Prompting transdisciplinary research: Promising futures for using the performance metaphor in research

Davina Boyd*, I.M. Buizer, Renato Schibeci, Catherine Baudains

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


Transdisciplinary research is increasingly recognised as important for investigating and addressing ‘wicked’ problems such as climate change, food insecurity and poverty, but is far from commonplace. There are structural impediments to transdisciplinarity such as university structures, publication requirements and funding preferences that perpetuate disciplinary differences and researchers often lack transdisciplinary experience and expertise. In this paper we present a heuristic that aims to encourage researchers to think about their current research as performance and then imagine different performances, with the view to encouraging reflection and creativity about the transdisciplinary potential and dilemmas. The heuristic is inspired by the metaphor of performance that Erving Goffman uses to understand everyday, face-to-face interactions. The heuristic includes scaffolding for imagining research as performance through a transdisciplinary lens, a suggested process for using the tool, and examples based on the every day research projects. The paper describes the application of the heuristic in a graduate masterclass, reflecting on whether it does indeed ‘prompt’ transdisciplinary research. Limitations and lessons learned for further refinement of the heuristic are also included. The authors conclude that the heuristic has a range of uses including for self-reflection, and as a practical learning tool that can also be used at the start of integrative research projects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-184
Publication statusPublished - 2015


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