Appropriate Time Scales
Time for research, and the timespan of research projects, can create potential conflict between Transition processes and academic research cultures. It often is a key issue that needs discussion and compromise.
Issues of time in Transition processes and those in academic research cultures often don't match up.
A number of issues of time arose as constraints in the research we conducted.
First, the timespan over which research projects exist. Academic research institutions often constrain projects as existing for a limited time period - largely to conform to funding cycles. However, Transition projects are often about long-term development. Attempting to do too much too quickly can create problems that will persist after a short project finishes. Issues of time in Transition research are central to developing a long term resilience in a local space.
In parallel, the richest collaborations between Transition and outside researchers also tend to be longer term - allowing for the development of trust and good Interpersonal Relations; maximising the various activities and benefits that come from longer collaborations in Research as Activism and Participatory Action Research, for example. Time makes for better working relationships, easier Working across boundaries, more Collective Active Learning - it makes research relationships more sustainable and able to respond to new opportunities such as funding calls, or new threats that may arise.
Time is also a crucial practical issue that arose in our research on Transition - the simple fact that activists and community researchers are likely to have less of it! There may be great interest and value in getting directly involved in research, but no time resource. This can be an issue determining An agreed level of collaboration, and researchers who are paid to do research, or who have access to research funding, can have an important role here in sharing the research time that they have in working with Transition. At the same time, academics are increasingly pressed for time, with an expanding number of demands on them that are not always visible to those outside Universities.
Either way, time can create potential conflict between Transition processes and academic researchers. It presents another issue that each needs to be mindful of in terms of the constraints and opportunities that others have. So it often is a key issue that needs discussion and sometimes compromise.
Time constraints, and the different timescales of academic research and Transition projects, can be a key issue that require discussion and agreement. Good research collaborations, like any sustainable initiative, allow time for building trust, developing working methods, building knowledge iteratively, and feeding back into and learning from practice.