The Creative Researcher In Search of Outputs

Tim Thomas and Susan Thwaites
2011 Conference

What are we doing when we do research? We can find a strong and established research method in the sciences, social sciences and humanities. In the creative arts, if we look to the intersections of art and technology, at the development of tools and process, we can find similar methods. All these methods start with an observation that prompts a question, or a proposition, then, by following the research method we get to a stage at which we feel confident that we can make a statement.

Practice led research as a term, suggests something different. It is taken up by academic artists and creative practitioners to describe a form of research that, whilst it is different to the research that we find in the sciences, social sciences and humanities, is no less legitimate. Art practice creates statements in the form of works of art whilst science practice creates statements in the form conclusions drawn from data obtained during the research process. This sounds like a good match until we ask what makes a good science statement and what makes a good art statement. For science we have a small number of significant criteria. Top of the list is testability, is it possible to refute the statement. In art it is not so easy I can’t for example demonstrate that a work of art as a statement is wrong.

This paper is about research, and comes out of the early stages of a project in which the researchers plan to answer some questions by making a fiction film. Not the least of these questions is, what are the research outputs of this creative project ?

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About the author

Tim Thomas teaches Media Production in the Faculty of Design And Creative Practice at the University of Canberra and is a PhD candidate in the School of Art, at the Australian National University. His research interests happen in a practice led environment and revolve around representations of space and objects.


Susan Thwaites is an assistant professor at the University of Canberra, where she teaches Media Production and Screenwriting in the Faculty of Arts and Design. She trained as a cinematographer at the Australian Film Television and Radio School and has worked in the film industry shooting drama, music clips and documentary. Her creative interests have shifted into screenwriting. Her PhD practice led thesis is on adaptation, where she is adapting a novel by Rodney Hall.