Practice-based research

  • Projects

In 2021 I was teaching a class about practice-based research and wanted a straightforward explanation of what it is, so I wrote one: ‘What is Practice-based Research?‘.

That led me to then consider, ‘Do *I* do practice-based research?‘. At that point, I hadn’t really thought that I do, but it turns out, I do.

Around that time we were launching a new practice-based PhD program at The Creative School, Toronto Metropolitan University, which it has been a joy to teach on ever since.

A year later I wanted an even more compact and straightforward explanation, for the new students, so I wrote ‘Practice-based research: A simple explainer‘.

In early 2024, I wrote down some new thoughts and observations, ‘Practice-based Research – Some new principles‘, plus an extended discussion of ‘A practice-based PhD as a basket of things‘.

Then I added ‘Practice-based research is for imagining and exploring‘, which explains:

Other methods can describe what already is. Practice‑based methods are for exploring what could be.

And I collaborated with the brilliant PhD students Justine Woods and Francisco-Fernando Granados, to produce an article called ‘Reframing, embodying, and in-betweening: A conversation about experiences of doing practice-based research and research-creation‘. As it says in the title, it’s a conversation – about experiences of doing practice-based research – between the three of us, and therefore is hopefully readable and engaging.

You can read a number of other articles about being a researcher filed under ‘Research practice‘, and also, related to practice-based research, there’s this post from 2015: ‘Research Through Design reflected in LEGO‘.

My new book ‘Creativity‘ (2022) is not a book about practice-based research, exactly, but at one point the book explains itself, improbably enough, as ‘a practice-based approach to practice’. It says:

But I also think – and I’m sure this must be right – that you should learn about creativity and creative processes by paying full and thoughtful attention to creative processes, which are abundant, and creative people, which, by the way, is everybody, although we’ve all taken different opportunities to express it.

It’s about listening – really listening – to creative people, and listening – really listening – to your own creativity. And this book is all about finding ways to think about doing creativity which will help with the actual doing. A practice-based approach to practice, based in the experiences of creative people doing creativity.