The landscape of research in universities is changing. Among government funders, as well as other research agencies, there is a clear trend to seek interdisciplinary collaborations; there is a routine expectation to demonstrate impact and engagement; there is an emphasis on learning, experiencing and understanding work beyond disciplinary boundaries; organizations have set up collaborations with universities on a one-off or longer term basis; placement schemes exist to enable people to spend time working in other organizations and we see an increasing emphasis upon coproduction, working with communities and policy-related research.
Traditionally, academic research has involved bounded practices based on sets of justifications according to which the production of quality, as well as progress and recognition within a discipline, are based. These practices are important to protect the distinction of disciplines, the integrity of their practices and attraction to those who wish to be schooled in their ways of knowing. These are increasingly subject to factors such as funding criteria and pressures; variations in value attributed to different knowledge and methods; roles of consultancies and other knowledge producers and an increase in the existence of intermediary organisations, both inside and outside universities, who work to interpret and apply the results of research with consequences for the production-transmission-reception-application process.
Overall, we find a movement taking place from knowledge which is bounded by disciplines, to a process in which justification is shaped in different conditions of application. The implications of this vary across disciplines from physical to social sciences and the arts and humanities where ideas of evidence and insight vary. A greater understanding is needed concerning these variations and their implications for future practices. As a result, this research, involving interviews with those who have experience in the broad area of participative inquiry, will focus upon the following questions:
1) How are the boundaries between justification and application in different forms of practice negotiated and understood and what implications does this have for ideas of value?
2) How does the context within which knowledge is produced relate to the content and potential consequence for action, particularly when it comes to recognition of different knowledges?
3) What is the role of various forces in shaping the direction and process of knowledge production, reception and deployment?
4) What issues inform effective knowledge exchange?