Theme 4, Session 29 Context Published: Learning From Experiences

Theme 4: Enabling Research in Global Transformation
Session 29: Publishing Transdisciplinary Research
Theme 4, Session 29
How to Get Transdisciplinary Work in a North–South
­Context Published: Learning From Experiences
Anne Zimmermann1, Susanne Wymann von Dach1, Christian Erik Pohl2,3
Centre for Development and Environment (CDE), University of Bern, Switzerland
([email protected], [email protected]), 2Institute for
Environmental Decisions, Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ),
Zurich, Switzerland ([email protected]), 3td-net, Swiss Academies of Arts and
Sciences, Bern, Switzerland
Science is increasingly confronted with the demand that it contribute to innovation and
societal development and thus to reaching a public beyond the science community (ICSU
and ISSC 2010). Scientific publishing is considered an essential means of validating and
communicating research results and is the system upon which new research is based and
academic careers are built. Its rules are still based on fairly closed disciplinary debates
and on knowledge exchange within the academic community.
Transdisciplinary (TD) research – that is, research that deals with complex life-world
problems by integrating knowledge of non-academic stakeholders and different disciplines – explicitly addresses societal development and the challenge of communicating
beyond the science community (Pohl et al 2007). At the same time, it is bound to fulfilling the essentially disciplinary rules of scientific publishing, which often exclude work
of this kind. This places TD researchers in a double bind. Moreover, in a North–South
context, an additional difficulty arises: scientific publishing rules have been defined in
the North, making it difficult for many authors from the South to access this means of
validating their work (Canagarajah 2010). Here, we can speak of a possible triple bind
that challenges authors and reviewers of transdisciplinary research in a North–South
context, as well as editors of scientific journals who try to develop an enhanced “publication culture” in transdisciplinary research (Kueffer et al 2007).
This working session will bring together authors, reviewers, and journal editors. The
discussion will be triggered by three presentations and the results of a survey inquiring about the concerns faced by ICRD participants when publishing their developmentoriented research insights, and will focus on the following aspects:
• A
uthors’ and journal editors’ experiences with writing and submitting TD work, and
dealing with reviewing processes and policies,
• I deas about how to overcome stumbling blocks when publishing TD work in peerreviewed journals, and
• Enhanced review criteria for transdisciplinary work.
The overall aim is to build understanding of the challenges of publishing TD work and
come up with recommendations for the “Research Agenda” to be developed within the