A definition

About three years ago I attempted to write a definition of practice-as-research. Here it is below. In future posts I’ll attempt to critique it a bit. 

Practice as research is a hybrid research method that artists (who are often — but not necessarily — working in Universities) use to develop understanding of the role and significance of their artistic practices. It places artistic work at the centre of research, during which artists examine their practice in relation to the work of other practitioners and philosophical and critical thinking. This balance — between deep internal reflection and engaging ‘outwardly’ with the world as artists and humans — is vital. Practice as research generates projects that challenge our assumptions about the nature of artistic processes and work. Its outcomes are often multi-modal including moving and still images, web-based formats, and alternative forms of writing.

Image of Ellie Sikorski and Jenny Hill by Eulanda Shead (2011)

3 Replies to “A definition”

  1. I have gone back to this because I was using it somewhere as a definition but have returned to this – the hybrid bit troubles me somewhat – it is both one and the same practice research practice research practice researchpracticeresearchpracticeresearchpraxisresearchpracticepraxisresearchpracticesearchrepraxissearchpractice…..and so this swing between goes on until it becomes a modality all of its own. It troubles me because it is a mode (method) of research … so you do,write,paint,play,act,become,interview,respond,record,argue, as a mode of researching whilst at the same time this research topic/questions/inquiry/exploration/proposal/hypothesis could have inherent links to this mode both conceptually and as a legacy of former researching. So as much as I want to use the word I am resistant – it sets up hierarchies of articulation and I feel I am more a nomad in researching who can travel beyond this binary and yet more than likely return to it anew.


  2. I hear you.
    I would argue that historically speaking it is hybrid. That is, it has developed from a range of experimental qualitative research methods. I think it’s also useful to imagine that the use of the word might have different degrees of value depending on who you are talking with. The concepts you are describing — practice/research crossover — are not necessarily *obvious* for people outside of the discipline. In this sense, the word hybrid helps people to find a way into the mangle.


  3. What is the discipline? What is historical? Whilst we use the word – it sets up a binary almost suggesting that : twos’s company, three’s a crowd….. to other disciplines – other that is to our own. Ours, and other – strange words to use….I always feel I cannot speak for the other….. But what I do know is just because something is historic ….it doesn’t make it right. Hybrid – sets up binaries …..like we thought there was only quantitative and qualitative but because someone (B.Haseman) went beyond that binary we can now look to Qualitative, Quantitative and Performative Research ….. yes for sure this came from dabbling in social science approaches but if we couldn’t think beyond the binary and in fact ‘our’ ‘my’ own discipline ….. well …….hmmmm


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