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Open Access Changing Faces - Factors Influencing the Roles of Researchers in Real-World Laboratories

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This article is Open Access under the terms of the Creative Commons CC BY licence.

In real-world laboratories (RwLs), researchers do more than conventional research. They slip into different roles. Why do they “change faces”? Based on comparisons of three urban RwLs, we analyse the process steps and conditions influencing the choices made by researchers to adopt certain roles.

Real-world laboratories (RwLs) often put researchers in highly demanding research contexts regarding their roles and self-conceptions. Helpful roles of researchers have been described but still little is known about the factors influencing the adoption of certain roles. Using data from three parallel RwLs in Wuppertal, Germany, we found four roles of researchers: the reflective scientist, the facilitator, the change agent and the (self-)reflexive scientist. We sequenced the RwLs into situations and analysed them by RwL process steps and conditions, considering the roles of researchers as outcomes. Although the conditions convey only limited explanatory power, there was a consistent picture that being pressured to carry out real-world action, having a practice partner with fewer resources and working without a functional project group is (in conjunction) sufficient to cause the researcher to partake in activities beyond conventional research. Process steps played a minor role. Our research on factors influencing the adoption of roles may help RwL researchers to perform their roles as intended.
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Keywords: Qualitative Comparative Analysis; Wuppertal; real-world laboratories; real-world laboratory flowchart; roles of researchers; transdisciplinarity; transformative research

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2018

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