How to do Research in the Real world: What is to know and Who is to gain?

Anne Marie Anker Villumsen

Publikation: Konferencebidrag uden forlag/tidsskriftAbstraktForskningpeer review


Real world research: The need for different types of knowledge requires two knowledge production processes
In real world research, there are dilemmas. One significant dilemma is time. The field of practice needs a type of knowledge that is produced quickly and can be applied immediately. This is generally a very difficult task to fulfill in the line of research. Another significant dilemma is the divergences in the types of knowledge required. The field of practice and the researcher need different types of knowledge. Therefore, differences emerge between an immediate and direct applicability versus a more far-reaching type of knowledge. The field of practice needs a type of knowledge that is directly and instantly usable. The researcher needs a type of knowledge that can meet the criteria within the world of academia and under the right circumstances can be applied and contribute within a specific line of research. This, again, requires time.
In the presentation, I will propose new concepts concerning real world research and knowledge production. The presentation will be based on data from a collaborative organizational field study. The aim of the study was establish a coherent practice of multidisciplinary collaboration between day-care and social services to support and aid children and families at risk.
First, I propose the concepts of a) Development through Research and b) Research through Development. Both concepts are inter-dependent. They share development as a goal and both require applying research as a centre of rotation in the developmental process in the field of practice.
Development through Research has the purpose of creating development in the field of practice based on a methodically stringent and scientifically based approach and thereby an anticipation of a more substantiated development. Development through Research is predominantly the goal of practice.
Research through Development has the purpose of displaying credibility on the content and quality of a particular developmental process in practice. It is intended to be made relevant in a more general perspective outside the participating field of practice. Research through Development is predominantly the goal of the researcher.
Second, I propose that these processes of Development through Research and Research through Development produce two different types of knowledge – based on divergence in requirements between field of practice and researcher.
Development through Research produces the type of knowledge I have conceptualised as Applied-knowledge. As a joint effort, the organization and the researcher engage in a sense-making process based on data collected within the field of practice and presented descriptively by the researcher. The outcome of this process is an immediately applicable knowledge to support developmental actions in the field of practice.
Research through Development produces the type of knowledge I have labelled Generalizable-knowledge. It is created solely by the researcher, based on theoretical analysis of data as well as other relevant research-based knowledge. This type of knowledge is directed at similar fields of practice as well as the field of research in general and thus beyond the participating organization.
Within the line of real world research, I propose that it is time to be up front and open about the different needs between field of practice and the line of research. It is also time to start conceptualizing these particular knowledge production processes to keep the scientific standard high when researching in a collaborative relationship with the real world.
Publikationsdatosep. 2016
StatusUdgivet - sep. 2016


  • Undersøgelsesdesign, teori og metode
  • Aktionsforskning
  • teoriske perspektiv