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Creative and practice-based research

Information providing guidance on resources and techniques to searching the literature and writing for creative and practice-based research.

Writing strategies

Watch this recorded webinar below, led by creative practice researcher and Academic Skills Advisor Dr Stefanie Markidis, for writing tips and strategies. 

Writing strategies for Creative Practice Research: structure, process, style  (55:32 mins), RMIT University Library, Microsoft Stream. (RMIT login required)

Strategic Publishing

Planning for publication

Some reasons that you might publish include: 

  • To progress your career  
  • For academic standing  
  • For professional / industry standing 
  • For societal impact 

As part of planning, you will need to consider which publication type is most appropriate for your research: book chapter; article; social media post; news media. This is a discussion you may have with your supervisor/s (if you are a HDR student) or a colleague (if you are an early career researcher). 

As part of selecting a type you should consider RelevanceQuality and Discoverability of your publication source:

  • Relevance relates to identifying sources that are strong in coverage in your topic area.
  • Quality is identifying "quality" or "well-known" publications in your  subject area.
  • Discoverability is ensuring that your work is discovered.

To reach a broader audience beyond academia, you might want to consider writing a non-academic publication such as a newspaper article, online article, blog post or an article for a professional (or trade) journal or newsletter. Writing for a non-academic publication could be one way to show research impact or engagement.

Writing for a non-academic publication could also be used as a 'rehearsal' for writing an academic or peer reviewed journal article. If you are seeking to write for a professional (or trade) journal, check the journal's homepage or the website of the association (e.g., Architecture Australia/Architecture Media) that publishes the journal (e.g., Architecture Australia or Artichoke) or contact the editor with a pitch for your article.    

For online based publications, particularly open access, a digital object identifier (DOI) can assist with the discoverability of your work. Some other benefits of a publication with a DOI include the ability to have:

  • A unique identifier for your publication
  • Long term access to your publication
  • Accurate citations and metrics analysis of the publication

Creative works

Examples of creative works include:

  • an artwork, diagram or map, photograph, sculpture, or an installation

  • a building or a design project

  • a public exhibition or a live or recorded performance such as a play or a film

  • a novel, an exhibition catalogue or an entry in an exhibition catalogue

Points for consideration when selecting an outlet for your creative work:

  • Take into account the reputation of the gallery or venue, the exposure your work may receive, and how it will be discovered and promoted.
    • Will your work be independently reviewed, and will you be able to show engagement through attendance, feedback, reviews or other means?
    • Can you show evidence that your work has been selected based on evaluation by one or more peers within the same research field and the work is available in a public outlet or venue? See the list of approved venues for which RMIT does not require evidence of peer review as these venues are known to use a peer review or expert selection process for selecting creative works.  
  • Will information about your creative work be discoverable online, for example, through a catalogue, recording, video, images?
    • Will it be promoted through social media?
    • Is there a website that can be linked to in a social media post or added to a researcher profile or personal website?

Writing NTRO statements

Reporting creative works

As a creative practice researcher, your creative works generate knowledge and research outcomes. It is important for the university and wider Australian research community to report and review these outcomes. Statements for ERA (Excellence in Research for Australia) reporting must follow guidelines set by the Australian Research Council (see the guidelines here: ERA 2023 submission guidelines).

To submit details of your research outputs to the Research Office at RMIT, your statement and research evidence must be uploaded to the Research Outputs Capture portal. Information and support can be found on the Researcher Portal.

 

Your research statement

When writing a research statement for an NTRO (Non-Traditional Research Output), it is important to express the context of the work, explain how it is research and why it is significant. Your research statement must be structured with three subheadings: Background, Contribution and Significance. These three elements present a comprehensive narrative of your research outcome. 

Research background

The scholarly field and your research question/hypothesis

Research contribution

How your research contributes to the field

Research significance

Why your contribution is significant to the field


The three sections combined must be a maximum of 2,000 characters (approximately 250 words), including spaces. Write your statement for an expert audience, but one that is not necessarily expert in your specific field or discipline. Be clear and concise, using plain language.

Below is a guide, including examples, to writing these three sections of your research statement for creative works.


Research Background

Set up the context

In this section you should: 

  • Set up the research field and identify the ‘problem’ in the field. 
  • Articulate the question that motivated your research. 
  • Provide a description of the theoretical and practice context in which the project sits (similar to a literature review), not a description of your work or its background. 
  • Provide a brief review of other creative practice research and/or scholars who address the broad and narrow disciplines that provide a context for the work.
  • Provide researcher names and titles of publications and/or creative works and be specific about which of their ideas/practices you are engaging with through your creative work.
  • Name your discipline (in broad and narrow fields), even if this seems obvious, e.g. “cultural studies” (broad) and “qualitative studies of urban subcultures” (narrow).

 

Research Background: example

David Carlin, The Historian’, Meanjin essay, 2019

Background: Archival practices range from the formal to the vernacular. The ‘will to archive’ (Featherstone 2006) operates not only within state institutions of power but in the everyday archival practices of collecting, preservation and ordering (Eichorn 2008). This essay examines how this impulse can operate on the domestic scale of a working-class family in Melbourne. It asks what can be effected when memories and objects together produce history, through obsessive acts of defiance, patience and collaboration across generations linked in bonds of love. 

In this statement, the author: 

  • Sets up the research field with key scholars/concepts
  • Describes theoretical and practice context
  • Articulates the research question

Research Contribution

Introduce the work and how it is research

In this section, you should: 

  • Introduce and describe the creative work. 
  • Be clear: use the title in the first sentence, make clear the specific role of the researcher (especially important in collaborative works).
  • Describe how the creative work addresses or responds to the ‘problem’ identified in the Background section. 
  • Consider: 
    • How does ‘new knowledge’ manifest materially in the work? 
    • How does your work expand/contribute to the field and do something new/different?
    • How does the work use existing knowledge to generate new concepts, methodologies, inventions, cultural awareness and understanding? 

 

Research Contribution: example

Brigid Magner, 'From Grenfell to Gulgong & Back', Overland essay, 2018

Contribution: 'From Grenfell to Gulgong & back' is a piece of narrative nonfiction which forms part of my ongoing project On the Trail: Reading Literary Places in Australia. Based on fieldwork in Grenfell, Gulgong & Mudgee in New South Wales this essay narrates my journey around sites related to Henry Lawson's early years. The essay reflects on the relationship between Lawson's literary production and the ways in which it might have been shaped by the landscapes of his youth. My contribution is significant to the field of literary tourism because it has been largely underexplored in an Australian context. In this essay I use the form of narrative nonfiction, to engage with literary heritage sites, as this form allows me to freely record my own responses to place, which can be more difficult in standard scholarly forms.

In this statement, the author: 

  • Uses the work's title in first sentence
  • Describes creative work
  • Explains how the work contributes to the field
  • Describes how the work extends the researcher's creative practice

Research Significance

Why does it matter (to the field)?

In this section, you should: 

  • State why the work and its contribution are significant to the field
  • Show evidence of this claim (of significance)
  • Describe why the work is important – don’t assume the reader is familiar with indicators of significance.
  • Include details of funding bodies, collaborators/partners, the prestige of venues or publishers, prizes, accolades or any other indicators of quality or peer review. 
  • Mention some evidence of excellence, such as: 
    • Who selected/accepted your work for presentation/publication?
    • How competitive and rigorous was the selection process?
    • Was the research outcome presented alongside the work of other researchers of high standing?
    • Which high-profile practitioners have presented their work in that publication/location previously or since? 

 

Research Significance: example

Darrin Verhagen, ‘M+M’, Production soundtrack, Theatreworks, Melbourne Festival 2013

Significance: Verhagen's soundtrack won a Green Room award (best sound design), as a radical reworking of a classic in which the sound design was integral in challenging audiences, pushing discomfort alongside contemplation and seduction. Co-commissioned by Theatre Works and Melbourne Festival, supported by City of Port Phillip (Cultural Development Fund), Besen Family Foundation and The Australia Council for the Arts.

In this statement, the author: 

  • Provides evidence of significance: prize/award
  • Describes why the work is important
  • Includes details of commissioning bodies
  • Includes details of funding sources

Reading

Paul Williams, Exegesis as manifesto, New Writing: The International Journal for the Practice and Theory of Creative Writing 24 Jan 2022