discussions of research priorities by governments, universities, and many researchers position science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) disciplines at the forefront of innovation and industry engagement.

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Interdisciplinarity, Transdisciplinarity, and Beyond: The Brain, Story Sharing, and Social Organization

An apparent conflict between preferences for hierarchical as opposed to distributed organizations is evident in arguments about disciplinary and interdisciplinary organization. It characterizes as well a wide array of other arenas ranging from the biological to the political. In this article, parallels between biological, neurobiological, and social observations are explored in an effort to outline a general approach that may be useful in thinking about interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary activities as well as forms of social organization in general. A key element in the approach is an ongoing individual and collective process of story creation, sharing, and revising. The article is offered both as a contribution to better understanding interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary work and as an illustrative example of the potentials and problems of such work.

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Transdisciplinary Methodology of the Dialogue Between People, Cultures, and Spiritualities

When two people try to communicate there is, inevitably, confrontation: representation against representation, subconscious against subconscious. As this confrontation is subconscious, it often degenerates into conflict. A new model of civilisation is necessary, whose keystone is the dialogue between human beings, nations, cultures and religions for the survival of humanity. In the formation of a new model of civilization, the methodology of  transdisciplinarity is crucial.

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Leading large transdisciplinary projects

What’s required to lead exceptionally large projects involving many dozens of participants from various scientific disciplines (including biophysical, social, and economic), multiple stakeholders, and efforts spanning a gamut from discovery to implementation? Such projects are common when investigating social-ecological systems which are inherently complex and large in spatial and temporal scales. Problems are commonly multifaceted, with incomplete or apparently contradictory knowledge, stakeholders with divergent positions, and large economic or social consequences.

Leaders of such very large projects confront unique challenges in addition to those inherent to directing interdisciplinary efforts:

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Digital Methods for Social Science: An Interdisciplinary Guide to Research Innovation

This timely book inspires researchers to deploy relevant, effective, innovative digital methods. It explores the relationship of such methods to ‘mainstream’ social science; interdisciplinarity; innovations in digital research tools; the opportunities (and challenges) of digital methods in researching social life; and digital research ethics.

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Research Methods for Education in the Digital Age

What is research in education? And what is it for in a digital age? Reflecting upon these questions, this engaging introduction provides critical discussion about the dilemmas of researching education in the digital age and ways forward for research in this complex area.

Research Methods for Education in the Digital Age begins by outlining forms of education that are seen as digital, such as virtual, blended, immersive learning and examining the extent to which these are different or just adapted versions of earlier methods and approaches to education. Maggi Savin-Baden and Gemma Tombs explore current practices in research, identifying the successful adoption and adaption of theories and present practical guidance on new and emerging methodologies, methods, and analytical practices for undertaking educational research. New methodologies discussed include digital arts-based inquiry and digital visual methodologies, as well as adaptations of widely used methodologies such as ethnography, for the specific needs of researching digital teaching and learning.

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The University campus as a transdisciplinary living laboratory

How can transdisciplinary educators help students reflexively understand their position in the field of research? Often this means giving students the opportunity to go beyond being observers of social reality to experience themselves as potential agents of change.

To enable this opportunity, we developed a model for a ‘Transdisciplinary Living Lab’ (Fam et al., forthcoming). This builds on the concept of a collaborative test bed of innovative approaches to a problem or situation occurring in a ‘living’ social environment where end-users are involved. For us, the social environment is the university campus. We involved two universities in developing this model – the University of Technology Sydney and Western Sydney University. We aimed to help students explore food waste management systems on campus and to consider where the interventions they designed were situated within global concerns, planetary boundaries and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

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