Skip to 0 minutes and 8 secondsKATHRYN BACKHOLER: I think the benefits are thinking outside what you already know and getting a diverse range of opinions, experience, and knowledge so that you can come up with creative solutions.

Skip to 0 minutes and 19 secondsBEN HORAN: We have, myself, from the engineering and virtual reality perspective, Kaja, from the digital heritage and interpretation side of things, as well as external researchers working in palaeontology. So for us it's a great opportunity to bring together people from completely different worlds to realise an outcome that hasn't been achieved before.

Skip to 0 minutes and 39 secondsKATHRYN BACKHOLER: So my research is really aiming to build the evidence for food and nutrition policies, and how equitable they're likely to be. So a lot of policies in Australia at the moment focus on education. And what my research shows is that if policies only focus on education without changing the environment in which behaviours take place, it may widen inequalities in health.

Skip to 1 minute and 2 secondsBEN HORAN: One starts to realise the value of academic publication, whether that be journals, or at conferences, which are often accompanied by presentations. And they provide an opportunity for us to all work together on chipping away at a large problem, sometimes over many years, sometimes advances can be made quite quickly.

Skip to 1 minute and 22 secondsSHARYN RUNDLE-THIELE: Because our different terms, or even the same word, but meanings of incredibly different can actually divide what we're both walking away with. But if you can actually get past that, then you actually have learnings that just take your project from here to here.

Skip to 1 minute and 44 secondsI think collaboration teaches you all of the things that you don't know.

Skip to 1 minute and 48 secondsVANETTE MCLENNAN: Research collaboration is by far one of the most enjoyable aspects of research. And certainly, sharing and celebrating success together as a team is great.

Skip to 2 minutes and 0 secondsDONNA PENDERGAST: Collaboration I think is the best way to do research. To me, it's absolutely crucial. It's very lonely during research on your own. And I think you also need the inspiration of a team.

Skip to 2 minutes and 18 secondsELIZABETH KENDALL: It's quite a rewarding process if you can get through those different visions and different ways of working and engage clinicians and practitioners in research that you're doing, because then you can see that the research is going to translate into something new immediately.

Skip to 2 minutes and 38 secondsKAJA ANTLEJ: I think it's, when you are working in interdisciplinary research, I think you're always into their aha moment.

Skip to 2 minutes and 46 secondsKATHRYN BACKHOLER: We was spending day after day after day manually extracting that information. And after working with the IT department it took about five minutes.

Skip to 2 minutes and 57 secondsANDREA MARSHALL: I think the only way to do research is in teams. No single person can ever hold all the knowledge that's required to make a really strong project. And that's why working together and looking at the different strengths that people bring to particular projects is incredibly important. I think there are challenges though because when you bring together different interdisciplinary teams, those people often come with different world views, different priorities, different agendas. And sometimes that can be difficult to negotiate. So that's why the importance of having those conversations early on is really critical to making sure the team works well as you move forward.

Multidisciplinary collaboration

Taking a multidisciplinary approach and working with others can help make the most of different research approaches.

Answering an apparently simple question usually means we have to think about a lot of interrelated factors. Working with others, and taking a multidisciplinary approach, can help us to untangle complex problems.

In real-world situations, research paradigms and approaches act like tools in a researcher’s kit. They allow us to understand a problem by asking different questions in different ways.

Take a real-world example. A team of Australian researchers undertook a review of all the published evidence reporting on the social and psychological benefits for young people who participate in sport (Eime et al., 2013). After looking at over 30 studies, they found playing sport had benefits for young people’s physical and psychological development and social health outcomes. However, they also found that more evidence was required to find out if playing sport caused these benefits.

If you are passionate about young people’s participation in sport, you might want to do something to get young people more involved in your local community. But how do you know what the best way to do it is, and how do you collect evidence of the benefits? Taking a variety of research approaches will build a more detailed picture.

  • An experimental approach might compare psychological and social outcomes between young people who are involved in sports and others who are not.

  • An ethnographic approach might see researchers spending time with young people in the local area, to find our their views and values and how this affects their attitude towards playing sport.

  • A social scientist might look at the correlation between participating in sport and socioeconomic factors, such as parents working on weekends.

  • An evaluative approach might look at what makes particular sports programs engaging for young people, giving you the opportunity to build on their success.

And so on.

In the real world, you would be extremely fortunate if these researchers all acted in a coordinated way. This is one of the reasons it’s so important to share your findings with others. Discussing your work with other experts and reading their works will help you find new ideas, support and give you an honest appraisal of your work.

Your task

What are some of the various research approaches that could help us understand how to get kids involved in sports and how to collect evidence of the benefits?

Let us know what you would do to help solve the problem in the comments.


Eime, R. M., Young, J. A., Harvey, J. T., Charity, M. J., & Payne, W. R. (2013). A systematic review of the psychological and social benefits of participation in sport for children and adolescents: informing development of a conceptual model of health through sport. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 10(1), 98.

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This video is from the free online course:

Why Research Matters

Deakin University