Integrative studies on rural landscapes: Policy expectations and research practice

Barbel Tress, Gunther Tress, G. Fry

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    110 Citations (Scopus)


    During the 1990s, integrative (interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary) approaches gained increasing importance for rural landscape studies and numbers of such projects rose. However, it is not clear, what funding agencies expect from integrative projects, how researchers make them operational and what their outputs are. To identify policy expectations and research practice, we did a literature review and conducted standardised interviews with funding agencies, researchers, and project leaders. Results revealed that funding agencies have varying understandings of interdisciplinarity. They set up interdisciplinary programs not primarily to achieve scientific progress but to solve societal and environmental problems. Regarding publication output, peer-reviewed papers are preferred before research reports. Funding agencies seldom give practical advice to projects on how to meet their demands. Researchers frame project objectives in terms of their problem solving capacity. Although perceiving lack of common operational understanding of interdisciplinarity as a problem, researchers do not arrive at a common terminology. As barriers to integration we identified the spatial distance between researchers, project meetings, and management problems. Researchers perceive a tension between the applied character of the projects and the scientific expectations placed on them. Funding-agencies' expectations are hardly known to researchers. We recommend greater dialogue between funding agencies and researchers especially regarding interdisciplinary objectives, problems and solutions. We suggest paying greater attention to the organisation and management of research to assure the necessary support for integrative research teams. (C) 2003 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)177-191
    Number of pages14
    JournalLandscape and Urban Planning
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2005


    • landscape
    • research policy
    • research funding
    • interdisciplinarity
    • transdisciplinarity


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