Methodologies for Creative Practitioner Researchers

If you need help with designing your research project methodology or choosing the right research method or tools then you will definitely want to spend a little time exploring this collection of scholarly resources. Curated especially for creative practitioners and practice-led researchers working in media, fine arts and the humanities, here you will find a variety of excellent scholarly resources, from full-text ebooks to open access journals, individual projects, databases, research guides, learning tools and more.

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SAGE Research Methods: Find resources to answer your research methods and statistics questions.

Search and browse books, dictionaries, encyclopedia, video, journal articles, cases and datasets on research methods to help you learn and conduct projects.

Methods Map

Check out this fun tool created by a the people at the PhD Blog.

For no apparent reason, research philosophy tends to send dissertation students into a mild panic. The befuddlement caused by a range of new terminology relating to the philosophy of knowledge is unnecessary when all that you are trying to achieve is some clarity over the status of any knowledge claims you make in your study. The Methods Map offers a guide to the standard philosophical positions required to specify the particular form of research you plan to undertake. Collectively, these positions will define what we refer to as a research paradigm.

Mapping Research Methods (PDF Download Available). Available from: [accessed Oct 13 2017].

Practice-led Research Research-led Practice in the Creative Arts (Full Text)

This book addresses an issue of vital importance to contemporary practitioners in the creative arts: the role and significance of creative work within the university environment and its relationship to research practices. The turn to creative practice is one of the most exciting and revolutionary developments to occur in the university within the last two decades and is currently accelerating in influence. It is bringing with it dynamic new ways of thinking about research and new methodologies for conducting it, a raised awareness of the different kinds of knowledge that creative practice can convey and an illuminating body of information about the creative process. As higher education become more accepting of creative work and its existing and potential relationships to research, we also see changes in the formation of university departments, in the way conferences are conducted, and in styles of academic writing and modes of evaluation.

Narrative writing: reflective enquiry into professional practice

An effective mode of reflective practice and reflexivity is through personal professional narrative and story exploration. All professional and personal experience is naturally storied; telling or writing stories are prime human ways of understanding, communicating and remembering. Narratives of vital or key areas of professional experience can be communicated and explored directly and simply through expressive writing. These might be expressed fictionally; each story stands metonymically for that clinician’s practice. Uncritically accepted metaphors, with deep impact upon practice and experience, can also be noticed and evaluated. This article offers a richly exemplified argument for how confidential, carefully facilitated groups of professionals can be supported critically, yet gently examining their own and others’ practice, through written narrative and poetry. Implicit ethics and values can be perceived and enquired into, and professional identity and boundaries unthreateningly questioned and even challenged. Practitioners can gain greater observational powers and sense of authority over their work, and more of a grasp of its inherently complex political, social and cultural impact.

NRMC UK Resource Collection

NCRM has many online resources that are intended to help people interested in social science research methods. Here is a selection of the current NCRM resources.

Creative Research Methods

An AHRC-funded skills development project organised by researchers at Birmingham Institute of Art & Design (Birmingham City University) and Communication and Media Research Institute (University of Westminster).

Art Practice As Research

This is the website for an MA programme in art and media practice at the University of Westminster. It contains dozens of excellent resources on artistic practice as research and provides question prompts and related content links for all resources listed.

Creative Practice as Research

Practice-related research, or action research, is a tried and tested methodology in medicine, design, and engineering. While it has always been present to some extent in the arts and humanities, in recent years artistic practice has developed into a major focus of research activity, both as process and product, and several recent texts as well as discourse in various disciplines have made a strong case for its validity as a method of studying art and the practice of art. As creative practice expands as a field of academic research, there is a need to establish an ongoing discourse on and resource for appropriate practice-based methodologies.

Art, literary, music, and film analysts examine, dissect, and even deconstruct the art that we create in order to seek the roots of culture and humanity, pulling the techniques and references and motivations apart to develop knowledge of how works of art relate to the culture and society in which they are produced, as well as to the development of particular art forms over time. Practice-related researchers push this examination into a more direct and intimate sphere, observing and analysing themselves as they engage in the act of creation, rather than relying solely on dissection of the art after the fact. And just as science has exposed and increased our wonder about our world, direct study of the self as an artist at work and the practice of art in cultural and social contexts can bring us closer to our selves and our communities.

Action Research and Reflective Practice (Full Text)

In Action Research and Reflective Practice, Paul McIntosh argues that
reflective practice and action research can become mechanistic in their
use unless fresh creative approaches are employed. Exploring the tension
between the use of evidence-based practice, based upon solid ‘objective’
research, and reflection, with its ‘subjectivity’ and personal perception, this
book argues that reflection is research. McIntosh increases the prevalence
and effectiveness of both action research and reflection through the
application of new creative and visual approaches.

Action Research and Reflective Practice demonstrates that creative
approaches can be utilised effectively in critically reflexive ways, creating
a new style of action research that is both innovative and theoretically
robust. The resulting approach will improve evidence-based research in
education, health care and other social sciences to enhance perception
and understanding of events, identity and self. This book will be highly
beneficial to undergraduate and postgraduate students, as well as educational and social researchers, across a broad range of subjects within
the social sciences.

Text journal special issue: Creative and practice-led research: current status, future plans

TEXT Special Issue No 8 October 2010.
There are many burning issues facing the higher education sector in relation to creative and practice-led research. Dennis Strand’s influential report, Research in the Creative Arts (1998), identified the conditions as they then were, and made a number of proposals and projections for the future. At the time that the Strand report was published, few staff in the creative arts held postgraduate degrees, and only 3.9% of research higher degrees students in Australia were working in the creative arts (Strand 1998, xiv); many of those would have been conducting conventional humanities or social science projects. This has changed radically, with increasing numbers of staff holding doctoral level degrees, and with greatly increased demand for research higher degree places in creative practice. This rich environment brings with it commensurate pressures: to develop the appropriate language for this research paradigm; to provide supervisors with skills in the specifics of working with creative practitioners as researchers; to build a national community of researchers at both student and supervisor level; and to provide the best possible environment in which students can generate knowledge relevant to the field and to add social capital.

Diagrammatic Thinking: A practice-led research zine

This zine was co-produced by attendees at the University of Leeds Practice-Led PhD symposium hosted by School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies and the School of Design. This symposium posed the question “are there alternatives to ‘talking’ about research?” This question invited experimental modes of presentation and creative modes of exchange and dissemination in a bid to move away from more traditional academic formats.


Methods@Manchester is an initiative funded by the Faculty of Humanities, University of Manchester. This resource showcases a broad range of methodologies and provides detailed explanation and resources for further research on each.

Learning Qualitative Data Analysis

Online QDA is a set of learning materials which address common issues of undertaking qualitative data analysis (QDA). Materials consist of text pages outlining issues and aspects of analysis and the approaches and theories found in qualitative research along with tutorials with audio and video materials. The Intro section explains how the information and tutorials are arranged and makes some suggestions about how to use this site.

Research Methodologies for the Creative Arts and Humanities

Welcome to our exploratory Guide to research methodology resources. It is aimed at post-graduate researchers in the creative arts and humanities and highlights current online full text resources. The methodologies used in the sciences, the social sciences and education are not emphasised here, since they are already well covered elsewhere. They might, though, be applicable for some aspects of your research.

Gray and Malins (1993) have observed: "There is no one universally accepted methodological approach to research within the arts. Methodologies associated with creative practice as research may move beyond traditional approaches to research, inclusive of the ongoing reflexive nature associated with the discipline/s. Through the methodologies and because of multiple shifts of interpretive paradigms in the creative arts, there could be a difference, creating tensionings, between the creative and reflective outcomes within the practice. Practice as research is identified as a 'generating' instrument. Research methods and processes are tailored to respond to practice and practice to research, continually re-orienting it to refine the research question through reflexive processes." (see Research procedures/methodologies for artists and designers )

The decision as to which methodology to adopt should not normally delay a research effort, especially writing activity, as the writing process focusses our reflections and helps crystallise what methods are intrinsically best for our own research journey. Often a key work by another which serves as a departure point for ones own research, will bring with it a research method for modelling, re-modelling or major adaptive change. Many research methodologies are of this organic type and cannot be easily categorised in a Guide such as this, though of course the researcher/writer employing them is bound to explicate them in the body of their work. Discussion with your supervisor is the best way to decide on your research methodology.

Action Research Resources

Action research is a flexible spiral process which allows action (change, improvement) and research (understanding, knowledge) to be achieved at the same time. The understanding allows more informed change and at the same time is informed by that change. People affected by the change are usually involved in the action research. This allows the understanding to be widely shared and the change to be pursued with commitment.

The Practice of Research

A Methodology for Practice-Based Research in the Creative Arts

Ethnography Matters - Methods

Ethnography Matters is a space to talk about the blurring boundaries of our craft, where we can gain insight, advice and inspiration from those who are defining what high quality, accessible and innovative research might look like in a future that is increasingly mediated by technology.

What is grounded theory?

A great introduction to the topic and resource on various aspects of doing grounded theory.

Qualitative Methods Podcasts

Here is a series of ten podcasts introducing how to undertake Qualitative Methods. This series was supported by the Higher Education Academy.

National Centre for Research Methods (UK) - Podcast series and text resources

In 2004 the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) set up the National Centre for Research Methods (NCRM) at the University of Southampton. NCRM was tasked to increase the quality and range of methodological approaches used by UK social scientists through a programme of training and capacity building, and with driving forward methodological development and innovation through its own research programme.

Give Methods a Chance - Podcast Series

The Society Pages (TSP) is an open-access social science project headquartered in the Department of Sociology at the University of Minnesota and Give Methods a Chance, a podcast devoted to research methods in practice. Listen to top scholars introduce a multitude of approaches to answer important questions and share stories about their experiences studying the social world. Designed for students, scholars, and society.

The Journal for Artistic Research (JAR)

The Journal for Artistic Research (JAR) is an inter-national, online, Open Access and peer-reviewed journal for the identification, publication and dissemination of artistic research and its methodologies, from all arts disciplines. With the aim of displaying practice in a manner that respects artists' modes of presentation, JAR abandons the traditional journal article format and offers its contributors a dynamic online canvas where text can be woven together with image, audio and video. These research documents called ‘expositions’ provide a unique reading experience while fulfilling the expectations of scholarly dissemination.

Academic research and artistic practice in Chain Reaction: Methodology on Two Levels

This article describes the ways in which an academic method of research was combined with an artistic method in the production of Chain Reaction, a creative project developed by the author as part of her PhD program, using the methodology of practice-based research. The article describes the research design, and displays the negotiation between two different questions throughout the project—artistic and academic—by analysing two significant moments: devising artistic work with collaborators and working with theory. It is then argued that the cooperation between artistic practice and academic research enriches each field while simultaneously creating a strong form of cultural practice with both aesthetic and epistemological elements.

Creative Research: The Theory and Practice of Research for the Creative Industries

Available via SAE library.

This book is designed to lead you through the key knowledge, practices and skills of research methods in the study of design management and focuses on defining the research problem, deciding on a research process and undertaking a research project as a student at undergraduate or postgraduate level or as a practitioner within the creative fields. The book begins with an overview of the field of research within the context of the creative industries, and then goes into detail on the stages involved in undertaking a research project within this field. You will be introduced to a range of philosophical assumptions upon which your research can be based and the implications of these assumptions on the method or methods that you choose. In addition to this, techniques and procedures for collecting and analyzing different types of data are examined and analyzed in detail.   Each topic is accompanied by a main text with visuals outlining the key issues and debates. The topics are accompanied by key word definitions and explanations, plus references to key texts for further reading. Questions are also identified to get the reader thinking about the issues raised, to confront expectations and to make informed choices. Interviews with leading practitioners and academics give insight on current debates on research practice. The skills necessary to promote the effectiveness and validity of research within the creative industries are highlighted in case studies, all of which also demonstrate what a well-designed research project can achieve.