Methodology in Action

The relationship between research and practice

Authored by: Neil Harris

The Routledge Handbook of Planning Research Methods

Print publication date:  November  2014
Online publication date:  August  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415727952
eBook ISBN: 9781315851884
Adobe ISBN: 9781317917038


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Every researcher, no matter what the nature of his or her individual research endeavour or project, is required to reflect on the relationship between his or her research activity and the world of practice. This is equally true of the ‘blue skies’ researcher, whose relationship to practice may be long-term, indirect and diffuse, as it is the contract researcher engaged in conducting short-term, client-driven research who is expected to effect change in existing policy or practice. Chapter 1.1 sketched out some of the relationships between research and practice and the chapters in this part of the book explore that relationship further. Some contributions focus on conceptualising the relationship between research and practice, providing us with several different models for thinking about the nature of that relationship. These range from a traditional understanding of research informing practice to a more open and collaborative understanding of the role of stake-holders in the production of knowledge through research activity. Other contributions explore the application of specific concepts in practice, identifying the nature of specific methodologies as they cross over into the world of practice. The common theme running through the chapters is that of research as a collaborative exercise extending well beyond the academic community, in which many varied stakeholders with different perspectives and backgrounds are engaged. These different backgrounds may in some cases be addressed through thinking carefully about how research is conducted and how researchers communicate with their different audiences. Yet in other cases – particularly, but not exclusively, in non-Western contexts – engaging with these different stakeholders may present more fundamental challenges to how research is conceptualised and also to which methodologies are considered appropriate.

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