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Transdisciplinary collaboration in environmental research

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Pohl C. Transdisciplinary collaboration in environmental research. Futures. 2005;37:1159-1178.

One aim of transdisciplinary research is to get natural and social scientists to collaborate, so as to achieve an integrated view of a subject that goes beyond the viewpoints offered by any particular discipline. The question of how transdisciplinary approaches can be practised remains a challenge, however, if the quantitative and the qualitative sciences are both to be included. To explore this question, a series of qualitative interviews was conducted with researchers involved in two recent Swiss and Swedish research programmes. In both these programmes natural and social scientists had to collaborate in problem-driven environmental research. Three findings from these interviews are discussed in this paper: (a) that the researchers have more reasons to offer for non-collaboration than for collaboration, and that most of the thinking about transdisciplinary collaboration takes place at the level of programme management, (b) that the researchers should be classified as Detached Specialists or Engaged Problem Solvers rather than as natural and social scientists, and (c) that if collaboration evolves in a problem-driven research environment it tends to take the form of division of labour. The conclusion this paper draws for problem-driven research is that, paradoxically, the pressure to produce usable results should be reduced if collaboration is to emerge.

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Type of Publication:

Journal article


transdisciplinary research, qualitative interviews, collaboration

Addresses these goal(s):

  • Conduct research on/evaluate team science

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Resource created by Lauren Faulkner on 2/6/2015 11:17:38 AM.

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