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What scientists can learn from art

David Gauntlett considers what scholars from other disciplines, not just the arts and humanities, can learn from how artists do research.

In the world of academic research, artists and art schools can have a difficult time. Their methods and ways of thinking about things are often messy, unscripted processes, involving lots of trial-and-error making of stuff and collaboration with people from totally different walks of life. Their outputs are strikingly different from most formal outputs of research, and are nothing like the journal articles produced in other arts and humanities subjects such as literature or philosophy.

Even arts funders are queasy about non-traditional or creative work. The British Academy, for instance, supports the humanities, but resists innovation in how grant applicants might explore questions. Creative practice-based outputs are outside the academy’s remit, its guidance notes say.

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