This web portal offers a point of entry to widespread methods and tools for collaboration between experts and stakeholders from science and practice to tackle real-world, context-sensitive societal challenges. It is structured by typical process phases and key issues such as integrating knowledge across fields of expertise. The methods are either part of the td-net toolbox (described by means of detailed method profiles) or part of an external online resource compilation (in this case only outlined by means of a short method factsheet).
The portal is provided by the Network of Transdisciplinary Research - td-net of the Swiss Academies of Arts and Sciences. Td-net supports inter- and transdisciplinary research and capacity building across academic fields and is committed to fostering scientific communities with respect to methods and tools for knowledge co-production.
The detailed method profiles are written by designated experts and reviewed by the editorial board. Feedback and suggestions for additional resources are welcome at any time.
Collaboration in inter- and transdisciplinary research involves specific tasks and challenges that disciplinary research methods and methodologies do not address. These include dealing with conflicting interests, expectations or political goals or finding ways to render research societally relevant. Specific tools help to shape respective collaboration processes in systematic and traceable ways.
A wide range of diverse expert communities provide methods and tools useful for inter- and transdisciplinary research collaborations. Beyond inter- and transdisciplinary research, they work in fields such as Team Science, Participatory Research, Management Science or Responsible Research and Innovation. The portal seeks to establish one single access to this ‘universe’ of methods and tools. It goes beyond the scope of td-net’s toolbox which is exclusively focused on collectively producing knowledge in heterogeneous groups, i.e. bridging different thought styles. The new portal presents a wide range of methods and tools that are useful for linking scientific research to societal problem solving. They are provided by different expert communities and stored in different online resource compilations.
The methods provided here support linking scientific research to tackling societal challenges. In contrast to more general principles or guidelines for collaboration, the methods and tools describe concrete procedures with step-by-step instructions. They use low-tech equipment and mostly everyday language and are easily adaptable depending on the situation. Some of them can be used without much preparation, whereas others require specific skills and experience in inter- and transdisciplinary processes. The tools vary in complexity. Some of them refer to very specific steps in a collaboration process while others are broader or of an overarching character. Some tools can be combined in the same process step (e.g. a workshop), others can be combined as a sequence of tools.
Applying methods and tools for collaboration between experts from science and practice usually requires moderation skills. In general, collaboration-related interactions need to be carefully designed, prepared and facilitated. Prerequisites from the side of the collaboration partners include openness to and interest in alternative views and the readiness to engage in a dialogue.
The portal features a series of typical project phases and a list of key issues of inter- and transdisciplinary research processes. In both lists, typical situations you might encounter are described and linked to adequate methods or tools. The methods and tools are either part of the td-net’s toolbox or of other online resource compilations.
The methods and tools listed in this portal are selected based on experts’ recommendations. Their usefulness for linking scientific research with tackling societal challenges needs to be confirmed by the experts’ experience. The final selection of tools is made by members of the editorial board.
This portal focuses on dialogue, exchange and collaboration processes. It does not feature methods and tools for information and communication activities. Thus, it does not address knowledge dissemination, knowledge transfer or (conventional) policy advice.
We foster a community of practice to develop, test and adapt methods and tools that support collaboration between experts and stakeholders from science and practice.
Our authors provide short reports of practical experiences they are making with the methods presented in our toolbox. They illustrate the variety of possible applications and outcomes of the methods.
The method profiles of the td-net toolbox have been tested and written by td-net in collaboration with authors. They provide a detailed characterization of the methods or tools and should clarify the most important questions for their application.
In contrast, the somewhat shorter method factsheets briefly present a method or tool that is already described in another resource collection and thus serve as an interface to other resource collections.
Factsheets are thus a supplement to the methods described more in detail of the td-net toolbox.