General terms- transferability
Transferability refers to the degree to which the results of qualitative research can be generalized or transferred to other contexts or settings. It implies the process of using insights from a particular case to understand other cases or to apply this knowledge in other settings. The challenge of transferability relates particularly to complex situations that are“ill-defined” given a great number of influencing factors and non-linear relationships among these factors. This is typically the case in any real-world social situation. Under such circumstances, any attempts at transferability require a close understanding of the specific contexts from where insights are learned and to where they are to be applied. It requires expertise to identify the key elements in each situation in order to draw analogies (given similarities) as the basis for transferring theoretical or applied knowledge.
Relevance: where and how is the term relevant in the OpenHeritage?
The key innovation of this project with respect to transferability is to engage the topic of adaptive re-use of cultural heritage. “The Transferability Matrix” supports a focused investigation of insights from our project gained in previous steps. The purpose of “The Transferability Matrix” is to promote transferability of insights from OpenHeritage case studies to other projects and practitioners.
To promote transferability of insights and our evaluation (especially for practitioners), it is useful to allow for making analogies on the basis of similarities. What a proper analogy is between a case study and a case to which the insights of the study are to be related, is mostly dependent on the eye of the beholder. The transferability thus should enable the person interested in transferring knowledge to draw such analogies herself. To connect the evaluation and its framework to the deliverable of a transferability matrix, the proposal is to develop a typology of keywords to classify our case studies in different ways.
Transferability is a key term in transdisciplinary science discussion that applies to fields that engage in empirical research (sociology, psychology etc.) and that are in relation to fields that apply knowledge (social work, engineering etc.). To increase transferability, there have two key considerations: 1) how closely the participants are linked to the context being studied, and 2) the contextual boundaries of the findings (Jensen 2012). The second consideration is concern about providing a complete understanding of the context being studied and ensuring that the research questions are appropriately answered. It is important to provide a full picture of the context. Readers therefore can explore the research document and determine if the findings can be transferred to their setting or environment.
In the discussion on transferability of case studies, Wolfgang Krohn (2008: 369) approaches a broadly accepted view on science holds that findings and insights from case studies are scientific to the extent that they are generalizable and may also help to explain or even predict similar phenomena elsewhere. From this perspective thus, “the less circumstantial and conditional an achieved piece of empirical knowledge is, the higher its scientific value“ (Krohn 2008: 369). This would then allow for a causal analysis in which the relationship between an independent and dependent variable could be formulated.
Even though Case studies in transdisciplinary projects such as at OpenHeritage are highly circumstantial and conditional, given their historically and geographically specific sites, problems and responses and a distinct set of actors involved. But any attempt to generate generalized knowledge from case studies requires a degree of abstraction that the knowledge would hardly be used to the people involved in that case studies.
In order to apply knowledge, concrete situations and conditions would need to be taken seriously. Krohn (2008: 369) refers to this difference as “idiosyncratic and nomothetic knowledge structures”. “nomothetic” refers to the endeavour to find general laws that can be abstracted from the concrete, while “ideographic” means paying particular attention to the concrete and its singularity. Heinrich Rickert (1924 in Krohn: 371) also distinguishes the research interests on“nomothetic” and “ideographic” by the degree in which values are attached to the objects. This concept also applies OpenHeritage projects not driven primarily by scientific interests but by values that the actors attach to an object and place. Or as Higgs describes such motivation to become engaged “By investing labor one becomes part of that place” (Higgs 2003: in Krohn 372).
- Krohn, Wolfgang. 2008. Learning from Case Studies. from Shepherds. 2008. Sheep and forest fires: a reconception of grazing land management. pp.369-38
- Trochim, W. M. K. 2006. “The Qualitative Debate. Research Methods Knowledge Base.” Research Methods Knowledge Base, Web Center for Social Research Methods. http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/qualval.php. Accessed 25, Feb 2020.
- Trochim, W.M.K. 2006. “Types of Reliability. Research Methods Knowledge Base.” Research Methods Knowledge Base, Web Center for Social Research Methods. http://www.socialresearchmethods.net/kb/reltypes.php. Accessed 25, Feb 2020.
- Writing@CSU (2013) “Generalizability and Transferability” Accessed 24, Feb 2020.
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