Publishing Practice Research Effectively – a C21MP workshop

10:00 – 13:00 on Sunday 8th December 2019 at the University of West London

As a separate and complementary ‘add-on’ to the InMusic conference, the London College of Music, UWL is hosting a workshop by the 21st Century Music Practice (C21MP) research network on preparing Practice Research outputs for publication and dissemination. After consultation with the Practice Research in the Arts Group (PRAG-UK), the Royal Musical Association’s Music and/as Process group and the International Association for the Study of Popular Music’s UK & Ireland group, we have developed a proposed approach that involves the separate publication (on the  C21MP website) of supporting and contextualising materials to highlight and strengthen the ‘research-ness’ of practice research outputs. Attendance will be free to anyone (attending the InMusic conference or otherwise) but will be limited by the space we are able to book.

 Free tickets available at Eventbrite

The workshop will be chaired by Professor Simon Zagorski-Thomas and will work through examples of Practice Research portfolio publication and encourage participants to share details of their own good practice in this area. Further details will be found closer to the time on the page.

Although this workshop is not solely concerned with the forthcoming UK REF submission, our focus on the preparation, format and publication of practice research outputs will be highly relevant in that regard. At the June 2019 Royal Musical Association event at Leeds University – Good Practice in Practice Research – it was highlighted that many practice research publications are less than optimal than they could be in terms of the REF definition of research: “a process of investigation leading to new insights, effectively shared”. This poses four clear questions that need to be addressed.

  1. How clearly stated and important is the research question? This should be framed in terms of the new knowledge that the work (or works) is aiming to produce. This might be a technique or an approach but might also be a way of suggesting or encouraging a type of interpretation that is new.
  2. How aware and alive to the research context is the researcher demonstrating themselves to be? This type of ‘literature review’ might be framed in terms of other artists and practitioners who inhabit the same conceptual or technical world in some way. However, this kind of survey can also be used to demonstrate originality or the contribution to new knowledge by demonstrating how the researcher differs from the other artists and practitioners working within this context.
  3. How clearly have they demonstrated that (and how) the process of creating the work was critical to the process of answering the research question or reaching the research objectives? In addition to the artefact, the publication might include examples of how the process of creating of the work(s) aided or enabled the answering of the research question or the reaching of the research objectives.
  4. How aware and alive to the problems with and ramifications of what they have done is the researcher demonstrating themselves to be?

And this research process also needs to be outlined in a way that demonstrates originality, significance and rigour.

  1. What is the new knowledge that has been created through this process? This might be demonstrated through reference to the research context: about how there are clear differences and progressions from existing work in this area to your work.
  2. How can “the degree to which [the research] has enabled, enriched, influenced, informed or changed” current practice and/or thinking be demonstrated? This would mostly rely on indications of impact: reviews, audience responses, testimonials from other practitioners, statistics about engagement, the take up (or other influence) of these ideas on practitioners or in their education / training.
  3. How can you demonstrate “the extent to which the work demonstrates intellectual coherence and integrity, and adopts robust and appropriate concepts, analyses, sources, theories and/or methodologies”? Schematic representations can be important in this regard: demonstrating structural features, lines of progression and the coherence of sets / categories of multiple metaphors, gestures etc.

And finally, there is the presentation of this information.

  1. What constitutes too little, enough or too much? Obviously this is a ‘how long is a piece of string?’ question but the issue is about providing just enough information to make all the above points and answer all the above questions and nothing more.
  2. The format would presumably be multimedia in nature as this is practice as research and might be a short film or an interactive website-style structure. In order to comply with the ‘rigour’ criterion, there should be a clear narrative that makes the research question/problem/aim and context explicit and then demonstrates how the method / process of creative practice solves that problem, answers that question or achieves that aim in an original way.
  3. This is obviously suggesting the submission of  a “multi-component output, supported by contextual information (previously called a ‘portfolio’). Both the output and the contextual information may include moving image, sonic, visual or other digital media or written text, as appropriate, to enable the panel to access the research dimensions of the work and to assess its significance, originality and rigour. The 300-word statement should be used to indicate what is the output and what is the contextual information”. (Ref-2019_02-panel-criteria-and-working-methods.pdf – p.60)