A method to review and report literature in transdisciplinary research undertaken by individual researchers
Projects aiming to solve socially-relevant complex problems in general and sustainability related projects in particular are increasingly approached as transdisciplinary research projects. The distinguishing characteristics of transdisciplinary projects require development of unique strategies to overcome difficulties resulting from the absence of disciplinary frameworks and broadness of issues needing to be covered. Since transdisciplinary research requires broad preparation, it is particularly challenging to undertake at Ph.D. level where, traditionally, the researchers are expected to work individually. Even though review of literature in transdisciplinary research has been acknowledged as one of the challenges of transdisciplinary research, no systematic way of approaching this challenge has been proposed so far. The aim of this paper is to present a method developed to help Ph.D. researchers undertaking transdisciplinary projects in systematic structuring and prioritisation of literature review/reporting process. In this method, the transdisciplinary researcher identifies and reflects on a long-term vision that he/she aims to contribute towards its achievement. Identification of a vision is the starting point for setting filters in order to narrow the literature review. Further narrowing is done through an iterative process of identifying other filters by inquiring about the mission, context and content of the research and by answering some reflective questions. A recently finalised Ph.D. research on system innovation for sustainability at product development level is used as a case study to exemplify the use of the method.