TransImpact – Effective Transdisciplinary Research

Abstrakte Netzwerk Verbindung Hintergrund (©iStock by Getty Images: naddi)

So far, there are hardly any generally accepted quality standards for successful transdisciplinary research. At the same time research programs are increasingly requiring transdisciplinary research approaches. The TransImpact project analyses how and with what kind of methods transdisciplinary research can achieve the desired societal and scientific impacts.

Research approach

Picking up societal problems, the participation of practice actors, the integration of heterogeneous knowledge bases and the generalization of individual cases are central features of transdisciplinary research. Within TransImpact the exchange with researchers, practice actors and funding institutions will focus on these four points. By systematically assessing completed research projects and channelling the results back to the practice actors and other experts four goals are to be achieved:

(1) The strengthening of scientific bases: integrative concepts, methods, quality criteria are being identified.

(2) The strengthening of the scientific community: by sharing challenges and quality standards of transdisciplinary research the community building is encouraged.

(3) The strengthening of multipliers for transdisciplinary work: contributing to the establishment of a recognized canon for disciplinary research.

(4) The consolidation of the knowledge basis: the establishment of the online hub transdisciplinarity as a virtual forum where findings and experiences of TransImpact will be made available and can be interactively developed. The online hub will serve as a pre-study for a Virtual Academy for Transdisciplinary Studies.


So far, there are only few studies dealing with the links between the mode of research, its methodological characteristics and the societal and scientific effects. The importance of this step becomes evident as besides the funding scheme Social-Ecological Research (SOEF) of the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) – a programme that has been transdisciplinarily orientated since its implementation – the requirement for inter- and transdisciplinary research designs have also become part of other research programs and agenda processes. The civic platforms Forschungswende in Germany and Future Earth internationally are two of those examples even if they are very differently orientated. In the current practice, the understanding of transdisciplinarity is getting more and more differentiated so terms and concepts apparently need to be clarified. There is also an increasing demand for orientation with regard to methods and quality standards. The studies done so far for example by ISOE (Evalunet, tdPrax and tdPrax2) will be taken into consideration by the current research project TransImpact. It is the aim of TransImpact to define the potential of positive effects triggered by transdisciplinary research within the specific societal field of action. The continuing exchange of information with actors from transdisciplinary research on these potentials and the underlying quality standards are part of TransImpact.

Research partners

  • Centre for Technology and Society (CTS) TU Berlin
  • Prof. Dr. Armin Grunwald, Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
  • Dr. Florian Keil, kib (keep it balanced)


The project „Effective transdisciplinary research, analysis and transfer of standards for transdisciplinary research (TransImpact). Pre-study for a Virtual Academy for Transdisciplinarity Studies” is funded by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) as part of the funding scheme Social-Ecological Research.


Schäfer, Martina/Matthias Bergmann/Lena Theiler (2021): Systematizing societal effects of transdisciplinary research. Research Evaluation , rvab019

Schäfer, Martina/Alexandra Lux (2020): Transdisziplinäre Forschung wirkungsvoll gestalten. Qualitätsstandards für erfolgreiche Forschungsansätze. Ökologisches Wirtschaften 35 (1), 43-50

Lux, Alexandra/Martina Schäfer/Matthias Bergmann/Thomas Jahn/Oskar Marg/Emilia Nagy/Anna-Christin Ransiek/Lena Theiler (2019): Societal effects of transdisciplinary sustainability research - How can they be strengthened during the research process?. Environmental Science and Policy 101, 183-191

Hitziger, Martin/Maurizio Aragrande/Berezowski/John A./Canali/Massimo/Victor Del Rio Vilas/Sabine Hoffmann/Gilberto Igrejas/Hans Keune/Alexandra Lux/Mieghan Bruce/Markus A. Palenberg/Christian Pohl/Miroslav Radeski/Ina Richter/Carmenza Robledo Abad/Robert H. Salerno/Sara Savic/Janina Schirmer/Barbara R. Vogler/Simon R. Rüegg (2019): EVOLvINC: EValuating knOwLedge INtegration Capacity in multistakeholder governance. Ecology and Society 24 (2), 36

Bergmann, Matthias/Martina Schäfer/Thomas Jahn (2017): 'Wirkungen' verstehen und feststellen. Arbeitspapier aus dem BMBF-Verbundprojekt TransImpact

Bergmann, Matthias/Thomas Jahn/Alexandra Lux/Emilia Nagy/Martina Schäfer (2016): Wirkungsvolle transdisziplinäre Forschung. TransImpact untersucht transdisziplinäre Projekte. GAIA 25 (1), 59-60


2015/11 – 2019/02