Monthly Mentor

Patricia Leavy (November)
Each month, a different member and NAEA awardee is the guest writer for the NAEA Monthly Mentor Blog. Patricia Leavy, PhD is an independent scholar and bestselling author. She was formerly Associate Professor of Sociology, Chair of Sociology & Criminology, and Founding Director of Gender Studies at Stonehill College in Massachusetts. She has published over twenty-five books, earning commercial and critical success in both nonfiction and fiction, and her work has been translated into numerous languages. She is internationally recognized as a leader in arts-based research and research methodology. Click "GO" to read her full bio.

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November 01, 2018

Arts-Based Research 101

By Patricia Leavy, PhD

The scholar seeks, the artist finds

—Andre Gide


I’m a sociologist but I spend much of my professional life in the world of art educators and artists. I’m not alone either. Increasingly, scholars across the disciplines are turning the arts. I’ll share a little of my own journey.

Early in my career I became frustrated with the traditional ways of conducting research and the limitations of traditional forms to best share research findings. Academic articles rarely follow the attributes of engaging writing. Academic articles are jargon-filled, difficult to access (they circulate in peer-reviewed journals inaccessible to anyone outside of academia), and have a highly limited audience even within academia. The vast majority of articles published in the social sciences have an audience of 3-8 readers, including their author. It’s pretty bleak for those of us interested in sharing our work with those inside and outside of the academy. This is what led me to a different research paradigm: arts-based research (ABR). This month’s mentor blog will focus on ABR. For those unfamiliar, here’s a basic overview.

In short, ABR is an arts approach to research in which art-making is integral to the research process. ABR exists at the nexus of the arts/humanities and the social sciences/sciences. ABR involves researchers in any discipline adapting the tenets of the creative arts in order to address research questions. An arts practice may be used during project conceptualization, data collection, data analysis, and/or to represent research findings. These approaches to research are useful for producing new insights and learning; description, exploration, discovery, or problem solving; forging macro-micro connections; evocation and provocation; raising critical consciousness or awareness; cultivating empathy; unsettling stereotypes; applied research; asking new questions or getting at old questions in new ways; and, contributing to public scholarship.

- PL

Authors Note: For a comprehensive introduction to ABR please see my book Method Meets Art Second Edition and for a comprehensive review of the field please see the Handbook of Arts-Based Research. Visit Guilford Press for discount details.

 

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