Research Integration Using Dialogue Methods

Book details

Research Integration Using Dialogue Methods (2009), David McDonald, Gabriele Bammer and Peter Deane, ANU Press, Canberra, 165pp. The book is available from ANU Press as a free downloadable e-book or a moderately-priced hardcopy. A flyer (193KB PDF) is also available.


Brief overview of book

Research on real-world problems—like restoration of wetlands, the needs of the elderly, effective disaster response and the future of the airline industry—requires expert knowledge from a range of disciplines, as well as from stakeholders affected by the problem and those in a position to do something about it. This book charts new territory in taking a systematic approach to research integration using dialogue methods to bring together multiple perspectives. It links specific dialogue methods to particular research integration tasks.
Fourteen dialogue methods for research integration are classified into two groups:
  1. Dialogue methods for understanding a problem broadly: integrating judgments
  2. Dialogue methods for understanding particular aspects of a problem: integrating visions, world views, interests and values.
The methods are illustrated by case studies from four research areas: the environment, public health, security and technological innovation. The book also includes a structured exercise matching the methods to different research integration tasks.

This book provides a range of dialogue methods for knowledge synthesis, specifically:

Dialogue Methods for Understanding a Problem Broadly: Integrating Judgments Dialogue Methods for Understanding Particular Aspects of a Problem: Integrating Visions, World Views, Interests and Values
Citizens’ Jury Appreciative Inquiry
Consensus Conference Strategic Assumption Surfacing and Testing
Consensus Development Panel Principled Negotiation
Delphi Technique Ethical Matrix
Future Search Conference  
Most Significant Change Technique  
Nominal Group Technique  
Open Space Technology  
Scenario Planning  
Soft Systems Methodology  


Contents of Dialogue Methods for Research Integration:

  1. Introduction
  2. Using the dialogue methods in this book
  3. Dialogue methods for understanding a problem broadly: integrating judgments
    1. citizens’ jury
    2. consensus conference
    3. consensus development panel
    4. Delphi technique
    5. future search conference
    6. most significant change technique
    7. nominal group technique
    8. open space technology
    9. scenario planning
    10. soft systems methodology
  4. Dialogue methods for understanding particular aspects of a problem: integrating visions, world views, interests and values
    1. appreciative inquiry
    2. strategic assumption surfacing and testing
    3. principled negotiation
    4. ethical matrix
  5. Differentiating between the dialogue methods
  6. Conclusions
  7. Appendices
    1. Dialogue methods in the context of Integration and Implementation Sciences
    2. Dialogue methods for research integration and the broader field of dialogue
    3. How we developed this book
  8. References


About the authors of Dialogue Methods for Research Integration

  • David McDonald is a social scientist active in the fields of research integration, evidence-based public policy, and policy and program evaluation, particularly applying these to the fields of substance abuse and criminal justice. He is director of the Canberra-based consultancy Social Research & Evaluation.
  • Gabriele Bammer is establishing Integration and Implementation Sciences (I2S) as a new discipline to integrate disciplinary and practice knowledge, understand and manage unknowns and provide research support for policy and practice change. She is a professor at ANU and a research fellow at Harvard University.
  • Peter Deane is a social scientist interested in science studies and dealing with the conundrums thrown up by modernity, especially in terms of the way we understand the socio-natural world and the ramifications of such understanding for intentional change in regard to what is good.


Reviews from the back cover of the book

“Researchers across a broad range of disciplines and domains of enquiry are increasingly engaged with dialogue-based approaches as a means of improving the integration, relevance and impact of research in tackling applied problems – this is certainly the case in sustainability science. Success is strongly dependent on selecting the right approach for the issue at hand. This can be challenging for disciplinary experts with limited experience in integration. This book is a clear, concise and highly accessible resource. It contextualises each approach in the broader domain and provides summaries and case study descriptions of each approach that clearly illustrate their fitness for purpose. In short it is an ideal resource for researchers and practitioners seeking best practice”. Daniel Walker, Acting Chief, CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, Canberra, Australia.

“Most writers on dialogue advocate one favourite approach. This book is different: it reviews a broad range of methods, highlighting their strengths and weaknesses. It provides useful tables to compare methods at a glance, and each method is presented very accessibly with a step-by-step description, practical examples and references to further reading. It is a great resource for both newcomers to dialogue methods and experienced researchers who want a window on less familiar approaches. In future years, there will be well-thumbed copies on many of our shelves”. Gerald Midgley, Senior Science Leader, Institute of Environmental Science & Research, Christchurch, New Zealand.


Reviews and commentaries

[nil at present]