Metaphors for reflecting on research practice: researching with people

McClintock, David; Ison, Raymond and Armson, Rosalind (2003). Metaphors for reflecting on research practice: researching with people. Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, 46(5) pp. 715–731.



There are renewed demands for transparency and stakeholder participation in environmental planning and management. Research is a generic form of practice common to many professions. Appreciating the position of the researcher and reflecting on research practice can enhance its transparency. The case is presented for considering underlying metaphors as a way of making understandings explicit, transparent and structured, so as to enhance reflection on research practice. Metaphors can be explored, either individually or jointly, and learning opportunities can come from the exploration and awareness of alternative metaphors. Four metaphors have been chosen to reflect on research practice: research-as-action, research-as-narrative, research-as-facilitation and research-as-responsible. These metaphors define various roles relevant to researching with people and seem powerful ways of discussing what researching or planning with people might entail, and how to include the position of the researcher/planner in reflective practice. Whilst the primary concern is with research practice, the arguments might equally apply to other forms of practice such as planning, managing, advising or regulating.

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