Who: Stakeholder Engagement

There is a spectrum of engagement options for connecting with stakeholders through research. Transdisciplinary research programs focus on the higher levels of inclusivity. Instead of just informing or communicating with social actors or gathering data or consulting them. These are the level of ‘non-participation’. Instead, transdisciplinary research programs are about participation by stakeholders and an inherent value of stakeholder knowledge. At the deepest level, this involves co-creating and delivering the research program.

What does transdisciplinary research mean for engaging stakeholders in practice?

  • Transdisciplinary research requires collaboration between academic and non-academic stakeholders, that can take many different forms. [See Methods and Resources]
  • Knowledge is co-produced: Stakeholders are involved in research as significant contributors. It is important to decide which parts of the project are being co-produced and which not. Prof. John Robinson notes that there are various ‘co’s’ to consider:
    • Co-creation of partnerships: Transdisciplinarity isn’t about communication, but it is rather co-defining what the problem is, and really sourcing knowledge from the stakeholders from the beginning of the research project.
    • Co-design of projects including problem definition and approach.
    • Co-production of knowledge.
    • Co-implementation of results or co-dissemination.

Note: Not every researcher has to constantly be engaged in the questions of co-production, but if you are engaged in transdisciplinary work then the project has to be.

  • Co-creation means that research questions, methods, research itself, and interpretation of results are all open to being done in partnership; therefore, they are emergent.

Identifying who to engage:

The OECD guide recommends considering the following ethical considerations in selecting stakeholders (OECD 2020, p.38):

  • Diversity and inclusivity of partners
  • Gender balance and diversity of individuals
  • Asymmetries of power between academic and non-academic partners
  • Cultural equity and / or language issues
  • Data access and who controls access
  • Equitable distribution of risks and benefits
  • The potential for unintended consequences of the implementation of an intervention.
Click here to access the OECD guide

The university also provides guidance and training on diverse forms of public engagement (e.g. citizen science, festivals), which may complement your transdisciplinary initiatives.

Go to the Methods & resources page to find out more tips and resources on how to engage stakeholders effectively.

See Methods & resources