Accompanying research: Methods of interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary knowledge integration in the NRP 61 synthesis process


The accompanying research project investigated the methods used for knowledge integration in the four thematic synthesis.

Project description (completed research project)

The aim of this synthesis is to investigate methods used for interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary knowledge integration and their application in the NRP 61 synthesis process. Particular focus is placed on those methods that are used in the context of the four thematic syntheses. The main objectives are as follows:

  • Formulating an overview of the knowledge integration methods used in the thematic syntheses
  • Analysing the methods and findings gained through these methods
  • Identifying opportunities and risks associated with the methods used


Qualitative social research methods are used to investigate the interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary knowledge integration methods. These encompass (a) analysis of written documents (document analysis), (b) conducting semi-structured interviews (survey) and (c) observation through participation in the thematic synthesis "Water resources and infrastructures: drinking water and wastewater management in settlements".


The main recommendation emerging from the evaluation project was to elaborate an overall integration strategy before embarking on a synthesis process as in NRP 61. This strategy needs to be geared to the overall targets of the synthesis process and the results that need to be integrated. It further needs to a) identify stakeholders involved in the synthesis process and clarify their roles, b) outline the various processes step-by-step and c) define the various integration methods and process types at each step.

Future NRPs need to allow for enough room, time and financial means in order to elaborate such an overall integration strategy and to adapt the strategy in view of changing targets or new results in the course of the synthesis process. The same applies to the regular analysis of the process in terms of a formative evaluation. This will not only lead to a rolling improvement of the synthesis process, but also to the generation of knowledge with formative potential for future processes.

Relevance for research and practice

The findings of the NRP 61 accompanying research will result in an academic article devoted to the interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary knowledge integration methods and their application in the NRP 61 synthesis process. The methods studied will also be incorporated into the td-net’s online collection of methods on the co-production of knowledge.

Project leader​s

  • Prof. Janet Hering, Eawag Dübendorf
  • Dr. Christian Pohl, td-net/SCNAT
  • Dr. Sabine Hoffmann, Eawag Dübendorf

Further information on this content


Prof. Janet Hering Eawag Überlandstrasse 133
Postfach 611
8600 Dübendorf +41 58 765 50 01