Knowledge co-production: td-net toolbox

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The methods in the td-net toolbox for co-producing knowledge are useful for bringing together different perspectives on a problem, recognising that not only individuals but also social groups have different ways of thinking about issues. One method (soft systems methodology) covers the whole process, while the others cover specific aspects. The aim is to provide researchers with an array of methods from which they can choose those most appropriate for their particular research problem.

The methods in brief:

Soft systems methodology leads a heterogeneous group through the process of structuring a complex problem to deciding on the most desirable and feasible change while keeping worldviews explicit throughout. 

Toolbox approach allows disciplinary experts to understand how their own and other disciplines approach research.

Three types of knowledge tool examines what is, what should be, and how we come from where we are to where we should be, thereby allowing explicit deliberation and decisions on the research question.

Actor constellation method uncovers implicit assumptions that disciplinary experts and stakeholders have about each other’s relevance for and potential contributions to addressing the research question.

Delphi method allows a group of experts to anonymously develop a considered position demonstrating the substance and degree of consensus and dissent.

Emancipatory boundary critique allows stakeholders to uncover normative assumptions underlying solutions to complex problems proposed by disciplinary experts.

Most significant change technique provides a way for researchers and practitioners to compare values and priorities in monitoring and evaluating social change projects.

Storywall method enables reflection on the process of co-producing knowledge with each participant explaining how they perceived and experienced the joint process.

Nomadic concepts is a heuristic tool for exchanging understandings of concepts across disciplinary, professional and cultural boundaries.

Research marketplace tool can be used to initiate bilateral and small group exchange between (sub)projects that need to be linked.

Venn diagramm tool focuses on developing a diagram for forming groups around joint topics based on participants’ backgrounds, expertise, and interests.

Give-and-take matrix can be used for identifying pieces of knowledge to be shared between subparts of inter- and trans-disciplinary projects.

The td-net toolbox for co-producing knowledge provides a description of each method. Examples of their use are being collected and new methods are added from time to time.


More detail on four of these methods is available elsewhere under I2S resources:

Posted: October 2015
Last modified: October 2015