An Exploration of Experiences of Transdisciplinary Research in Aging and Technology

Mineko Wada, Alisa Grigorovich, Mei Lan Fang, Judith Sixsmith, Pia Kontos


Transdisciplinary research (TDR) involves academics/scientists collaborating with stakeholders from diverse disciplinary and sectoral backgrounds. While TDR has been recognized as beneficial in generating innovative solutions to complex social problems, knowledge is limited about researchers' perceptions and experiences of TDR in the aging and technology field. We conducted a qualitative study to address this knowledge gap by exploring how members of a pan-Canadian research network on aging and technology perceived and experienced TDR. Thirty members participated in semi-structured interviews. Interview data were analyzed thematically. Participants identified benefits that can be gained from implementing TDR, including mutual learning, improved capacity to understand and solve problems, and community engagement and empowerment. Participants also identified challenges to implementing TDR: communication issues and conflicting priorities among team members; tensions between traditional and TDR approaches; and difficulties identifying partners and developing partnerships. In addition, contradictions between TDR principles and participants' understanding of them became apparent. Nevertheless, some participants described successful strategies for implementing transdisciplinary principles in their projects: stakeholder engagement; language and goal sharing; and open, respectful communication. We offer recommendations to support TDR in aging and technology that focus on education and reform of the culture and values that can constrain efforts to practice TDR.


transdisciplinarity; team science; semi-structured interviews; thematic analysis; aging and technology; communication; barriers; promising practices

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Copyright (c) 2020 Mineko Wada, Alisa Grigorovich, Mei Lan Fang, Judith Sixsmith, Pia Kontos

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