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Open Access Succeeding with interactive research: How to manage research with and about society

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Increasingly, social science research is carried out in collaboration with partners outside universities, yet research methodology is lacking on how to manoeuvre in a terrain where multiple actors set expectations for research. This article conceptualizes interactive research as research with and about society, and provides a set of systematic reflections on how to manage opposing pressures, tensions and dilemmas in interactive research projects. We formulate and address three major interactive research management tasks: ensuring continual commitment from external stakeholders, maintaining the capacity for critique and ensuring that scientific standards are met. Based on our own experience and theories of interactive governance, network management and collaborative leadership, as well as on existing methodological literature, we provide guidance and suggest concrete tools and methods for performing the tasks in order to avoid the pitfalls and harvest the gains of interactive research.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: July 1, 2017

More about this publication?
  • Engagement with research goes further than participation in it. Engaged individuals and communities initiate research, advise, challenge or collaborate with researchers. Their involvement is always active and they have a crucial influence on the conduct of the research.

    Research for All is a peer-reviewed journal focusing on research that involves universities and communities, services or industries working together. Contributors and readers are from both inside and outside of higher education. They include researchers, policymakers, managers, practitioners, community-based organizations, schools, businesses and the intermediaries who bring these people together. The journal highlights the potential in active public engagement for robust academic study, for the development of involved communities, and for the impact of research. It explores engagement with different groups and their cultures, and features theoretical and empirical analysis alongside authoritative commentary to explore a range of themes that are key to engaged research including the development of reciprocal relationships, sector-specific communication and participatory action research. The journal is co-sponsored by the UCL Institute of Education and the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement.

    The journal welcomes relevant articles. See the publication homepage for details, or contact [email protected]

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