American Journal of Community Psychology

, Volume 38, Issue 1–2, pp 63–77 | Cite as

Toward a Science of Transdisciplinary Action Research

  • Daniel StokolsEmail author
Original Paper


This paper offers a conceptual framework for establishing a science of transdisciplinary action research. Lewin's (1951) concept of action research highlights the scientific and societal value of translating psychological research into community problem-solving strategies. Implicit in Lewin's formulation is the importance of achieving effective collaboration among behavioral researchers, community members and policy makers. The present analysis builds on Lewin's analysis by outlining programmatic directions for the scientific study of transdisciplinary research and community action. Three types of collaboration, and the contextual circumstances that facilitate or hinder them, are examined: (1) collaboration among scholars representing different disciplines; (2) collaboration among researchers from multiple fields and community practitioners representing diverse professional and lay perspectives; and (3) collaboration among community organizations across local, state, national, and international levels. In the present analysis, transdisciplinary action research is viewed as a topic of scientific study in its own right to achieve a more complete understanding of prior collaborations and to identify strategies for refining and sustaining future collaborations (and their intended outcomes) among researchers, community members and organizations.


Interdisciplinary Transdisciplinary Collaboration Action research Community coalitions Inter-sectoral partnerships 



Paper presented at the Society for Community Research and Action Working Conference on Interdisciplinary Collaboration, Vanderbilt University, May 21-22, 2004. The helpful comments of David Altman, Ken Maton, Doug Perkins and two anonymous reviewers on an earlier version of the paper are gratefully acknowledged. Development of this manuscript was supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIDA/NCI) to establish the UCI TTURC (NIH award #DA-13332).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Planning, Policy, and DesignSchool of Social Ecology, University of CaliforniaIrvineUSA

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