Researching Transition: making sure it benefits transitioners
By Ben Brangwyn 29th March 2012
You can help make sure that Researchers are doing work that benefits transitioners. Here’s how.
Here at Transition Network we get a regular flow of research enquiries – all the way from student projects that have to be in the next day to PhDs with multi-year, multi-country, multi-dimensional proposals. Some of these are purely extractive research – ie the researcher gets a grade or qualification while the transitioners get nothing for the effort they’ve been asked to put in. Others understand that the benefits should flow in both directions and that the research work must be designed from the outset to help transition move forward.
There are a number of activities in progress right now to ensure that transition and research form a symbiotic relationship, such as the newly formed Transition Research Network that will help shape the frameworks to make that a reality. Another key element – and that’s what this posting is about – is some preliminary research to find out what approaches work best for Transition Initiatives. To that end, here’s a letter that will be sent to some key contacts who we know have been subjected to research projects (either favorably or otherwise), to solicit their/your views on best practice and how you’d like to see research on transition conducted going forward. Here’s an extract of that letter:
We recognise that Transition is attracting increasing attention from university researchers looking for projects that are socially useful as well as academically sound. Similarly, many Transition initiatives could benefit from research in their locale – for example, land use analyses, location-specific community engagement strategies, ‘leaky bucket’ economic analyses, and opportunities to reflect systematically on their experiences.
We are looking for up to five case-studies of local initiatives that have taken part in a research project involving academics (including dissertation or PhD projects). For each case-study, we will arrange a series of interviews. We would like to hear your stories about the challenges and opportunities for Transition, about what you have learned from your engagement with Transition, about your experience of being involved with research, and about what you think would enable beneficial relationships between researchers and Transitioners. We hope to document case studies of both successful collaborations and those that, for whatever reason, may not have worked so well. We think it is important to capture learning from a range of experiences, in a spirit of constructive inquiry. Any requests for confidentiality or anonymity will be strictly respected.
We plan to end this phase of work with a two-day workshop for all participants where we will share experiences and learning, and consider how best to act upon these. One of the aims of the project is to create a set of guidelines to inform future research collaborations.
We’re planning to hold individual interviews between April and June, and the workshop towards the end of June. Your time involvement would be up to a couple of hours for an interview. We’ll pay any travel costs, and if you come to the workshop we will cover travel, meals and accommodation. As a thank you for taking part, each of the five transition initiatives involved as case-studies will receive £300.
This is part of a twelve-month project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) within the Connected Communities programme. It is being delivered by a team of researchers from Bradford, Durham, Glamorgan and Manchester Universities and staff from Transition Network.
If you are interested in participating, please send a message to Ute Kelly: U.Kelly@bradford.ac.uk and copy email@example.com. If you would like to speak on the phone in the first instance, please send Ute a message with a contact number and she’ll get back to you. For any more general enquiries about the research project contact Tom Henfrey: firstname.lastname@example.org
So, if you have direct experience of your Transition Initiative being part of a research project and you’d like to help shape how research can serve your initiative and others going forward, please contact Ute Kelly: U.Kelly@bradford.ac.uk as noted above.
Thanks in anticipation.