Practitioners who do research

Might be interesting to look at examples of practitioners who do research (and vice versa).

I asked the PCST discussion list for examples of researchers working with practitioners. 18 responses, almost all were practitioners who also conducted research as part of projects they were doing. Examples include:

• The Story Collider ( which uses research into studies of narrative communication to train scientists to tell compelling stories about science
• The Life Science Centre in the UK reads studies on child development, psychology, anthropology as well as “science communication” and related fields, to develop a loose ‘theory of change’ to inform its approach to exhibitions
• The UK’s UWE in Bristol Our encourages Masters’ students to partner up with practitioners based in science centres, museums and charities to develop innovative research and evaluation project. See
• An international project involving the US, UK and Denmark is looking at how theatrical practices engage audiences in discussion, generates questions, and expands thinking about scientific phenomena, relevance of science, and what scientists do. This is not about art in the service to science, or vice versa, but specifically how practices of investigation, sense-making, and critique overlap and differentiate across the disciplines.  Eg, the role of materiality in scientific and artistic investigations, producing tentative representations, role of critique in advancing practice, etc.

Bronwen Bevan from the Collaboratory said:

“There’s a literature that differentiates between partnerships and collaborations, and while one can debate which word means which, the salient distinction is what your question refers to: In one there is “cooperation” (which can be ongoing and sincere and mutually beneficial, but doesn’t entail really any fundamental change in what one does).  In the other, over time, you get a new hybrid form of activity where what people do (what they question, how they investigate, what they do with the results) shifts through joint work together.  In the world of health sciences research and more recently improvement sciences research, the argument is that findings are not being taken up/put into practice using the more traditional model and we need to think about more hybrid (partnership) forms of research to get real change on the ground.”

So according to her, it all hangs on the nature of the relationship…

(Let’s change ‘Are their reasons for ethical concerns?’ to “.. there …’)


1 thought on “Practitioners who do research”

  1. Further to my earlier post:

    On issues where practitioners want the advice of researchers:

    How can I demonstrate that my event/display/website is working ok, in a manageable cost-effective way?
    How can I improve my activities/event/display/website so they have have a greater effect on the population eg inspire them to change behaviour?
    Persuade, win support.
    What approaches are most likely to persuade the population or decision-makers to provide support (and then the negative side as well)?
    Counter opposition.
    What are the best approaches to take with people who are adamantly opposed to the idea you are aiming to propound eg vaccination, climate change?
    risk and uncertainty. Providing a better way of explaining these terms and the way people deal with them, and what practitioners should do to explain/ manage them in their activities

    Most practitioner activities are deficit model: when Jenni Metcalfe diid a big survey of activities in Australia, it came up as about 80% deficit. There is a value in deficit activities, in some situations and some communities, but much research seems to frown on deficit and urges practitioners to get involved in dialogue and participatory activities.

    Unfortunately there’s not much practical advice on how dialogue and participatory activities might be scaled up to large populations.

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