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What Is It Good For? Reflecting and Systematizing Accompanying Research to Research Programs.

Implementing innovative research formats such as real-world laboratories can be supported by accompanying research. On condition that their specifics are observed, accompanying research inquiring into the processes taking place and accompanying research facilitating the production of integrated knowledge are particularly beneficial.

There is a tradition of research accompanying technical or social innovations, policy measures or other interventions. As a rule, such research aims at finding out how innovations, measures and interventions are received or about their intended and unintended effects. In contrast, there is hardly any tradition of research projects accompanying running research programs, and scientific debate dealing with this kind of accompanying research is almost completely lacking. At the same time, 'accompanying research' ('Begleitforschung' in German) denotes a confusing variety of different things (see the nine variants listed by Fiedeler et al. 2010 (1)). In our paper, we want to contribute to this debate by suggesting a typology of accompanying research to research programs summarizing our experiences in conducting such research.

Research accompanying research is far from being a matter of course. It is not by chance that it is mostly to be found in the context of innovative formats of research and/or funding lines such as (transdisciplinary and transformative) real-world laboratories (RwLs).

The Federal State of Baden-Wurttemberg is currently funding 14 BaWti Labs running as RwLs (two funding lines 2015 to 2017 and 2016 to 2018, each with seven RwLs) and two accompanying research projects. These accompanying projects both want to augment knowledge about the research format of RwLs, but they pursue different goals and adopt different methodical approaches (table 1, p. 98; see also Schapke et al. 2016). Despite their differences, the two accompanying projects proceed from similar theoretical approaches and complement each other. This allows for coherent communication with both funding agency and Ba-Wu Labs. The projects coordinate their activities and include, whenever possible and suitable, the other project in their respective activities (the teams answered the call independently, it was the funding agency's decision to fund two projects and to fund these two projects).

The nature of our paper is self-reflexive and conceptual. We present suggestions based on our own experiences. We know of no empirical research dealing with accompanying research to running research programs we could compare our experiences with. What we present is not based on systematically gained empirical evidence, either. It mirrors our own perception as well as the qualitative feedback we collected while accompanying the BaWu Labs (among other things, we sent an earlier version of this paper to the BaWu Labs for feedback). Accordingly, we do not claim general validity but want to provide stuff for debate and for future research--and a tool for funding agencies.

After explaining the term 'research program', we discuss the special nature (and success factors) of accompanying research to research programs along the dimensions "research", "relationship to the actors", and "process-related tasks". The accompanying research to the BaWu Lab program will be located against this backdrop. We conclude by proposing to distinguish three types of accompanying research to research programs.

Defining What Research Programs Are

Before presenting the dimensions we think are appropriate to accurately characterize accompanying research to research programs, we have to explain what we mean by 'research program':

Research programs are funding lines for which funding agencies at a certain point of time issue a call for projects (single projects and/or project groups) on a specific topic. Well known examples are the National Research Programmes (NRP) funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) or the Funding Measures funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Much less frequently, a research program is defined not by a topic but by a specific research format. The program of the Federal State ofBaden-Wurttemberg funding RwLs (the BaWu Lab program) is an example of a research program defined by a research format.

Projects running in research programs have in common that they all start and end more or less at the same time, and that they share an overarching content and/or a similar research approach and thus make comparable experiences. But they are not designed and chosen to collaboratively produce integrated results. Actually, their research topics might be far apart. Most, if not all, research programs are interdisciplinary (involving different academic disciplines), some are transdisciplinary (involving also non-academic actors). Most research programs address topics of societal relevance, some of them, such as the BaWu Lab program, pursue transformative goals additionally.

Capturing the Nature of Accompanying Research to Research Programs

Accompanying research projects to research programs are additional projects funding agencies decide to fund. Such projects are meant to provide added value compared to funding only the other, 'normal', projects within a program. Their raison d'etre is the research program, that is, they are justified by the program and they are meant to cooperate, to a variable extent, with the other actors involved. Accompanying research is thus "a relational concept which places one research activity in a relationship to another one", but it is still independent research (Fiedeler et al. 2010).

Based on our experience, we suggest the following dimensions to capture the special nature (added value and success factors) of projects accompanying research programs:

* Research: What kind of scientific knowledge is produced?

* Relationship to the actors: What is the special relationship to the other projects (and the funding agency)?

* Process-related tasks: What additional tasks can be incorporated?

Research: What Kind of Scientific Knowledge Is Produced?

Accompanying research is research and as such it has to produce new scientific knowledge, that is, the resulting knowledge is the primary added value. Accompanying research projects can produce three different kinds of scientific knowledge, and these in turn are decisive for the expertise needed to lead such projects to success:

K1--knowledge about the topic of the research program: This is knowledge produced by the accompanying research project covering specific aspects of a research programs' topic (this corresponds to the variants 1, 2, 4, and 5 by Fiedeler et al. 2010 (1)). Funding agencies can influence but not fully control the process of submission and review, that is, not all topics they originally might have liked to be investigated are necessarily covered by (successful) project proposals. If a funding agency comes to the conclusion that the discrepancy between what a program is meant to address and the topics investigated by the actually funded projects will impair the achievement of the program's goals, it may decide to close this gap by calling for a project investigating predefined questions or for a project answering these questions by using data provided by the other projects in the program (e. g., ethical issues in a program investigating new technologies if the funded projects do not cover such issues, see Fiedeler et al. 2010). To be successful, the scholars conducting an accompanying research project aimed at producing this kind of knowledge must obviously show a specialized expertise related to the topic of the research program (called "contributory expertise" by Collins and Evans 2002). The Ba Wu Lab program is not informed by a specific topic. The funded projects cover a broad range of topics such as mobility, sharing of offices, regional textile economy, development of a nature park, energy or development of an urban quarter (see, e. g., Pregernig et al. 2018, Parodi et al. 2018, Singer-Brodowski et al. 2018, all in this issue). Accordingly, there was no reason to cover missing topics through accompanying research.

K2--knowledge about processes taking place in the research program: This is knowledge produced by the accompanying research project about the processes of research and collaboration taking place within a program, about the effects of a program's set-up, about the impacts of a program, etc. That is, the research program itself is the object of investigation, and it is explored by the accompanying project (this corresponds to variant 3 by Fiedeler et al. 2010 (1)). The desire of funding agencies for this kind of knowledge is most often motivated by the novelty of the research format or the funding line, or by their wish to assess the impacts of a program. A funding agency may decide to fund research inquiring into such questions in order to improve its own research program(s) and/or in order to advance the scholarly debate about research. For an accompanying project producing this kind of knowledge to be successful, it must be conducted by scholars with a specialized expertise ("contributory expertise") in the respective field of science studies. It might ease communication if these scholars are able to talk interestingly with the other researchers in the program about the program's topic and ask pertinent questions about their fields of investigation (called "interactional expertise" by Collins and Evans 2002), but this is not a necessity. The Ba Wu Labs have in common that they are RwLs. Accordingly, the accompanying research produces knowledge about this research format. Project A, for example, produces knowledge about characteristics of, and best practices in, RwLs (desk research, see Schapke et al. 2018, in this issue) and asks the BaWti Labs about conditions of success and the methods they apply (survey), while project B investigates the integration of knowledge of non-academic actors in the Ba Wu Labs work (group discussions).

K3--integrated knowledge either about the topic of the research program or about processes taking place in the program: This is knowledge collaboratively produced by the accompanying research project and/or the other projects funded within a research program in the course of a continuous and systematic process of integration (this is not covered by Fiedeler et al. 2010 (1)). If a funding agency wants the projects funded in a program, although they are not designed to collaboratively produce integrated results, to develop shared answers to the overarching questions of the program, it may decide to fund a project facilitating inter- or transdisciplinary integration. The goal of such a project is to unlock synergies in a program and to moderate the development of integrated results despite the different foci and approaches (to achieve, e.g., integrated knowledge about sustainable consumption, see Defila et al. 2014). For such a project to be successful, the scholars in charge must be experts in designing and supporting the inter- and trans-disciplinary processes of consensus and integration (Defila and Di Giulio 2017). The research questions informing both the integration and the envisaged products have to be collaboratively defined, that is, a process of co-design leading to shared goals and questions has to take place. Depending on the result of this process and/or depending on whether a program is defined by a topic or by a format, the integrated knowledge produced can relate either to this topic or to the processes taking place in the program. The accompanying project will entirely unfold its potential if the scholars in charge do provide own contributions to the synthesis. Therefore the accompanying research project should be conducted by scholars with an expertise also either in the field of the program's topic or in the field of science studies (preferably "contributory expertise", at least "interactional expertise"). In the Ba Wu Lab program, integrated knowledge is produced primarily by project B (box 1, p. 102), and it relates to the research format (e. g., favourable conditions for RwLs by funding agencies, suitable methods to conduct RwLs).

Relationship to the Actors: What Is the Special Relationship to the Other Projects (and the Funding Agency)?

Accompanying research projects have a special status in a research program, because the process leading to their funding is not the same as with the other projects and, far more important, because their goal is always defined in relation to the other projects (primary relationship). Funding agencies have, regardless of the kind of knowledge they want them to produce, special expectations on accompanying projects. And from a social perspective, an accompanying project adds an actor to the 'usual staff' of a program. It thus impacts the relationship between project and funding agency both researchers and funding agencies are used to. Thus, the relationship to the funding agency has to be looked at as well, although it is not the primary relationship.

Relationship to the Other Projects

The nature of the relationship between the accompanying research project and the other projects depends on the kind of knowledge the former is meant to produce:

R1--no special interaction: An accompanying research project producing knowledge K1 without using data/results produced by the other projects in a program is, properly speaking, simply another project funded as part of the program and runs parallel to the other projects. Accordingly, there is no special interaction between the accompanying researchers and the other researchers.

R2--use of data/results of the projects: An accompanying research project producing knowledge K1 by using data/results of the other projects in a program is dependent on them providing data/results, while these do not directly benefit from the fact that there is an accompanying project. This causes a fragile relationship because the dependency of the accompanying project goes along with the danger of the accompanying researchers distinguishing themselves with data/results produced by the other researchers in the program and at the expense of them. The accompanying project must thus give special care to avoid any kind of real or perceived exploitation. Otherwise it will probably not get the data/results needed in sufficient quality. That is, projects should not be obliged to provide data/results serving no other purpose than answering the research questions of the accompanying project, and the latter should not generate any obligations for projects in terms of theory or methods to adopt.

R3--projects are object of research: If an accompanying research project produces process knowledge K2 the other projects in a program are its object of investigation (this is less pronounced if the accompanying research investigates the impacts of a program after its completion). The relationship created by this constellation is shaped, firstly, by dependency and, at the same time, unequal distribution of power: the accompanying project cannot conduct its research without the consent of the other projects, and these in turn become at least to a certain degree the object of investigation, regardless of whether they like it or not. Secondly, it is shaped by a high degree of disparity in terms of knowledge about internal affairs: the accompanying researchers get to know a lot about the other projects but not vice versa. In order not to jeopardize the relationship, the accompanying researchers must observe the principle of informed consent and preserve the anonymity of respondents, they must allow the other projects to decline participation (in whole or in part), and they must treat every information about the other projects as strictly confidential.

R4--setting the stage for the projects' collaboration: An accompanying research project can encourage the production of integrated knowledge K3 by facilitating and supporting the collaboration of the other projects in a program without providing own substantial contributions to the integrated knowledge that is developed. The accompanying project provides the stage for the other projects to collaborate. In such a constellation, the accompanying researchers can neither guarantee knowledge K3 is at all produced nor its quality, and this carries the risk of frustration and disappointment with all those involved. It is therefore crucial that the accompanying researchers ensure the process's inter- or trans-disciplinary quality both by adopting a sound methodical approach in its design and by applying appropriate quality management measures. Furthermore, they have to make sure the expectations with regard to the knowledge produced are adapted to the possibilities and limitations of the other researchers in the program.

R5--collaboration with the projects: An accompanying research project producing knowledge K3 by not only designing and supporting the inter- or transdisciplinary production of integrated knowledge in a program but by also providing own contributions to it establishes an integration-oriented collaboration with the other projects. The accompanying researchers assume the role of those traditionally in charge of managing inter- and transdisciplinary processes in projects or project groups, but on the level of a program as a whole. The accompanying researchers and the other researchers become part of the same process they are co-creating and co-experiencing. They have to collaborate, and they have to do so on an equal footing, but at the same time neither the accompanying researchers nor the other researchers chose each other as collaborating partner. The partnership has features of an arranged marriage. To make it work, it is crucial that the other researchers derive benefit from the activities of the accompanying project, and that the accompanying researchers do not try to impose anything on the other projects. In other words: the collaboration has to follow the same rules and to meet the same criteria like any inter- or transdisciplinary research.

In the BaWu Lab program, the relationships R1 and R2 apply to neither of the accompanying projects, the relationships R3 and R4 in turn apply to both accompanying projects, although R3 primarily to project A and R4 more to project B, and the relationship R5 finally applies only to project B.

Relationship to the Funding Agency

An accompanying project has a special relationship not only to the other projects in a program, but also to the funding agency. This relationship is shaped by a number of potential areas of tension, especially with regard to accompanying research producing process (K2) and/or integrated (K3) knowledge. These areas of tension might lead to conflicts if they are not continuously discussed and negotiated:

* A funding agency might have a specific interest and/or specific questions it would like the accompanying research project to investigate, and these are not necessarily identical to the research interests of the accompanying researchers.

* A funding agency might have the desire to be informed about what is going on in the funded projects by the accompanying project, while the accompanying researchers are bound to confidentiality with regard to information about internal processes in the projects.

* A funding agency might be used to be in control of what happens in a program it is funding, but if it funds an accompanying project it has to hand over control at least to some extent to the accompanying researchers who must be able to design the processes without having to consult the funding agency.

* A funding agency might be used to fund projects with clearly delineated goals, questions and designs, while the accompanying researchers at least to some extent necessitate an open-ended process because details of project design depend on the process of co-design with the other projects.

* A funding agency might be used to negotiate with each of the funded projects individually, and this might be counteracted by the projects partnering due to the activities of the accompanying researchers.

Process-Related Tasks: What Additional Tasks Can Be Incorporated?

According to our experiences an accompanying project aimed at knowledge K2 (processes) or K3 (integrated) is not confined to research, that is, it can (and usually does) assume additional tasks related to the processes in a program. Thus, the last element determining the added value and the success factors of accompanying research to research programs is the question about the tasks that can be combined with such projects (in the next section we will adopt the opposite perspective and explain why accompanying projects should not be given the task of evaluation).

Supporting Dissemination on the Level of the Program

A funding agency might wish a program as a whole (and not only the single projects) to generate some kind of impact and/or to be perceived by the scientific community and/or the broad public. To this end, it might want to assign an accompanying project the additional task of supporting diffusion and thus the visibility and possibly the impact of the program (this corresponds to the variants 6, 8 and 9, and possibly 7, by Fiedeler et al. 2010 (1)).

In the accompanying research to the BaWti Lab program this is one of the tasks fulfilled primarily by project A, for instance, by editing this special issue of GAIA, by organising opportunities for the Ba Wu Labs to exchange with scholars from outside the program, or by organising a track session at an international conference.

Coaching/Consulting the Other Projects (and/or the Funding Agency)

Especially in cases where the research format in a research program is new or at least unusual and requires a specific and not wide-spread expertise the researchers may profit from mutual learning and from getting direct and tailored professional coaching and consulting. At the same time, it is unusual for researchers to seek for help or even to share their problems and fears of failure with other researchers. A funding agency supposing that the researchers in conducting their projects will face challenges new to them and that they therefore could benefit from mutual learning and professional coaching/consulting is well-advised to provide for a low-threshold supply of opportunities to cover such requirements. This contributes to the quality of the research processes in a program, helps preventing underperformance of projects, and supports the transmission of procedural knowledge in the scientific community. One easy way to make this service available to researchers is to entrust an accompanying research project with the additional task of facilitating systematic mutual learning and offering individual coaching/consulting (Fiedeler et al. 2010 (1) do not cover this). An accompanying project can, of course, also be assigned the task of consulting the funding agency.

An inter- or transdisciplinary approach is not yet mainstream, and the challenges researchers face in such research are unabatedly demanding. The format of (transdisciplinary and transformative) RwLs in turn is not only challenging and demanding, it is also new, that is, there are only few experiences researchers can draw on in mastering the challenges they face. Therefore, the researchers in the Ba Wu Lab program could benefit from the possibility of receiving this kind of support. Coaching/consulting of the Ba Wu Labs and facilitating mutual learning on a regular basis is one of the tasks fulfilled primarily by project B.

Because providing researchers in a program with the opportunity of obtaining this kind of support still is unusual, we will briefly present how we implement this task in the Ba Wu Lab program and how it is received by the researchers. The task is implemented in part by supporting mutual learning and reflection in the format "discussion forum" (box 1, p. 102), and in part by offering individualized demand-actuated coaching/consulting.

At the end of each workshop of the "discussion forum" we ask participants among others what messages they take home (anonymous answers on cards). The analysis of the answers shows what kind of benefit participants derive from the opportunity to exchange in these workshops:

* They realize that they face similar challenges in implementing the format of RwLs. Knowing not to be the only project struggling with certain questions is, firstly, comforting. Secondly, discussing (dis)advantages of solutions tried out in another project, inspires their own work, and it encourages to try out something new. Thirdly, discussing actual, emerging or future problems in the group leads to solutions a project might not have found all by itself.

* The in-depth comparison of approaches and experiences allows for a joint reflection on the format of RwLs and on how to improve its implementation, and it leads to shared insights about this format.

* The structured, methodical reflection on their own daily business and the insights in approaches of others facilitates learning and widens their own horizon.

* They obtain impulses for their future work because they learn what the other projects and researchers are doing, and this in turn is a fertile soil for identifying joint activities and future collaborations.

In their last workshop, the participants of the Ba Wu Labs in the first funding line pointed out the importance of confidentiality, and they stressed the importance of documenting the discussions so that they can be accessed later.

Until writing this paper, nine out of the 14 projects already made use of the offer to obtain individualized professional coaching/consulting at least once. Most wished us to design and moderate a workshop allowing them to reflect about the strengths, weaknesses, and achievements of the inter- and transdisciplinary work in their Ba Wu Lab in general, about specific challenges lying ahead, about how to proceed in their process of knowledge integration, or about how to plan future work and continuation of their Ba Wu Lab. Others asked for an input in one of their own events or educational offerings, for feedback to concepts for continuation, or for support in settling a conflict.

Mission Impossible: Accompanying Research Cannot Assume the Task of Evaluation

Accompanying research projects aimed at knowledge K2 (processes) gain rather intimate insights into the processes and problems of the other projects in a program; the same is true, at least to some extent, to those aiming at knowledge K3 (integrated). This applies even more if an accompanying project comprises the additional task of coaching/consulting. It goes without saying that the accompanying researchers have to treat information they get in their inquiries and in their collaboration with the projects confidentially and that they must not violate the anonymity of respondents under any circumstances (according to the ethical rules of social research). It goes without saying as well that no details regarding internal affairs of projects gained in the context of coaching/consulting activities are to be conveyed to third parties including the funding agency and its bodies (this is, by the way, 'bidirectional': no details accompanying researchers get to know about the funding agency must be conveyed to the projects). Trust and confidentiality are the very bases of basically all relationships between an accompanying project and the other projects.

This sums up to the conclusion that the tasks of an accompanying research project and the task of evaluating the projects in a program on behalf of the funding agency (or of providing information about the projects for the purpose of evaluation) must be kept strictly apart. Assigning such a task to an accompanying project would inevitably lead to a conflict of roles and compromise its success and professionalism. Accompanying research and evaluation should be treated as mutually exclusive activities.

What an accompanying project can do, however, is to take responsibility for developing criteria and procedures suited to evaluate the projects in a program. It is, of course, also possible that an accompanying research project aimed at knowledge K2 (processes) investigates the processes of evaluation in a program (see, e. g., Koier and Horlings 2015), because this does not include assessing the projects. With regard to the latter, attention should be paid that such research does not lead to an evaluation of the work of review panels or the funding agency. (2)

In the Ba Wu Lab program, the accompanying research project B has assumed the additional task of designing and implementing the participative development of criteria to evaluate the Ba-Wu Labs, involving both the reviewers and the Ba Wu Labs. The results of the accompanying project A about the conditions of success perceived to be important by the Ba Wu Labs (survey) fed into this process as well.

Three Types of Accompanying Research

The elements of accompanying research presented above, "research", "relationship to the actors", and "process-related tasks", can be combined to three types of accompanying research to research programs (see also Defila and Di Giulio 2016) (table 2):

* complementary type complementing the program (type 1),

* meta type inquiring into the processes taking place (type 2),

* integration-oriented type facilitating integration (type 3).

These three types can be distinguished from an analytical point of view. Actual accompanying research projects will, as a rule, rarely show one of these types in its pure form, but combine elements of more than one type. This applies also to the accompanying projects to the Ba Wu Lab program, as has been shown above.

Distinguishing these types of accompanying research and considering the corresponding relationships to the other projects could ease a funding agency's planning in terms of schedule and allocation of resources:

Depending on the type of accompanying research a funding agency cannot decide in advance whether it wants to fund such research and/or cannot put it into practice right from the beginning of a program. This applies to type 1 accompanying research. A funding agency cannot decide upon type 1 before it knows which projects will be funded and has assessed whether this leads to a research gap that necessarily has to be closed in order to achieve the program's goals. This applies also to type 2 accompanying research, if such research shall investigate the impacts of a research program, because this cannot be seriously done before completion of the program.

Depending on the type of accompanying research a funding agency has to decide in advance whether it wants to fund such research and should put it into practice right from the beginning of a program. This applies to type 3 accompanying research. This type is especially demanding for the other projects in terms of resources. If projects are expected to participate in integration-oriented activities of an accompanying project, this should be clearly communicated in the call for projects. Moreover, their efforts should either mirror in their own budget, or the accompanying project must be equipped with a budget high enough to at least partly remunerate this effort (this does not, of course, release the accompanying project from individually negotiating each projects' contribution to the single activities of the accompanying project in terms of content, form, and scope). This is also the case if a funding agency envisages a type 2 accompanying research inquiring into ongoing processes. Obviously because such processes are investigated best while they take place (although past processes can, at least to a certain extent, also be investigated, as has been done, e.g., by Lange and Fuest 2016). But also, because this type implies some kind of mandatory participation of the projects in empirical studies of the accompanying project, and this should be clearly communicated in the call for projects. Furthermore, if projects are coerced into spending time to provide documents, participate in surveys and interviews, document their processes, or similar, the amount of resources asked from them for this purpose has to be negotiated, and extraordinary efforts must be remunerated.

Finally, if a funding agency decides for a type 3 accompanying research, it is advisable that this project starts at the same time but runs longer than the other projects in the program to allow for completion of the work of integration, because, as a rule, synthesis building on the level of a program seldom is completed contemporaneously with completion of the funded projects.


A funding agency envisaging to fund accompanying research must not only define the type of accompanying research it wants to fund, it also has to decide whether it wants such a project to take over additional tasks, and if so, which ones. In the case of inter-or transdisciplinary research, RwLs or another challenging format of research, coaching/consulting should be seriously considered as additional task for accompanying research type 3 (or 2) while the task of evaluation should be excluded for any type of accompanying research. A funding agency may even fund, as the Ba Wu Lab program shows, two (or even more?) accompanying projects. If so, it has to make sure both that they are complementary and that their approaches are compatible--and it has to set aside funds to support their coordination.

Accompanying research to research programs is not only costly in terms of money and time, but also in terms of the effort all involved have to lay out in engaging in a process of defining their roles, negotiating their relationships, and adapting their routines and practices to integrate the additional actor accompanying project. Especially for types 2 and 3 trust is an essential condition for accompanying projects to be successful, and this implies a high level of transparency and reliability with regard to roles and relationships. This is confirmed in the Ba Wu Lab program: right at the start, the Ba Wu Labs were asked about their worries regarding the accompanying research. One major worry was that the accompanying research might cause a high but not estimable amount of extra work, the other worry was whether it would be possible to really keep separate the role of accompanying research and of evaluation.

Negotiations about how to organize the interactions between the accompanying project, the other projects, and the funding agency should be informed by one fundamental principle right from the beginning: the independence of the accompanying project has to be ensured and preserved. This applies not only to its relation with the funding agency (and its bodies such as a review panel), but also to its relation with the other projects. The projects also may have un-answerable expectations towards the accompanying research, as again can be illustrated by the Ba Wu Lab program. Right at the start, the Ba Wu Labs were asked what they expect of the accompanying research, and some of the expectations voiced were not compatible with the independence of the accompanying projects (such as pleading their cause or actively solve problems with local authorities). Independence means that an accompanying research project is neither the long arm of the funding agency nor the mouthpiece of the projects, and that it does not act in place of one of them.

We are convinced that accompanying research to running research programs has an added value justifying the expenditure. In cases where innovative formats of research are funded, types 2 and 3 of accompanying research might even be a necessity (Wagner and Grunwald 2015). But to decide upon that the scientific debate about accompanying research should be intensified in order to augment its professionalization and provide all actors with a firm basis on which to decide and act. We hope, of course, our paper will stimulate the debate.

We thank the Federal State of Baden-Wurttemberg for funding our research, the members of the Ba Wu Lab teams and of the other accompanying research project (project A) for their feedback to a previous version of this paper (especially Matthias Bergmann, Felix M. Piontek, Regina Rhodius and Niko Schapke) as well as two anonymous reviewers for their most valuable contributions to improve the quality of this paper.


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Submitted July 23, 2017; revised version accepted January 26, 2018.

Rico Defila

Born 1964 in Biel, Switzerland. Studies in law, philosophy, computer science and general ecology at the University of Bern, attorney at law since 1991. Deputy leader of the Research Group Inter-/Transdisciplinarity and senior researcher at the Program MGU, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Basel, Switzerland. Research interests: inter- and transdisciplinary research and teaching, organization of interdisciplinary academic units, good life and sustainable consumption.

Antonietta Di Giulio

Born 1965 in Crenchen, Switzerland. Studies in philosophy at the Universities of Freiburg i. Ue. and Bern, PhD in 2003. Leader of the Research Group lnter-/Transdisciplinarity and senior researcher at the Program MGU, Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Basel, Switzerland. Research interests: inter- and transdisciplinary research and teaching, education for sustainable development, good life and sustainable consumption.

Rico Defila, Antonietta Di Giulio

Contact: Ftirspr.Rico Defila | E-Mail:

Dr. Antonietta Di Giulio | E-Mail:

both: University of Basel | Program Man-Society-Environment | Vesalgasse 1 | 4051 Basel | Switzerland

BOX 1: Facilitating Dialogue and Integration by the "Discussion Forum"

A"discussion forum" ("Diskussionsforum") is the format implemented to allow for collaboration as well as networking and exchange of experiences in the Ba Wu Lab program. This format serves the dual purpose of generating integrated knowledge K3 and encouraging reflection and mutual learning. Every approximatively nine months three to five members of each Ba Wu Lab meet for a two-day workshop (hosted by one of the Ba Wu Labs). The accompanying researchers of project B design, moderate and document the workshops. In designing them, already established dialogue methods are applied or new ones are developed, and the criteria for integration-oriented inter- or transdisciplinary workshops are observed (Defila and Di Giulio 2015). The topics to be discussed are collaboratively determined some few weeks before a workshop takes place. Topics showing a high potential of leading to integrated results are chosen and arranged in such a way that over time the discussions lead to a synthesis, whereas those serving primarily the purpose of reflection and mutual learning are, as a rule, discussed just once. Until writing this paper six workshops took place (all four scheduled for the Ba Wu Labs in the first funding line, and two out of four for those in the second funding line).

(1) These nine variants are: 1. environmental and health-related effects, security aspects, 2. ethical, legal, and social issues, 3. aspects related to the theory of science and cultural sociology, 4. technology assessment, 5. perception of risks, communication of risks, 6. information and communication projects, 7. the application of technology, 8. education, 9. networking activities.
TABLE 1: Accompanying research projects to the BaWu Lab program (2015
to 2019).

         PROJECT A                        PROJECT B
         ForReal--Accompanying,           Linking, Understanding,
         Systematizing, and Transferring  Continuing Real-World
         Research in Real-World           Laboratories (b)
         Laboratories (a)

lead by  Daniel J. Lang                   Rico Defila, Antonietta
         (Leuphana University             Di Giulio (University
         of Luneburg)                     of Basel)
focus    * desk research about            * collaborative development
           RwLs                             of integrated results by
         * survey among the                 and with the BaWu Labs
           BaWu Labs                      * facilitating systematic
         * offering opportunities for       dialogue and mutual
           the BaWu Labs to                 learning among the BaWu Labs
           exchange with                  * supporting the single
           scholars experienced in          BaWu Labs by offering
           conducting similar projects      individual coaching and

(a) German title: Forschung in Reallaboren begleiten, systematisieren
und transferieren (ForReal) | (b) German title: Reallabore vernetzen,
verstehen, verstetigen

TABLE 2: Three types of accompanying research to research programs.

                         TYPE 1: COMPLEMENTARY       TYPE 2: META TYPE

RESEARCH:                K1--knowledge about         K2--knowledge about
What kind of             the topic of                processes taking
scientific knowledge is  the research program        place in the
produced?                                            research program

RELATIONSHIP             R1--no special interaction  R3--projects are
TO THE ACTORS:           R2--use of data/results     object of research
What is the              of the projects
special relationship to
the other projects?
PROCESS-RELATED TASKS:   no additional tasks         supporting
What additional tasks                                dissemination
can be incorporated?                                 (coaching

                          TYPE 3: INTEGRATION-ORIENTED TYPE

RESEARCH:                 K3--integrated knowledge
What kind of              either about the
scientific knowledge is   topic of the
produced?                 research program or about
                          processes taking place
                          in the program
RELATIONSHIP              R4--setting the
TO THE ACTORS:            stage for the projects'
What is the               collaboration
special relationship to   R5--collaboration with
the other projects?       the projects
PROCESS-RELATED TASKS:    supporting dissemination
What additional tasks     coaching/consulting
can be incorporated?
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Author:Defila, Rico; Di Giulio, Antonietta
Publication:GAIA - Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2018
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