Research Support


For those new to academic writing or even if it’s just been a while, here is a simple formula for focussing your research interests and formulating your research question or thesis topic:

Formula 1: A/B/C and their use of material/concept/history/religion/rhetoric/ in A/B/C (Artist or film or project etc.)
Formula 2: The concept of A/B/C in the work of A/B/C.

Research question sample: How is A/B/C using material/concept/history/religion/rhetoric to reach a specific audience/express a specific concern/agenda etc.?

Research in arts can be:
– supportive of practice: For instance when clarifying a preliminary question, e.g. exploring the history of a specific insane asylum for a piece on hysteria
– contextualizing the practice: An exploration of similar, related, or opposing practices, e.g. researching how current photographic projects are treating issues of land use in relation to your own photo project on suburbia in Berlin.
– practice based: When the artistic practice is identical with the research, e.g. developing a healing dance ritual in a context of performance working with trauma and body memory

Methods can be:
– experiential, e.g in phenomenology
– experimental, e.g in physics
– opinion based, e.g. interview, questionaire
– hermeneutical, e.g. text analysis, quantitative/qualitative content analysis
– observational: e.g. case study, participant observation in Anthropology
– practice based: the (artistic) practice is the research

Methodology is your set of methods, your paradigms, the rationale for the methods you employ, in the case of a systematic investigation: the system. It seems best to explain early on in the introduction where you are coming from with your methodology and your framework of beliefs to give the reader a context for your methodology. seminar.


by Klaus Knoll

First and foremost: This is here for you, not the other way around. The process of storing, repeating and revising ideas, commonly known as writing, is not just the product of thought but very much part of the process of thinking itself. Writing will always help structuring the inner voice. Once you learn to do it from that perspective you might find that this intense and interwoven process is relevant to your art work, your life in general.

Plan Your Paper
You already have a plan from your application. It will experience many alterations, shifts, expansions, contractions, variations. Your paper may in the end look nothing like the plan you handed in half a year ago. This is alright. You and your faculty will document this process along the way. The main point of your research paper at Transart Institute is to inform your art work, to put it in a wider context than your world and that of your colleagues, and to help you to become more articulate about it, fostering dialogue and the exchange of ideas and to make you more versed in arguing your points whatever they are. More than anything, make sure that they are Your Points.

Create an Argument
Always explain where you are coming from, ideologically, epistemologically and personally. Give your frame/s of reference. A traditional “good research paper” will contain an introduction, a body and a conclusion. But in reality, all research is an argument that somebody brings forward. Be clear about what that argument is and what your supporting facts, ideas, arguments, assumptions etc. are. Once a month or so, write a thesis statement to make sure you can still explain in a sentence or two what it all is about. More about this in the first residency research course.

Tame the Sources
Before you head off into the joys of the library, develop a system for taking notes and for tracking both kinds of quotes: the word-by-word quote and the paraphrased idea, when you present, summarize, praise, oppose, classify in your own words what someone else wrote. A particularly straightforward and low-tech approach is a notebook with divided pages where both kinds of quotes and all source information (the bibliographical stuff) go on the left, your ideas, expansions, impressions, screams, sighs, the supporting and opposing ideas that come to your mind go on the right. This can be just as easily done in most word editing programs. It’s hard to conceive a simpler and/or more effective system to keep track of what is your’s and what’s someone else’s. It will also very quickly help you clarify your thinking. Together with your faculty, choose and strictly follow a citation system. Transart Institute recommends either Harvard or the Chicago Style Manual. If you have questions about how to quote sources, ask your faculty and ask them early on.

Draft and Revise Your Paper
Start with an outline. Otherwise a lot of excess baggage goes into your paper and will then need to be edited out again. Also, superfluous points muddy your paper and your thinking. Your outline is your map, without it you may get lost and you don’t have very much time to get there. Check your latest thesis statement against your research plan. Are you still researching what you planned? Make an outline with every draft. Follow it strictly. Revise it for the next draft. Much of the drafting and revising is done in the virtual classroom and enjoys the input of your faculty. There is nothing wrong with getting input from your peers either. Allow plenty of time. Writing under pressure is not everybody’s delight.

Review and Finish Your Paper
Use a spell checker but be aware of its limitations. E.g. the spell checker can’t tell you whether it’s “it’s” or “its”. A style guide can. Also, have someone else proof read your paper. Check thesis statement and conclusion for coherency. Imagine explaining your paper to someone at a party in 30 seconds. If you can’t do it there’s a good chance your argument needs further clarification. Do clarify it and an interesting and enriching exchange of ideas will surely follow.


By Geoff Cox, Wolfgang Suetz, and Thomas Zummer

1. Preface
Motivation: At the beginning of your paper, demonstrate the motivation for your interest in your particular research topic in a concise manner. What is it that aroused your interest? Is it a particular problem, or work, book, or experience? This helps to engage your readers, let them to get to know you, and also contextualizes your work.

2. Introduction
– Hypothesis: The hypothesis concerns the initial premise of your research. What will you address? What do you assume as given or as possible? What follows from your premise? What do you want to prove?
– Research Question: The research question is the question you want to respond to, as it is what organises your research. It is of key significance because it orients your work in a particular direction, builds up a momentum, and prevents you from getting lost among general statements. You return to the research question at the end of your paper.
-Methodology: How will you conduct your research, address your topic, and provide access to relevant materials and references for your reader. It is here that considerations of form and style become important, as you inform your reader about your hypothesis, the method you will use to proceed, and lead them further into your topic.

3. Argument
– Framing your research question. Development of your argument.
– Examination of topic (s), and evidence.
– Sources and Resources: Your readers should be able to access the sources that you have used to frame your argument and ground the validity of your claims. This ensures that your work is transparent, i.e. that it is open for others to engage in and to examine. Your sources – books, articles, interviews, online sources, works – should be listed in an appendix. If you use primary sources such as interviews, an (edited) transcript can be included in the appendix. You can also make such sources available for scrutiny by uploading them on the internet as digital files, and providing a link.
– Readability: Terms that are important in your text should be consistent and have the same meaning throughout, and should therefore be appropriately defined (in the proper place, i.e., footnotes or a glossary). Please be concise and clear, keep in mind the public that you are writing for.

4. Text
The main body of the paper should provide an introduction to the subject matter you want to deal with, and prepare your main argument. It is important to be clear and concise, and to avoid fillers and repetitions. In the main part of the paper, it is a good idea to provide points of orientation – particularly at the end/beginning of chapters or sections. Let the reader know at which point in the overall narrative you stand, what comes next, etc. At the end of longer or complex arguments, and before taking the next step, a brief summary will be helpful to your readers. With regard to the form of footnotes, bibliographies, glossaries, etc., please refer to the Chicago Manual of Style.

5. Conclusion

– Summary of your research.
– Conclusion to your initial research questions.
– Other questions or speculations that have emerged. At the end of the text, you should revisit your original question and determine if you have been able to answer it. If that is not the case, let your readers know why. Is there a different question or set of questions that could be asked? What new questions or conclusions emerge from your research?

6. Apparatus
Footnotes, Citations, Quotes, Extracts, Epigraphs, Index, Glossary.
Note: Although the research project should serve your art project work (and vice versa), it should be remembered that it is in itself a creative task. Good luck, work well, and we will look forward to your papers.