Proposing a heuristic reflective tool for reviewing literature in transdisciplinary research for sustainability

A. Idil Gaziulusoy*, Carol Boyle

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

39 Citations (Scopus)


Projects aiming to solve socially-relevant complex problems in general and sustainability related projects in particular are increasingly approached as transdisciplinary research projects. Reviewing and integrating literature and theory across a broad range of disciplines is identified as one of the main quality criteria for transdisciplinary research. Such broad preparation, however, is a major challenge, especially for individual researchers. Even though this challenge has been acknowledged, no systematic way of approaching it has been proposed so far. This paper presents a heuristic tool developed to help individual researchers undertaking transdisciplinary projects in systematic structuring and prioritization of the literature review/reporting process. Using this tool, the transdisciplinary researcher undertakes an iterative, reflective enquiry throughout the research project to identify several literature review filters. A PhD research project, which investigated system innovation for sustainability at product development level, is used as a case study to illustrate the use of the tool. The findings of the case study provided suggestive evidence that the tool addresses the emerging need for a systematic way of reviewing and reporting of literature in transdisciplinary research undertaken by individual researchers effectively.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)139-147
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Education for sustainability
  • PhD education
  • Research methods
  • Transdisciplinary research


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