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Frameworks for Transdisciplinary Research

This new follow-on column will focus on frameworks for transdisciplinary research, featuring ways of systematically approaching transdisciplinary research.

FRAMEWORK #2: A Model for the Transdisciplinary Research Process

This model aims to guide researchers through the challenging tasks of problem constitution, knowledge integration, and the participation of societal actors. It was developed at the Institute for Social-Ecological Research (ISOE) in 2004 and subsequently refined.

The model (see figure 1) builds upon a basic proposition: Developing solutions for complex societal problems requires linking these problems to gaps in the existing bodies of knowledge, that is, to scientific problems. This proposition allows one to conceptualize the contributions of research to societal (left hand side) and scientific (right hand side) progress as the two epistemic ends of a single integrative process. This process consists of three tasks (problem constitution, knowledge integration, and the participation of societal actors) spread across three consecutive phases (A to C).

You can download the Framework #2 here (pdf file).

Framework #1: Principles for Designing Transdisciplinary Research

This framework consists of a set of principles from the td-net (Network for Transdisciplinary Research) of Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences. A series of case studies in the Handbook of Transdisciplinary Research (Hirsch Hadorn et al. 2008) shows how these principles can be implemented. The principles are general guidelines for addressing key challenges of transdisciplinary research. The aim is to help transdisciplinary researchers plan and implement their investigations.

The principles are structured along the three phases of transdisciplinary research:

1. problem identification and structuring;
2. problem analysis;
3. "Bringing results to fruition", in other words, implementing research in practice-oriented solutions for the common good.

You can download the Framework #1 here (pdf file).

Toolkits for Transdisciplinarity
The series highlights existing compilations of methods useful for transdisciplinary research - now available for download!
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