The emergence of creative practice as research
The term ‘Creative Practice as Research’ is now in common usage in the tertiary sector, although it is relatively new in its inception. This article traces the rise of the term (and its variations), which emerged about the same time as the tertiary auditing processes, such as Aotearoa New Zealand’s Performance-Based Research Fund (PBRF). But creative practitioners had already been sneaking production into the traditional university, at times facing resistance and even derision from scholars undertaking more conventional research within the arts, humanities and social science departments. The author argues that the term Creative Practice as Research, and the many practices under its umbrella such as journalism, is now widely accepted, in part because it has been convenient, fulfilling particular needs within a changing tertiary landscape. Its greater acceptance allows traditional universities to respond to student demand for skills-based learning without losing their reputation for research excellence. But the term also suits the former polytechnics, or ‘new universities’, that are eager to imbue their craft and technical teaching history and practice with richer research content. Drawing on a new wave of ‘production studies’, the article also explores how a specific instance of Creative Practice, the documentary, does indeed fulfil the requirement of research as articulated through other academic disciplines such as the social sciences. Furthermore, documentary and other creative practices can contribute to ‘impact’, an increasingly important metric deployed in the assessment of research within the tertiary sector.
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