Methods in interdisciplinary teams pilot

In the first half of 2022 the Methods Hub at Newcastle undertook a series of pilot workshops with colleagues to test ideas we have been developing. Over the course of four workshops, we examined different aspects of the research methods we use. We discussed our epistemological positions and disciplinary locations, and we explored how these different framings operate within interdisciplinary work.

In this short report, our focus is on the second workshop we held, which was called the ‘methodological zoo’. It was hosted by Dr Amy Baron and Dr Laura Pottinger - colleagues at Manchester University, who run a project called Methods for Change. This project is funded by Aspect, and is led by Dr Alison Browne and Professor Sarah Marie Hall. As per the name, they are interested in how social science methods themselves create change (Pottinger, Barron, Hall, et al., 2022). They argue that “… methods are not only important in witnessing global challenges or as tools to gather data”, but that “methods themselves can play a role in transforming ideas, practices and knowledge” (Pottinger, Barron, Browne, et al., 2022).

We share this sentiment in the Methods Hub at Newcastle University. We are interested in understanding methods both in terms of how we would ‘normally’ understand them – the specific research techniques and strategies that generate data and enable our analysis – but also a wider sense of methods. The latter includes the collaborative (for example, cross-, inter- and trans-disciplinary work); the institutional components (how researchers engage with research governance requirements); the philosophical perspectives that implicitly or explicitly inform research approaches; and the ‘off the record’ conversations (for example, about our doubts or concerns or the ‘messiness’ of research).

Over here we share with you the animals from the workshop, which have been illustrated by Leyla Reynolds. We also include reflections on our pilot work from our research assistant Jess Adams, and Chang Liu, PhD student in the School of Education, Communication, and Language Sciences, and one of the participants in the project.

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